LOWER MAKEFIELD >> DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies, a Trenton area tradition since 1947, will begin a new tradition in 2017 on this side of the river in Pennsylvania.
And residents here can’t wait for the first pies to come out of the oven.
Owner Sam Amico joined family members and Lower Makefield Township officials on Dec. 5 to break ground for his second pizzeria, which is scheduled to open by the end of next summer on the Yardley-Langhorne Road in the historic crossroads village of Edgewood.
The eatery will occupy the first floor of a new two story building to be built at the site by developer Cameron Troilo. The eatery will occupy the first floor with two apartments above it.
Another two-story, 1,950 square-foot building would be built across a small alleyway, with a yet-to-be rented retail space on the first floor and another roughly 1,000 square-foot apartment on the second floor.
The project has been in the works for more than a year-and-a-half since sketch plans were presented to the supervisors in Jan. 2015.
According to Amico, the restaurant will have 10 tables inside with an occupancy limit of 90 people, making it bigger than its other location in Robbinsville, New Jersey. It will also have an area for outside dining.
The Pennsylvania eatery has been a long term goal of the Amico family who initially considered a site in Newtown before finding the current location in Lower Makefield not far from I-95 and surrounded by a community with a high concentration of New Jersey workers and transplants who are already familiar with DeLorenzo’s signature tomato pies.
“It’s been a long time in coming - well over two and a half to three years of planning. There’s obviously a lot of happiness and excitement going forward. We’re excited to be coming here,” said Amico.
Amico and his family have been making pizza in New Jersey since 1936, the year the DeLorenzo family opened one of the first tomato pie restaurants in the Chambersburg section of Trenton.
In 1947, Amico’s grandfather, Alexander “Chick” De Lorenzo established DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies at 530 Hudson Street in Chambersburg where he worked side by side with his wife, Sophie, for nearly 40 years.
Chick always said his recipe for success was using the finest quality ingredients, laboring over the final product and serving customers with a warm and friendly smile.
That same approach continued when Gary and Eileen Amico (Chick’s daughter) and Sam Amico (Chick’s grandson), the second and third generation, took the helm from Chick and Sophie.
In 2007, Sam opened DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville, N.J., after branching out to the suburbs from Chambersburg. His parents, Gary and Eileen Amico (Chick’s daughter and son-in-law) continued operating the Chambersburg location until 2012 when the couple retired and closed the eatery.
Sam said when they were in Chambersburg, 50 to 75 percent of their customers were from Bucks County and Pennsylvania.
“It was just a hop, skip and a jump over the bridge at that time. We knew a lot of customers out here so it made sense for us to look for a location here,” he said.
Bucks County, and in particular, Lower Makefield, has welcomed the Amico’s with open arms, packing township meetings and showing their overwhelming support for the family and their tomato poes via social media.
“It’s been an overwhelming response,” said Amico. “This was our first choice a long time ago. Now we’re finally here,” he said. “Just come out and try us in 2017.”
DeLorenzo’s is known for its tomato pies, and especially for its sausage pizza. The sausage is made locally by City Beef in Trenton, which has been in business for a half century. “It’s probably one of the best,” said Amico, noting that its sausage pie has repeatedly been named best in the state. “That’s saying a lot because there are a lot of pizza places in New Jersey,” he said.
The eatery has also found a lot of support from local, regional and national foodies who have continued to give DeLorenzo’s high marks for its food.
“We’ve been lucky over the past few years. The foodies have been out in force and the polls keep coming out. They’ve been very good for us,” he said.
The eatery already has two big fans on the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors – Chairman Jeff Benedetto and Supervisor Judi Reiss, both of whom have eaten and enjoyed their tomato pies.
“My husband and my boys had the last pie made on Hudson Street,” said Reiss. “My husband had been going there since he was a little boy. It was one of the first places he took me when we got married,” she said. “And I’ve known Sam since he was a little boy. Sam and my boys used to roll together until they got married and grew up.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “This was our place to go. For my husband, it’s a piece of home coming to Lower Makefield. And the family is a wonderful, wonderful family. They are always part of the community.
“And this is what you want in Lower Makefield – family businesses. They are the backbone of our country. This is going to be an asset to Lower Makefield,” she said.
Benedetto predicted that the new eatery will quickly become “a cornerstone for the township and Edgewood,” a sleepy crossroads village which the township has been working to develop into a walkable, downtown commercial district.
“It’s the anchor the village needs to attract people from outside the area into our commercial district,” said Benedetto. “And to have a regionally renowned operation like DeLorenzo’s come in here, we couldn’t be more thrilled.
“A lot of people are excited,” he said. “It’s the question I get asked all the time – when are they coming, when are they coming? This is going to be a grand slam for the township,” he predicted.
To the people who have never tried a DeLorenzo’s tomato pie, Benedetto says simply, “There is no better pizza. Their tomato pie is fantastic. People who have never eaten there don’t understand first of all how wonderful the family is and second of all how wonderful the food is,” he said.
“And that’s exactly what we want for Edgewood village – family, community-oriented businesses that want to grow with the township,” said Benedetto. “People who travel far and wide to go to Robbinsville now will have the Lower Makefield DeLorenzo’s. People will be taking about it.”