The United States is a big place, with a lot of amazing local cuisine. Each region has different specialties, and pizza is no exception to that. In the U.S., there is California style pizza, Chicago style pizza, New York style pizza, just to name a few.
But St. Louis style pizza stands out from the rest. It is distinct from other pizza styles in every way. Keep reading to learn the three key things that make St. Louis pizza stand out from the crowd.
What is St Louis Style Pizza exactly?
St. Louis style pizza is a unique take on pizza that differs from traditional pizza in three major ways. The crust, cheese, and shape make this regional pizza style a beloved local favorite.
This very special style of pizza is made with unleveled yeast creating a crispy cracker-like crust. The dough never rises, and the airy, chewy crust that many know as pizza crust is nowhere to be seen in St. Louis style pizza. Instead, this cracker-like crust is crunchy and has been compared to nachos. It’s different. But wait until you learn about the cheese.
St. Louis pizza is made with Provel cheese. Provel cheese is processed cheese and mixes cheddar, swiss, and provolone cheese. It is sold by the block similar to Velveeta processed cheese. Provel is difficult to find outside of St. Louis area, but you can buy it online from the famous St. Louis pizzeria IMO’s.
Provel was created in Missouri specifically to be used on St. Louis style pizza. It was scientifically designed to be a melty, gooey cheesy combination that makes St. Louis-style pizza oh so special.
Although the cheese is unique, St. Louis style pizza has many of the same toppings that traditional pizzas have, like pepperoni, mushrooms, and peppers. However, the main topping that is considered the quintessential St. Louis pizza topping is rarely seen on other pizzas. It’s the smoky, salty, beloved bacon. Pizzaiolos in this region cover their crispy crust pizzas with layers of delicious bacon.
Not only does St. Louis style pizza taste different it also looks different. Instead of the traditional, familiar wedge shapes, pizza slices, St Louis pizza is cut into 3 to 4-inch squares. The reason for this break from wedge-shaped pizza is due to the crust.
The St. Louis style pizza crust is thin and cracker-like it cannot be bent like a traditional wedge. And, the square shape has more constructional integrity and is better able to hold all of the toppings and the heavy melted Provel cheese. Some pizzerias even make the whole pie in a rectangular pizza pan.
History of St. Louis Style Pizza
In the early 1900s, as pizzerias were starting to open and become popular in New York, pizza was still relatively unknown to the rest of the U.S. In St. Louis in 1945, Amedeo Fiore, a retired tenor, decided to open a pizzeria after his singing career finished.
The pizzeria was one of the first Italian restaurants in the area. Some folks who had spent time in Itlay during the war were familiar with Italian food and pizza, but it was pretty new to the masses. The pizzeria grew, and the beloved pizzeria expanded with many copycat pizzerias opening up all over St. Louis.
The recipe has changed a bit throughout the years. Nowadays, the sauce is much sweeter, and the cheese is laid on with a heavy hand, but the crust is the same.
Where to Find St. Louis Style Pizza?
St. Louis style pizza is primarily available in the Midwest. However, some other cities around the world do have versions of it. But if you find yourself in the St. Louis area, the three best St. Louis style pizzerias where you can find authentic pizza are at these three pizzerias:
IMO’s is the original pizza chain in St. Louis. They opened their doors in 1964 and were the first pizzerias to deliver, which was unheard of at the time. They are a favorite and have even been praised by famous St. Louis locals, like the actor Jon Hamm and actress Jenna Fischer.
Frank & Helen’s Pizzeria opened in 1956 and is still making pies. It’s considered one of the best pizzerias in St. Louis. It was voted best pizzeria by Thrillist magazine and has excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.
Guido’s Pizzeria and Tapas serves up traditional pizza and other Italian dishes. It is highly recommended by fans and food critics alike.
How to Make St. Louis Style Pizza at Home
If you are outside of the greater St. Louis area, you might have trouble finding St. Louis style pizza and Provel cheese. But you can make it at home with a few modifications. But first, you will need a rectangle pizza pan to get that traditional St. Louis shape and a good pizza cutter to make those crispy squares.
To make this dough at home, simply add the ingredients and mix it up. No yeast means no need to wait for the dough to rise.
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 2 tsp corn syrup
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water
After the ingredients are mixed, separate the dough into two balls. Each ball makes a 12-inch pizza.
St. Louis-style pizza sauce is sweeter than other sauces. Mix the ingredients, and it’s ready to go, with no cooking time.
- 10 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 oz tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Unless you live in the St. Louis area or have a friend who lives there and doesn’t mind shipping cheese, you will probably have to substitute the Provel. You can use a mix of provolone and manchego to get that cheesy goodness. Now just add a layer of cooked bacon.
Once your pie is assembled, it won’t take long to cook. The thin crusts cook quickly on 450 for about 8-10 minutes. Don’t forget to cut it into tasty squares.
So there you have it, St. Louis style pizza. Pizza lovers are divided on this pizza. It’s a different take on classic pizza.
Have you ever tried St. Louis pizza before?