I mean besides irresistible? I want to define once and for all what makes St. Louis-style pizza, well, St. Louis-style.
First…What is it NOT?
A brief history is in order. There is some argument about the exact origin, but it is widely believed pizza first migrated to America from Naples and took root in New York City (others say it was Chicago. Let them). It’s more well known that both of those cities have their own pizza personalities (pizza-nality?).
Chicago is characterized by a foundation of substantial biscuit-y crust, then cheese, toppings and finally a healthy layer of tomato sauce. One does not pick-up Chicago-style pizza – you use a fork (-lift) to eat it and you never really finish it.
New York Style
New Yorkers are on the move – they walk, they eat, they’re constantly on-the-go — so their pizza has to move too. A soft, slightly-leavened crust layered thinly with sauce and modestly topped. It’s good, and usually consumed folded. That’s right – the larger-than-normal slice portion lends itself to folding for portability. Ingenious, no? You know you are eating New York style pizza if you find a thin yellow line of grease running to your elbow. Some say, ‘yum,’ others ‘yuck.’
But, here in the middle of America, we all know that St. Louis has the best pie anywhere. St. Louis pizza pioneers didn’t focus on height or portability – they focused on f-l-a-v-o-r. The thin and crispy crust – is merely a convenient vehicle for getting succulent loads of meat and cheese into your (ahem) pie-hole. St. Louis crust is the perfect foundation for supporting the generous edge-to-edge expanse of tangy-sweet sauce and that gloriously-melty, St Louis style cheese.
St. Louis Style Pizza
Many will argue, and I agree, you are not eating a St. Louis Style pie if it does not either exclusively contain or primarily feature that signature, tangy, creamy, white cheese. Unique to St. Louis, that white magic is a unique blend of Provolone, Cheddar and Swiss. It has a unique melt that creates a clean “bite” when you eat it. It never strings and is not prone to chewiness like Mozzarella. The cheese, which has a salty-creamy mouth-feel, mixes with the sauce and creates swirls of the characteristic orange-ishness that browns up in the oven. Needless to say, newcomers to St. Louis always ask, “what is that cheese?”
A few bites later they are hooked.
Toppings are heaped on St. Louis pie. If you’re like most in St. Louis, you probably prefer yours with sausage, pepperoni or both. Those who have made it their passion to try the many styles of pie across the city have come to recognize Salsicca Sausage, which is uniquely characterized by fennel and pepper, as the preeminent sausage for St. Louis Style Pie – the best of which comes from The Hill.
St. Louis Style Pizza Recap
- Crust: Thin and Crispy, Barely Leavened
- Sauce: More Tangy than Sweet
- Cheese: Cheddar-Swiss Blend (little to no Mozzarella)
- Notable Toppings: Spiced Salsicca Sausage
- Topping Coverage: Edge-to-Edge
- Sliced: In Squares, Wedges OK
- Seasoning Notes: Noticeable Oregano
- Finishing Notes: Browned Crusty Edges
So there you have it…the definitive definition of St. Louis Style Pizza. It’s more than the cheese or the crust – there is a lot of subtlety that goes into creating the perfect St. Louis Style Pizza.
I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda hungry now. 😛