Papa's Tomato Pies was established in 1912 in Trenton, NJ. It is the oldest continuously-run pizza restaurant in the USA, still operated by family. It moved to Chambers Street in 1945 from Butler Street, and moved to Robbinsville NJ in 2013. At one time, Papa's would stay open until 3 AM to feed hungry factory workers at the end of their shifts, and hungry bar patrons after the bars closed. Papa's is a NJ institution, loved locally and known to pizza lovers everywhere!
Giuseppe ("Joe") and Adalene Papa
The restaurant's founders on a visit to St. Mark's Square in Venice. They were originally from Naples.
Tessie and Abie Azzaro
Abie Azzaro and his wife Tessie (Joe and Adalene's daughter) are now happily retired, letting the third and fourth generation take over!
not doing so well. But one thing is for sure, he left a mark on so many. I wish Abbie many more years. I will always keep this guy somewhere in my heart and mind."
Become a Fan of Papa's on Facebook!
Reprinted from Chambersburg blog "Mack's Truck of Wisdom" is the story of Papa's, in Nick's own words, from 2008:
"Papa's Tomato Pie Restaurant is celebrating 96 years in
business! We have been serving the Trenton area since 1912.
And we are the second oldest pizza restaurant in the United States.
The founder of Papa's was the owner's grandfather, Joe Papa, from Naples, Italy, which is the birth place of tomato pies as we know it today. He opened one of the first pizzarias in
Trenton, located on South Clinton Avenue. As years passed, hemoved to Butler Street, with two locations. One at 109 Butler, the second was built right across the street,
which is now known as Neapolitan Hall. Then moving to
Chambers and Roebling streets in 1945, where it still
operates today as a family run business of four generations of pie makers.
Starting with the owner's grandfather, Joe Papa. He was 17 when he opened his first restaurant, making dough by hand long before machines, and cooking in an oven using coal. He also peeled and cooked tomatoes for the pizza sauce,
and used olive oil and fresh-cut mozzarella while my grandmother, Adalene, made the meatballs, the macaroni sauce, and helped him prepare in the kitchen. Joe Papa was one of the firstbusinessmen in Trenton, chairman of the Feast of Lights for many years, and president of Neapolitan Hall. Always in a suit and tie, he taught many a pie maker who went off to own businesses of their own, like Tony Gervasio of Gervasio's Restaurant and Chick and Jimmy DeLorenzo from DeLorenzo's and many others.
Both of the owners grandfathers' sisters married successful pie makers as Dominik Picca of Picca's on WhittakerAvenue and Tony of Long Branch, which is still in operation. My father, Dominik "Abbie" Azzaro, started working for the owner's grandfather in 1945. He met the owner's mother, Teresa "Tessie" Papa, and shortly after married. He worked for the owner's grandfather until he passed away in 1965.
Then, he and the owner's mother took over the business. She helped him by taking care of all the paperwork. He not only continued with the family recipes, but he stayed open until 3 a.m., serving breakfast to local Chambersburg and Villa Park patrons. At that time, there were many bars in the area that came to Papa's when they closed. To mention a few: Mickey's, Freddie's, Gus Hines, Four Ovals, De George's Eldorado, Bartolini's, Botel Inn, Count Felix, The Little Spot, Dart Tavern, Liberty Tavern, and many others.
Another fond memory was being open in the late afternoon when the teenagers came in and danced in the aisles. We had a big teen clientele. They came in after the football
games between Trenton High and Trenton Catholic. Then there was the famous "Sports Night" at Trenton High. The Red Team used Papa's as their home base. Most of the girls were from Chambersburg . Those same teenagers are now in their 60s,and a group of them return the last Wednesday of every month, still eating the same tomato pies, just not dancing in the aisle! Some of our well-known patrons were Mary Roebling, Anthony Carabelli, Bobby Prunetti, Kathy Di Costanza, Jimmy Durante, Frank Stallone, Louis Prima, Sam Butera, and many more stars and dignitaries."
A note from Chip Azzaro from the Papa's Facebook page:
"Just to let you know only family make the pies at Papa's. Nick of course.....and Nick's cousin me Dominick (Chip) Azzaro. It is all in the family here!"