The bright decor of Tony's Famous Tomato Pie pulled me in as an escape from the cold outdoors. I immediately felt as though I had been transported to a pit stop in the Midwest. Locals surrounded the bar—laughing while throwing back beer from the tap. The walls were covered in posters and exposed brick, and neon signs screamed "home–style bar". The hostess greeted us with a beaming smile, bringing over classic red plastic Coca–Cola cups. The vibe felt homey—we could have spent many hours there and not have even noticed. 

The establishment was founded in 1951 when Tony Mallamaci opened a small corner bar on 10th and Jackson streets where he served drinks and tomato pies that entirely lacked cheese. As the shop grew, he grew the business to include his brother Dominic and moved the location to Frankford Avenue in the Great Northeast. The restaurant continued to expand—becoming a place where people were able to watch the game, kick back a few beers, and enjoy a famous tomato pie. 

The menu was vast—with plentiful options for appetizers, sandwiches, quesadillas, pizzas, desserts, and more. The appetizer options ranged from salads, five different varieties of fries, chicken fingers, eggrolls, and more American–style finger foods. We asked our server for the most popular items and ordered as such. We began with cheesesteak eggrolls and pizza fries. 

The cheesesteak eggrolls arrived glistening with oil, with bubbles still visible on the fried dough surrounding the juicy meat. The Sriracha ketchup was what truly tied the dish together, causing sparks to fly inside my mouth. The pizza fries served as a heavy contrast to the lighter eggrolls we had just consumed. Using steak fries rather than typical shoestrings, the fries grew soggy and difficult to lift. Once we were able to balance the ratio of cheese, sauce, and fry after a brilliant cheese pull, the freshness of the sauce and cheese was obvious. 

Photo: Christy Qiu

For our entrée, we opted for a four–cheese quesadilla and a classic tomato pie. The food came out speedily, with a cloud of steam rising as our server rested them on the table. The quesadilla was average—tasty but slightly over–seasoned. The tomato pie knocked everything else off the table. What the tomato pie lacked in cheese, it made up for in every other aspect. The pie didn't have the heaviness of traditional pizza, with just enough cheese that made you appreciate the freshness of the tomato sauce.  The slices were crunchy but not overcooked. Now, I finally understand the meaning of “thin–crust.”

The highlight of the experience was, however, the service. Our server clearly had a passion for talking with people. She chatted with us about our experience at Penn and checked up to make sure that we were satisfied. 

Tony’s Famous Tomato Pie has something for everyone—even for those who aren’t the biggest tomato pie fans. If the food does not entice you enough, the homey, kind atmosphere will. 

TL;DR: There’s a reason why that pie is famous 

Location: 6300 Frankford Ave

Hours: Sunday–Thursday: 10 a.m.–12 a.m.

             Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.–1 a.m. 

Price: $