Truth be told: We’re not the biggest pizza eaters, but we do enjoy getting a pizza from time to time.
St. Louis hasn’t been known to be a town for great pizza in the past. When people across the nation think of pizza in St. Louis the immediate thought is something like this:
There’s nothing wrong with Imo’s Pizza (many would disagree with that statement…), but it is generally what people think of when the topic of St. Louis pizza comes up. Provel. Cracker-crust. Not actually pizza. Much like a “big, pizza-flavored nacho”, it has been said.
Or, as said by a commenter on our Instagram page:
It might be somewhat fair to refer to Imo’s as a different entity than pizza, especially if it’s to celebrate its difference as a positive or at least not a deficit.
Provel is not what most people would call cheese, is that rude to say? If the definition of pizza includes cheese and not “cheese product with liquid smoke added”, then it is not pizza after all, but is instead something different.
Just the same, even if Imo’s isn’t technically a pizza, there are many St. Louis style pizzas out there that use actual cheese instead of provel.
Guido’s Pizzeria & Tapas
Guido’s pizza does use provel, but only lightly. It’s mostly mozzarella, plus the sauce it a little more like traditional pizza sauce. For people who hate on St. Louis style pizza, try the pizza here before you decide to rail on the whole idea. The end result is a delicious, non-rubbery, saucy delight.
Now, you can order Imo’s with mozzarella instead of provel any time you want, thus making it an actual pizza by definition, though we agree with the sentiment of This American Wife that “other times you want Imo’s”.
Little known fact: Charlie actually likes provel. He used to buy bins of provel to use for his own cooking. Also, Charlie used to be morbidly obese.
NOTE: Provel is not a health food.
Blackthorn Pub & Pizza
The Blackthorn is a place Charlie has been going to since the last millennium, long before meeting Christine. Not really Chicago-style but definitely not St. Louis style, this pizza is great to have with lots of beer, buddies, bourbon, and will feed a small army. Layers of melty cheese, hearty sauce, and loads of crust make this the perfect pizza for getting full and having plenty of left-overs.
In many ways, this is Charlie’s favorite pizza in St. Louis, though he doesn’t get it very often anymore (once again, he used to be rather chunkified). There are a lot of good memories and bad decisions made here, mostly over too many pitchers of beer and too little common sense.
Pi Pizzeria got famous because Barrack Obama raved about it back in the day, but regardless your political affiliations there is a lot to like about the pizza here. The cornmeal crust adds a nice touch of flavor and the are a lot of creative options to be had. Our favorite here is the Delmar, which is pretty much a BBQ chicken pizza with mozzarella & cheddar cheese.
Now serving thin-crust pizza as well as some other options (including something called a “Pi-Stick”).
Hugo’s Pizzeria (Currently Closed)
It’s true, Hugo’s isn’t open anymore, but we really liked some of the pizzas there. This eggy pizza here, called the “Farm Boy” or something of the like, was a delightful, gooey mess.
Hugo’s wasn’t the best, but it was an all around great pizza with a nice tender crust and good flavors all around. We used to get their regular pepperoni for carryout all the time.
Moving on to another local food empire, this one being from the Gerard Craft family of restaurants, is Pastaria. This place is mostly known for its pasta and small plates, but the pizza here is something spectacular. The crust is seriously on point and the flavors really work well together.
The pizza pictured above had the perfect spicy, savory notes of Salume Beddu’s ‘Nduja sausage paired with garlic, oregano, and honey. A seriously delicious pizza and something special to get when feeling a little down.
Porano (Currently Closed)
We were not familiar with Detroit-style pizza prior to Porano being open. This now closed Gerard Craft restaurant was fast-casual place that mainly focused on make-your-own pasta bowls. They introduced their pizza later on and we miss it.
Detroit-style is a pan pizza with lots of melty cheese that often gets nice and crispy on the edges. The toppings available were mildly reminiscent of those available at Pastaria (Salume Beddu ‘Nduja with pineapple was featured on one of the topping options).
Pizzeoli (Under new ownership)
Pizzeoli was started by a man named Scott Sandler who left the world of finance to explore his love of pizza and dough. The place is under new ownership now, but back in the day Pizzeoli featured vegetarian wood-fired pizza with an absolute perfect crust.
Here is a video we made back when we still made our web-series “We Eat Stuff in the Kitchen”:
Scott sold his company and opened up the new, more punkish, Pizza Head:
Pizza Head is Scott Sandler’s newer brain-child, focusing on New York pizza slices that are either vegetarian or even vegan (think cashew-cheese… but is that a pizza then?).
Our favorite here is the pepperoni, which if you were not told was vegetarian you might not even notice. While not perfect, it matches the same flavor and texture as real pepperoni more perfectly than anything we’ve ever had. The whole place has an a NYC/punk aesthetic that you would not expect for a vegetarian restaurant, which only adds to its charm.
Pie Guy STL
For simple good pizza, Pie Guy STL is a great addition to The Grove neighborhood. They make a great late-night grab when seeing a show at The Ready Room or when having tippled too much at another location and needing something quick and easy to soak up the booze.
Also, they interesting specials now and then, like these “knotchos”:
Okay, so the picture above is definitely not pizza, but it’s pizza inspired, right?
You don’t have to get a jumbo pizza that can feed a whole army here, but you can. Firecracker Pizza is another entry into the Chip Schloss entertainment strip on the Grove. The pizza is thin crust with (generally) mozzarella.
One of the main focuses here was to make the toppings tender enough, especially the pepperoni, to be bitten through instead fo pulling off whole into your mouth. They also have interesting specials from time to time, including one with Beast Craft BBQ which, at the time of writing this artice, we are waiting for to open in the Grove as well:
These are just a few of the pizza options in St. Louis, but we hope it shows the wide variety of options available, past and present. There are so many incredible options available we haven’t even touched on, like Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, Louie’s on Demun, and many, many others.
What are some of your favorite pizzas in St. Louis? Where should we go next?
This is our first bit of writing in over 2 years. We are going to try to make Medium the new home for our more verbose musings on the St. Louis food scene.
Thanks for reading!
- Christine & Charlie
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Some of the top suggestions we’ve gotten from people after posting this include:
- Union Loafers
- Pizza Tivoli
Thanks for the suggestions! We’ve been to some of these but not all of them!