Rick DeLorenzo Jr.'s family inheritance is more than just a recipe for thin-crust pizza—it's a tradition of hard work and dedication. After emigrating from a small Italian town called San Fele, his grandparents settled in a row home on Hudson Street in Trenton. They raised 12 children there, all of whom became well-versed in the application of elbow grease. Circa 1938, DeLorenzo's uncle Joe opened the first family pizzeria at the corner of Hudson and Mott Streets. Four of the older brothers formulated the signature Trenton tomato-pie recipe—a supercrispy thin crust topped with garden-fresh california tomatoes and wisconsin cheese—and passed it on to four younger brothers, including DeLorenzo's father. Today, the pizzaiolo duties are carried on by DeLorenzo and his children, Michael, Melissa, and Maria.
The menu at DeLorenzo's Pizza has earned high praise in several newspaper articles and a spot on Dash’s list of America's best slices. After enjoying a tomato pie, Rich Defabritus of the Slice food blog said, "The balance struck between the sauce and cheese is about as close to perfection as you could get." Wood-paneled walls and old-timey memorabilia give the restaurant a nostalgic, throwback vibe, similar to the pizza parlor where Frank Sinatra first read a menu with his famously blue-tinted contact lenses.
A white-clapboard Victorian house perched atop a grassy knoll and surrounded by a sprawling lawn and stately oaks, Paulie's Anna Rose Restaurant might be overlooked as the home of a well-to-do family. Yet, beneath the prim, painstakingly maintained exterior, a surprisingly lush history stretches back. More than 150 years old, the house served time as a stagecoach-frequented inn before transforming into a bustling, inconspicuous, Prohibition-era speakeasy. Today, owner Paulie Villareal and his wife, Colleen, take responsibility for its latest incarnation, which they named for Paulie, his mother, and Colleen’s mother, according to a glowing profile in the Times of Trenton.
As a young man, Paulie worked for his father at their family-owned diner, then followed his fascination with the gourmet arts to culinary school. Upon graduation, he fluttered through Atlantic City kitchens, honing his skills before landing in West Trenton at Paulie’s Anna Rose Restaurant. Now, this Italian giant has become a place of pilgrimage for his loyal Atlantic City diners.
Inside this culinary destination, a pair of cozy dining rooms houses a fireplace, gleaming woodwork, and framed paintings that help guests feel at home, but not so at home that they arrive to the table in their pajamas. Tucked up next to a white tablecloth, they dive into authentic dishes of chicken and veal blanketed in garlic white-wine sauces and cognac demi glazes. Their forks also sink into herb-encrusted salmon and angeloni fish or reel in tangles of pasta with classic, pink-vodka blush and marinara sauces. On summer days, diners lounge on a patio as they complete these feasts with one of Colleen’s desserts, such as her jaw-dropping banana cream pie, and on chillier evenings, they can warm their insides with wine and other libations at the full bar, instead of eating a log and then swallowing a match.
When the wind is howling and the roads are icy, the cozy couches and comfy seats beyond Take 5 Gourmet's foggy windows look particularly inviting. Once they enter the artwork-speckled space, guests can shrug off their coats and order a hot cocoa or frothy latte before curling up on one the arabesque armchairs. Cheerful servers man the counter, plating freshly baked pastries and showering crepes in caramel, cinnamon, and toasted walnuts. Some evenings, performers take the stage to show off their guitar skills, singing talents, or ability to hold their breath for almost a whole minute.
When the sun is bright and the air is warm, however, it’s the sidewalk patio that holds the most appeal. Here, guests can lounge on deck chairs as they snack on wholesome tarragon chicken salad wraps and sip on ice-cold smoothies. No matter the season, though, cafe-goers can always grab a box of creamy Astor's chocolates or a gourmet gift basket to take home with them.
The lively sounds of keyboards, guitars, and soulful voices waft through the air most nights at The Big Easy, where the kitchen combines diverse live entertainment with food that draws from American culinary traditions such as Cajun and soul cooking. Local chef Olugbala Sabubu, who was profiled by the Trentonian, helms the kitchen, where he whips up soul food and Cajun dishes such as fried-chicken dinners, spicy sautéed shrimp, and lemon-pepper tilapia. Sandwiches include the Kenya burger, crowned with grilled peppers. Certified organic and fair-trade coffee from around the world fills mugs as patrons watch live entertainment from gospel singers, singer-songwriters, and the occasional unnecessarily gagged mime.
In the mid 1860s, the house that had stood on the Green family's property since Richard Green purchased it in the 1740s was dismantled. The building that became the Blooming Grove Inn was erected in its place. Over the years, the building has lived many lives?an ideal place for a stage coach stop, a speakeasy during Prohibition, and a restaurant that, according to local legend, frequently played host to baseball great Ted Williams.
In November 2014, after massive renovations that restored the spot to its former glory, it reopened as Blooming Grove Inn. Guests now can dine on Italian and American cuisine, including the ravioli du jour, caramelized sea scallops, seafood risotto, and rack of lamb, all with a side-order of American history.
The rustic wooden pillars and bracing that characterize the dining room and bar at The Sticky Wicket may appear formal, but the restaurant thrives on casual fun. Martinis and wine help wash down a range of upscale pub fare, such as baby back ribs, burgers, English fish and chips, and Yankee pot roast. Though the long cushioned benches allow for more communal dining, nine booths are outfitted with flat-screen TVs for playing children's programs as well as sports. An adjacent liquor store contains a diverse stock of beer, wine, and spirits.