As our taste buds mature in this golden era of food, casual diners are beginning to discover the regional spins on a variety of dishes, from BBQ sauce to burritos. Despite what Domino’s might have you believe, pizza varies from state to state, too, and we’re not just talking about Chicago and New York. An unheralded innovator in the slice scene are the chefs of St. Louis, who have perfected their own unique take on the humble Italian pie. If you’re curious, the gourmands at First We Feast have offered up their own primer on the pizza.
The key? Provel cheese, a staple of the St. Louis area that distinguishes itself by infusing liquid smoke into its blend of cheddar, provolone, and swiss. Heat is key to the St. Louis pizza; the subtle flavor of that smoke is complemented by a layer of sliced soppressata and a sprinkling of pickled chiles. And, while it’s not the rarest of practices, the pizza is then cut into “party squares.”
What’s especially rare in this age of proliferation is a city having an ingredient that it can very much still call its own. Sure, you can find Provel scattered throughout the country, but having such a singular touch distinguishes it in ways that transcend mere construction. Of course, St. Louis has long had a history of this kind of culinary curiosity—just look at the St. Paul sandwich.