Tony’s Famous Tomato Pies
Mayfair. Tacony. Frankford. Holmesburg. If you live in the northeast, you’ve probably heard of Tony’s pizza. And if you’ve heard of Tony’s pizza, chances are you’ve probably had a slice in your mouth at some point in time. And if you’ve had a slice in your mouth, you already know that Tony’s makes a pretty amazing thin crust pizza.
Tony’s was always my “go to” pizza growing up. My mom would never order any other pizza unless it was Tony’s. We would drive down that abomination of a block, Barnett street, and she would double park. Armed with exactly $9.10, I’d make my way through the door with a purpose. Looking all fat and wearing a Nirvana t-shirt, I’d emerge with the same quality pizza every single time. To this day, if I bring her a slice from somewhere else, her response is always the same. “I still think Tony’s is better.”
The day we reviewed Tony’s was the same day we opted to have a photo shoot, courtesy of http://www.jennycastrophotography.com, for the blog. What better way to showcase your pizza eating/reviewing skills than to order a pizza simply dubbed “the works”? A cheese pie topped with sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onions, black olives and mushrooms. Now because we’re idiots and our eyes are way bigger than our stomachs, we ordered an additional half sausage, half pepperoni pizza.
I wanna start with the sausage and pepperoni pie first. The pepperoni was thinly cut, sweet and crispy to the bite. The sausage they use is the same sausage they’ve been serving for as long as I can remember. It’s huge chunks of spicy, seasoned sausage. I’m fairly certain that they could scrap every other pie on their menu, just serve sausage, and they’d still be a landmark in Northeast Philly when it comes to thin crust pizza. And now, onto the works pie. It wasn’t great. It was just okay. I think because their pizza is super thin, the abundance of toppings made it difficult to eat without a fork and knife. However, it didn’t stop me from crushing 4 slices. You know what really chaps my ass? Their policy on charging $1.50 per topping, bringing the price of the works pie to just about $20. If you’re gonna offer a pizza consisting of a ridiculous amount of toppings, have a set price for it.
Tony’s will forever in my eyes be the greatest place in Mayfair to sit down, drink beer and eat a pie. Do yourself a favor and get a half tomato, half cheese on top with sausage. Hopefully 25 years from now, my kids will be feeding their kids a Tony’s slice and telling them how skinny their grandpop used to be before he started his pizza blog.
There are pieces of our childhood that everyone wishes they could take into their adult years. The precious memories and feelings that you relished as a child just don’t hold up as you age. I’ll never be as excited about Christmas as I once was because I know Santa Claus doesn’t exist. I lost so much respect for professional athletes because I know most all of them are on steroids. The Catholic Church? Please, don’t even get me started on them. These are all situations that I’ve accepted and learned to live with. I really wish I could be as enthusiastic as Castro about this review, but I simply cannot. After my most recent visit, I think I’ve lost faith in an establishment that I held in such a high regard since I was a child: Tony’s Famous Tomato Pies.
Whenever my family would have parties over my grandmother’s house, my cousin Jimmy would always bring over Tony’s tomato pies. Unlike anything I’d ever had before, it was a welcomed change from the chain pizza I was used to ordering at such a young and fat age. But as I got older, something happened. I’m still trying to piece together an intelligible sentence to explain my feelings for Tony’s, but I’m simply at a loss for words. Not to say that the pizza was awful, but it was just…blah. As my cousin Kelly put it best, “Their pizza is nothing to write home about.” But I really wanted to believe their pizza WAS the way I remembered it, atop the pizza place pyramid. Unfortunately, it was just another memory to look back on with fondness.
For this most recent visit, Castro and I ordered two pies (as always) with assorted toppings. The first, a half sausage/half pepperoni, wasn’t bad. The Italian sausage was quite delicious and literally stole the show, leaving the crisp pepperoni not too far behind. But the real disappointment was the second pie. When I order a pizza with “the works” on it, I do so because I expect every topping to compliment the next. However, in this particular instance, they all canceled each other out. What we got was a pizza that was heavy and messy without any distinction. To make matters worse, nobody informed us that every additional topping added an extra $1.50 to our pie. Since a works pizza isn’t on the menu and we were charged for every topping, this bland monstrosity cost us around twenty bucks. Factor that in with the fact that refills aren’t free either, and you get an expensive and subpar dining experience.
In a town where tomato pies are becoming a popular option, Tony’s can’t compare to the competition. If you insist on going there, avoid the additional toppings and stick with the sausage or pepperoni. Although I understand that nothing gold can stay, I can always think back to a time when Tony’s was the best around. R.I.P.