Whether you heat them up or eat them cold, Carangi Baking Company's square slices are a delicious piece of the Philadelphia bakery pizza puzzle. On a recent visit, Philly Slice correspondent Hawk Krall tried all their varieties—right out of the case and hot from the oven.
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I've been on a little bit of a mission to put Philadelphia bakery-style tomato pie on the pizza map. And for me it all goes back to Sam's Italian Market, a bakery and Italian prepared foods spot close to where I grew up outside of Philadelphia.
To be clear on definitions right off the bat—the "Tomato Pie" we're talking about here is very different from Trenton Tomato Pie, or even the Northeast Philly version. In the Tomato Pie Belt that runs roughly from South Philly through the western suburbs of Manayunk , Conshocken and Norristown, it's a square pie that consists only of soft, foccocia-like dough, thick, slow-cooked sauce, herbs and a shake of parm or romano, and is ideally purchased at room temperature at a bakery, not a pizzeria.
D'Amato's has existed under its current name and ownership since 1971, but the location has been home to a bakery with same massive coal-burning oven since 1880. In the years since the D'Amato family started selling pizza, Chicago has seen an explosion in its pizza scene. Through it all, D'Amato's has held its ground and still puts out what are, dollar for dollar, among the best slices in town.
Conshohocken Bakery's storefront is open to the public, even though it's a full service commercial bakery. No tables, chairs, slices, or drinks—just bread, rolls, Italian pastries, and slabs of some of the city's finest tomato pie.
While it would be nice if every little-known pizzeria in a distant nook of Chicago turned out to be a hidden gem, all too often places are not widely known simply because they are not particularly good. And that was the case with my bakery pizza from House of Cakes in Norwood Park.