You’ve heard about “List mania”? Well, I have had a bad case of pie mania for quite a few years now, sparked by my discovery of Penza’s Pies, on Route 206 South in Hammonton. I had my “pie ephiphany,” as I called it at the time, after happening upon Evelyn Penza’s Red Barn Cafe about eight years ago. I featured her glorious pies in a Thanksgiving article about pie in the Packet that fall (still quoted on her website), and have been returning ever since whenever I can get down that way. Eventually, even the New York Times discovered her.
What makes Penza’s pies special? First of all, they are still “home made.” No cookie-cutter crusts here. And they are brimming to overflowing with fresh, fresh fruit, which, Evelyn tells me, is key. The overflowing fruit often creates wonderfully caramelized flavors around the crust, which is still somehow never soggy. I like her ricotta pie, with its orange zest and fruit topping, too. And at holidays she makes a Duxbury pie, which is sort of like a mincemeat without the meat, all jewel-toned fresh fruits, very unusual. Now that New Jersey fruit pies are coming into season (blueberries!), it is time to get yourself down there. Trust me, it is worth the drive. And you can have brunch at their cute cafe, where the queenly Evelyn also reigns. Tell her Faith sent you. (If need to pick up dinner on the way home, stop along the northbound side of Route 206 at the seasonally open Kingfisher BBQ – more great eats!)