That was all the motivation I needed to give it a try on a recent journey to north Jersey.
La Sicilia is a narrow and deep restaurant on Washington Avenue. I had called ahead for my Palermo pie as a takeout order. It was ready on my arrival and the counter man was pleasant. I was facing a two hour drive home with this pie, and I placed it in the trunk. Even from that remote location, the glorious aroma of the tomato sauce filled the cabin, tormenting me for my drive home.
Later that evening, when it was time to re-heat the pie, I took it from the box and discovered that it is NOT pizza, but tomato pie. Not Trenton-style pizza for which “tomato pie” is just another name, but Conshohocken-style tomato pie, which is crust and sauce with, at most, a sprinkling of aged cheese. Examples include Conshy Bakery and Tony Roni’s in the Philly area, and L&B in Brooklyn.
I left some slices unadulterated. On others, I added some diced soppressata. On others, I added sharp provolone and some Romano Locatelli cheese.
I found that the crust is very good, but not great. It had a very satisfying crispness to it, but it was not magical like a good Trenton style pie, a classic Neapolitan, or even a L&B tomato pie.
Kang had reported that the Palermo pie “features a … square crust foundation topped with thin slices of fresh mozzarella” but I could not discern any mozzarella under the sauce, and I'm glad. Cheese needs to be on top to get browned for maximum flavor and texture.
The tomato sauce, which is mostly chunks, was as delicious as any I can remember. Such balance, such vibrant flavors! This is not a pizza or a granma pie; it is a tomato pie and a wonderful one. The crust was simply a palette, and a crisply durable one, to convey this awesome red tomato topping. I sat in a lot of crappy traffic to get this pie and I'm VERY glad I did. Usually, tomato pie is improved by the addition of some cheese, but this time I preferred the slices that had none.
We did not finish the pie, and I had three glorious slices a few days later. The crust held up, and returned again to an ideal crisping upon reheating. Kang reported that the Palermo was $13; it is now $16 and still a wonderful bargain. It’s hard to imagine a tastier tomato sauce. Let’s give the crust a 7 and the sauce a perfect 10. Overall, this pie comes in at 8.75. Loved it a lot!