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Food Friday: St. Louis Style Pizza

Welcome to another post in my St. Louis Food series in which I highlight some of my hometown’s famous foods.

Today’s post is all about St. Louis style pizza. St. Louis pizza crust is very, very thin and doesn’t contain any yeast. The pizza is also cut into squares instead of slices. The cheese is almost always provel, if it isn’t, it’s a pretty shitty attempt at St. Louis style pizza. You see, the cheese is really what makes the yeast-less crust acceptable.

Imo’s St. Louis Style Pizza

What’s provel cheese, you ask?

Oh you’ve never heard of Provel cheese? That’s because St. Louis invented it. It is combination of white cheddar, swiss and provolone cheese that is beloved by almost all St. Louisians. It was invented by the Costa Grocery way back in the 1950s. Rumor has it that it was developed as a cheese that would break nicely when bitten into, thus avoiding the annoying cheese slide-off that happens with most pizza. It has a very low melting point which gives it a gooey and sort of buttery texture. From what I understand, you either love it or you hate it. Like a true St. Louis, I think it’s delicious.

Provel cheese. Photo Credit:

Yeast-less crust, you say?

Most people know that St. Louis pizza is thin crust, but they often make the mistake of assuming thin means something similar to New York Style crust. However, STL style crust is much thinner and crisper, making it very difficult to fold. It is for this reason that STL style pizza is always cut into 3-4 inch squares, making them easier to handle. It also makes it much easier to eat half a pizza without realizing it.

Don’t think of it as pizza

Personally, I make a very clear distinction between what the rest of the country calls pizza and what St. Louis calls pizza. If I am craving pizza, I do not order St. Louis style. To me, St. Louis style pizza is in its own category. It’s like a very cheesy, saucey cracker, but not quite as crunchy. While there are many die-hard St. Louis pizza fans that would claim our style is the best, there are also plenty of St. Louisians that agree with my point of view on the subject.

Where to get it

The most popular place to order St. Louis style pizza is Imo’s, which is a large pizza chain throughout the city and suburbs. There is also Cecil Whittakers, which I consider a poor man’s Imo’s, but is still loved by many. Many restaurants in The Hill (the Italian neighborhood) serve St. Louis style pizza as well, but I still think that crosses too far into the realm of outside of St. Louis food. If I want a pizza, I’ll go to The Hill, if I want a buttery, gooey cheesy cracker, I’ll call Imo’s.

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