The best tomato in the garden

The mere mention of pizza can be music to a college student’s ears. Pizza is perfect in so many ways – it’s cheap, tasty and makes great décor (you know you have a few slices

The mere mention of pizza can be music to a college student’s ears. Pizza is perfect in so many ways – it’s cheap, tasty and makes great décor (you know you have a few slices lying around on your floor).

When searching for a cheap alternative to your usual pizza choice, head to a little pizza joint known as Top Tomato. You can count on an extensive, inexpensive menu that includes pizza, hoagies, salads, Kaisers, appetizers and desserts.

At first glance, the interior of the tiny parlor hiding between Subway and Wendy’s on Walnut Street resembles an artsy, contemporary café. While it does indeed have a coffee bar, Top Tomato also offers tasty, traditional (with a few eccentric dishes) Italian fares in a colorful, if not jovial, setting.

The bright, rainbow-esque walls are embellished with abstract paintings that complement the vibrant colors. Flowers here and there add a touch of simplicity to the restaurant. If you’re looking for a casual dinner on the weekend and are in need of some down time, this restaurant is not too hectic or fast-paced. This pizza place has an eclectic menu to accompany its unconventional setting.

Be careful not to fill up on salad or an appetizer – this restaurant serves huge portions of both. Hot garlic bread biscuits are melt-in-your-mouth good. Salads are gargantuan and come with little breadsticks. The crisp, crunchy vegetables seem as though they were freshly-picked from a garden.

If you’re not in the mood for a plain garden salad, try the Sicilian salad, which is a mix of greens, olives, onions, fresh buffalo mozzarella, roasted peppers, plum tomatoes and pecorino cheese.

The Chicken Zinger salad, which has roasted peppers, crumbled blue cheese and chicken sautéed in hot sauce, is sure to fire-up your taste buds.

Top Tomato’s pizza is top quality, and while they have a variety of sandwiches and salads to choose from, pizza is their specialty.

The Margherita pizza has a light, sweet sauce with a touch of tang to tickle your mouth. The soft tomatoes are marinated in olive oil; the mild buffalo mozzarella cheese and sweet basil give the pizza its distinct flavor.

If you’re hankering for cheese, try the White Spinach pizza or the Super Six Cheese pizza, both of which are incredibly cheese-licious.

Top Tomato offers some unusual toppings as well, such as clams, shrimp, marinated eggplant and steak. Individual pizzas are large and can be shared by two or even three people.

Hot and cold hoagies and sandwiches are also available. Most of their subs are basically sandwich versions of the different kinds of pizzas they offer.

The Chicken Cacciatore hoagie includes veggies blanketed by a layer of chunky tomato sauce. Their homemade Panino bread is soft and delectable.

Dessert at Top Tomato is also very delicious, but it might be hard to save room with all of the filling food. When your sweet tooth starts to ache, quell the pain with a Wild Strawberry Tart or a homemade cookie.

One bite of the savory and creamy White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake will mend a broken heart and wash away school worries and woes. This vanilla cake is layered with gooey raspberry cream and white chocolate mousse.

For added sugar-rush, have a cup of steamy coffee, like The Ferrari, which is regular coffee with a shot of espresso.

It’s time to ditch Domino’s and head downtown for Top Tomato – food that is guaranteed to please your palate.

Located on 1107 Walnut St., Top Tomato is open every day except Sunday, and also makes deliveries. The good food and fun, multi-colored setting, together with the amicable, prompt wait staff are sure to make you a returning customer to Top Tomato.

For more information and tantalizing photos of pizza, visit

Ellen Minsavage can be reached at

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