Even bad pizza is good pizza. Fortunately, the pizzas I am about to tell you about are very good pizzas.
St. Louis is known for a special, cracker-thin pizza topped with Provel cheese. St. Louis-style pizza is everywhere. Provel is everywhere, too.
Jake and I have never encountered St. Louis-style pizza or Provel anywhere else during our moves or travels. When we first visited our local grocery stores, we were surprised that about half of the frozen pizza options were St. Louis-style. And if you visit an Italian restaurant, you may find that dishes you’re used to seeing topped with mozzarella are topped with Provel. Those that dislike Provel will want to read menu descriptions carefully when ordering chicken parmesan, manicotti, and, even fish! Side salads might also arrive covered in shredded Provel, sometimes up to a 50/50 ratio of lettuce to Provel.
Not all pizzas in St. Louis are topped with Provel and not all Provel pizzas are the same. Here are four pizzas in St. Louis that I want to order again.
Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria
We first visited Katie’s Pizza & Pasta on one of her Give Back Tuesdays in which she donates all of that day’s profits to a local non-profit organization. One of the pizzas that I ordered was the Wood Roasted Chicken Pizza topped with roasted garlic, dandelion greens, caramelized shallots, goat cheese, gorgonzola, and balsamic. I watched Jake take the first bite.
“So, does it taste like a $16 pizza,” I asked?
“Actually, yes. It does,” he replied.
I had to agree. The pizza included plenty of tender chicken. Most of all, we liked how the sweet onions, bitter greens, tangy cheeses, and tart balsamic jived together in a way that created complex flavors we never tired of.
Katie offers a fantastic weekday lunch special for $12.95 offering one’s choice of a small salad or soup, + one of seven varieties of personal-sized pizza (or other entree on the list). Jake ordered the Roasted Chicken pizza while I tried the pear and prosciutto. We loved the balance of sweet and savory flavors.
The crust struck me as remarkable this visit. Katie mentioned she recently tweaked her recipe. The dough is a tad thicker than NY style, but light and airy in texture with a pleasant rich flavor.
*Everything else we’ve tried here is good, too. Try the fried artichokes!
Now, this is a St. Louis-style pizza I can love.
Jake tried two Provel pizzas in St. Louis and disliked them so much that I was scared to order my own.
Then, I joined some local bloggers for dinner at Serra’s Pizzeria in Maryland Heights. It strikes me as a lovingly worn restaurant that serves loyal regulars. Still wary of melted Provel, I ordered Serra’s Italian burger. Provel reigns here. It looked like most of the pasta dishes and even the cheesy garlic bread were topped with a cap of melted Provel. My friends invited me to try their pizza.
I loved it. The cracker-thin crust wasn’t a perfect, factory-sized circle, nor did it taste like one. I was most surprised by how much I liked the cheese. It wasn’t too thick or gluey or American cheesy. Someone in our group mentioned they liked Serra’s sausage because it tasted homemade. It certainly tasted like it.
The Italian burger was good, but not as good as the pizza. I have regrets.
Sometimes when people rave about something, I assume that it’s overrated. Call it skepticism, snarkiness, I’m not sure what. But it’s embarrassing that it took me so long to visit Pastaria in Clayton. Jake went out of town one night and so I treated myself to a take-out pizza. Of course I chose something spicy.
The Salami Beddu Nduja is topped with mozzarella, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, & that magical, spreadable sausage. Salume Beddu produces Nduja here in St. Louis. When you visit, you’ll want to order any dish that includes it.
This pizza is literally blowing my mind. Like, still. This pizza’s crust is thin and charred in all of the right places. The interplay between the spicy sausage and honey tastes delightful. Definitely not overrated.
*Comet Coffee makes a delicious ham and cheese croissant filled with Nduja and Camembert.
When we’re feeling pizza delivery, we go chewy mozzarella instead of Provel. We just do, it’s what we grew-up with.
“It’s the closest we’ve found to NY Style,” our East Coast transplant friends said. Their website states “We use only 100% mozzarella! No part-skim or Provel.” We believed them.
La Pizza only offers pick-up or dine-in. There’s no option to order online so you just gotta call. But their pizza costs slightly less than Racanelli’s and there’s a parking lot in the back. I liked everything about this pizza from the thin crust and charring around its edges to the good cheese and crushed tomato sauce. Jake said he liked both Racanelli’s and La Pizza about equally. I think La Pizza has the edge.
Don’t hesitate to order a salad. The chef’s salad is no throwaway. We found lovingly hand-torn leaf lettuces, quartered hard boiled eggs, shredded mozzarella, and lots of shredded ham and capicola. They do offer a house Italian dressing, but forgot to include it in our bag. Good thing I always keep dressing on hand.
Jake wouldn’t touch the salad. “It’s covered in ham! Ham on salad is weird.” I looked at him like he was weird and ate all of the salad. We still fought over the last slices, though.