My COVID-19 sequestration hit an emotional high point this week when I heard Bruce Springsteen sing this line from Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl” on the Jersey 4 Jersey telethon:
Cause down the shore everything’s all right
As I write this, it’s only April and this Jersey Boy is sure hoping that things will be all right down the Jersey Shore before Memorial Day weekend arrives. Because there’s nowhere I’d rather be that weekend than on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. It’s a place chock full of memories of laying on the sandy beach listening to the ocean, playing pinball on the Boardwalk and hearing live music at night.
The town at Exit 100-A on the Garden State Parkway that started to fall apart continues to come back to life and its once-famous boardwalk is revitalizing big time. Now, not only can you still get your fortune told by Madam Marie, you can also get one of the best slices of pizza you will ever enjoy at Maruca’s Tomato Pies.
I took a trip to Asbury late last year just before it got cold and heard that the famous Maruca’s from Seaside Heights further down the shore had opened a second location in Asbury at the start of the 2019 season. It was a lovely late Sunday afternoon and after struggling a bit to find the place, I finally found their small free-standing booth near the north end of the Boardwalk. Without hesitation, I ordered a pair of slices for the tender of $4.50 each.
Looking behind the counter, I was quite impressed with their glass door, multi-level, spinning circular oven in the middle of the booth that kept everything warm. It is one cool unique contraption!
For the uninitiated, a Jersey tomato pie isn’t all that different from a regular New York slice. It’s just that the tomato sauce is put on top after the cheese and any unnecessary toppings. Although tomato pies are more popular on the Trenton side of the state, they do show up in a few places down the shore.
When I first saw my cool-looking striped slices, I appreciated the fact that they did seem to be a good size for the money. Better than that though was how totally fantastic they tasted. On my first bite, the rich tomato sauce slapped me in the face with how delicious it was. With the sauce layered on top and not blended with the cheese, it interestingly winds up that the cheese comes across as being a bit thicker, but far from overwhelming. I loved the tasty texture of how this all came together.
Getting to the bottom side of the slice, there was some char that added nicely to the flavor of the crust, but overall, this was not a crispy, crunchy slice. But that was OK since it was cooked well enough to make it a manageable eat.
The flavor and composition of Maruca’s tomato pie make for one of the most marvelous pizza treats you could ever experience. This should be a must on any pizza person’s bucket list of must-try slices!
After eating my slices at the community picnic tables in front of their booth, I couldn’t keep my thoughts about this amazing pizza to myself. My conversation started about how great this pizza was got an otherwise quiet table quite talkative! We all agreed it was truly something special, and I witnessed them all going back for seconds. Why I never had experienced it before down in Seaside all these years was a mystery to me.
So, this brings us to the fact that the Boardwalk is currently closed, but it looks like the Maruca’s in Seaside is doing takeout and delivery. Also, like many places who un-modestly know just how great their pizza is, you can even get one delivered in the mail! After hearing how long the lines get for a slice on the Boardwalk, at times this doesn’t sound like too slow of a way to get some!
I’m keeping the faith and hoping to be back at the shore this summer for some sun, fun and a couple of slices at Maruca’s.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***** Sets the Standard
Maruca’s Tomato Pies
1050 Ocean Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712