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[Photographs: Adam Kuban]

Two Fridays ago I reviewed Pizza-Town USA in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. I was just digging through some notes from that when I found Pizza-Town's take-out menu, on the back of which is reprinted the pizzeria's first-ever review, a rundown from the July 25, 1958 edition of the now-defunct Paterson Morning Call. After the jump, that review in full, plus some video from Pizza Town.

From the Paterson Morning Call, Friday, July 25, 1958

Pizzatown, U.S.A., Is An Excellent New Drive-In Spot

The gay, brightly colored, attractive Pizzatown, U.S.A., now open on Tre. 46, just across the Passaic River in East Paterson, near the Garden State Parkway, has found a ready acceptance among the lovers of good Italian food specialties of the area, and is doing a thriving business.

Gayly bedecked in red, white, and blue, with a brightly painted "Uncle Sam" as its identifying insignia, its premises are spotless inside and out. Outdoor table facilities are protected by a pastel colored canopy extended beyond the actual building, which provides shade or cover from sun and rain.

The popular priced menu is limited, the management preferring to specialize in a few, well prepared "always-fresh" items rather than to try to offer a wide selection of dishes which might produce waste and force up the prices.

Since "pizza" has become so popular in the past few years, it is only natural that this excellent roadside spot should offer that famous snack which has replaced the frankfurter as America's most popular dish. Unfortunately pizza is sold on practically every corner in the country — most of it poor, much of it indifferent in quality. The number of places which serve a really good pizza is very small, and folks hereabouts will be happy to go to a little distance to get the best, we are certain! Good pizza is truly a tasty thing — crisp and savory, while inferior pizza isn't really worth eating. Pizzatown, U.S.A., is one of the few places we have found which serves first quality pizza — from fresh home-made dough, and premium flour, yeast, spices, oil, cheese, tomatoes, and ingredients such as anchovies, sausage, etc.

Pizza is available fresh, crisp and bubbly savory at Pizzatown, U.S.A., by the slice (at 15¢) or in 2 sizes at $1.00, and $1.50.

Sandwich items — all excellent — include hot sausage, peppers, meatball, peppers and eggs. A large selection of authentic Italian ices and delicious soft drinks are also offered.

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I'm throwing in this photo of the Tomo sisters, Lisa and Michelle, because I didn't get to use it in my review post. I used a different photo, where they "popped" more, but this one is more candid.

Special attention must be made of two traditional Italian specialties of the house rarely seen in this area anymore. A special pie called calzone, which resembles an apple turnover in appearance, is prepared in snack size for 35¢, and family size for $1.50. Calzone, for the uninitiated, is concocted mainly of of fresh pot cheese, Virginia ham, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, olive oil and subtle special seasoning, which is placed on one half of a freshly prepared pizza shell. The shell is then "turned over" and crimped to seal in the delicious filling. A small hole is poked into the top of the shell — a swirlslice of mozzarella inserted for a flourish, and the top lightly olive oiled. It is then ready for the oven. When taken out after eight minutes, the result at Pizzatown, U.S.A., is a beautifully browned large hot pie, fragrant and delicious, a perfect take home meal for the entire family or to be eaten on the spot. Nourishing, tasty and tender, it is also available with generous slices of pure pork sausage added (50¢ extra).

If you like crullers, you are certain to enjoy zeppoli, home-made here, another traditional Italian style item, which resembles a conventional cruller, but is less sweet and has its own characteristic appetizing flavor, 5¢ each — or take home a bag full at 6 for 25¢.

Cold sandwiches with tomato and lettuce of Italian salami, capicola, prosciutto, bologna, provolone and American cheese, or in combination, are also excellent here. Stop by with the family for a snack, or take home a bag or box of delicious goodies — either will make you popular with your family as a person who knows fine food, and where to obtain it. The patronage is basically solid family trade, although it is very popular with the youngsters at the nearby Gantner Avenue Public School (some 250 of whom attended a special "End of Semester Party" there on school closing day). The kids enjoy themselves at Pizzatown, U.S.A>, but behave themselves, and do not bother the other patrons — the management here has a way with the youngsters.

Many nearby lodges and clubs send a committee over for hot collations which are brought back for the members...

or quick pickup orders, call Swarthmore 7-6172.

Pizzatown, U.S.A., is open to serve you from 10 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. Try this new spot soon.

Ray Tomo is an enterprising gentleman who has brought us this good drive-in restaurant. The recipes have been used in the family for three generations.

Try his wares — you'll learn to call him "Friend!"

I love how the review talks about pizza as a new thing (in 1958, it still was pretty new to many non-Italian Americans) yet also already has a sort of world-weary lament that "gee, pizza just ain't what it used to be."

And the part about some pizzerias just not caring enough to serve good food rings as true today as it did back then.

What's funny is that as I was transcribing this from the take-out menu to this post, I couldn't help but think there were many turns of phrase here that are sort of PR-ish and that, if they were posted on SE Talk, might be taken as shilling. I know that they didn't do this, but then I started imagining the Tomos creating a fake review "from 1958" just for the take-out menu. I mean, how is the average person going to check? Only a madman would go to the library and try to look up old copies of the Paterson Morning Call. And just to repeat: I don't think it's a fake review. I just let my mind wander this afternoon while typing this up.

Anyway, yeah. This reminds me that I need to dig up this old New York Times article about pizza from back in the early '50s. I'll see if I can find it...

Pizza-Town U.S.A.

89 US Highway 46, Elmwood Park NJ 07407 (map)
201-797-6172

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