Everyone in Rhode Island loves Pizza Strips. Any gathering in Lil’ Rhody is sure to have a box of the treat set out.
What are Pizza Strips?
Pizza Strips (sometimes called Tomato Pie in other parts of the country), are made with a soft focaccia-like crust. The rectangular dough is topped, a little more thickly than you might expect, with tomato sauce. The tomato sauce has a simple sprinkling of oregano. A light dusting of cheese may be added, but this is a rarity.
It’s important that Pizza Strips are served at room temperature, not hot out of the oven. The name Pizza Strip comes from the cutting of the pie, which is done in long strips rather than the square shape that is traditional in other places that make tomato pie.
Pizza Strips Origin Story
You can trace Pizza Strips back to Sicily. Sfincione is a popular street food in Palermo. The sfincione crust is spongier than Pizza Strips, almost resembling brioche. Sfincione also has anchovies in the sauce and is topped with crumbly cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
It’s no surprise that a sfrincione-like dish made its way to RI. Many Sicilians emigrated to the state in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, Rhode Island has the highest concentration of Italian-Americans in the country!
D. Palmieri’s Bakery traces their roots to 1905 when Domenico Palmieri opened a bakery in Providence and was likely one of the first places, if the the first, to make Pizza Strips. They’ve since relocated to Johnston and are a RI institution.
Pizza Strips’ Cousins
There are several dishes similar to Pizza Strips. They al have roots in the famous sfincione of Palermo. And, not surprisingly, all these places have a vibrant Italian-American community.
In Philly you can call it tomato pie, gravy pie or church pie. It’s often cut into squares and sometimes has fancier toppings than Pizza Strips.
Upstate New York is also a tomato pie hotspot. Lots of bakeries in Utica sell tomoto pie and they even have started an annual Tomato Pie Day.
Pizza al Taglio or slab pizza is famous in Montreal. Although pizza al taglio is made with a variety of toppings, one of the most popular is the focaccia-style crust topped with tomato sauce.
Where to get Pizza Strips in Rhode Island
Pizza Strips are usually sold in bakeries, not pizzerias. You can buy them by the single strip, or, if you’re going to a party, by the box. Pizza Strips are also sold at grocery stores in Rhody.
D. Palmieri’s Bakery
The original and still the standard bearer for Pizza Strips in The Biggest Little. Website
La Salle Bakery
DePetrillo’s Pizza & Bakery
Several locations in Rhode Island. Excellent Pizza Strips. Website
Colvitto’s Pizza & Bakery
5 minutes from the beach, the perfect stop before or after a day by the ocean. Website