What it is: Perhaps the most divisive pizza in the US -- sushi pizza be damned -- St. Louis’ take on pizza is a cracker-thin, overloaded, square-sliced round pie not dissimilar in appearance to a tavern pie, but with a thinner crust and approximately a metric ton more oregano. Sounds normal. But the division comes into play in the form of Provel, a cultishly beloved processed blend of Cheddar, Swiss, and provolone that some liken to Velveeta in consistency. Purists call fowl. But fans are passionate that this is, in fact, one of the best acquired tastes in America.
Where it came from: Provel was trademarked in 1947, but, according to a fascinating thin-crust deep-dive by Feast Magazine, it didn’t find its way onto a pizza until stalwart Luigi’s Restaurant tossed it on a pie back in 1953. Luca “Luigi” Meglio -- who also developed a conveyor belt pizza oven and became a frozen pizza magnate -- was the innovator, but it was Ed and Margie Imo who cemented the style in the city’s fabric in 1963, opening up Imo's, which would become a massive chain of St. Louis-style pizzerias that have basically become synonymous with the style. Now, you can get a proven-topped in pubs and pizzerias throughout the area. For the rest of the country, it remains an oddity. For folks in St. Louis, it’s pure comfort.
Where to get it: Imo’s is most popular and famous purveyor of the style, almost synonymous with St. Louis Pizza. And as a bonus, they'll even ship frozen pies to St. Louis expats (cough, Jon Hamm). Upscale St. Louis eatery Guido’s puts an emphasis on authentic Italian and Spanish fare, save for the pizza, which reps St. Louis in all its authentic Provel glory. DeRienzo’s built up a following over the years, and it ain't for clean living, either. Case in point, the glorious Big Joe's DeLuxe, loaded with sausage, hamburger, bacon, pepperoni, onion, peppers, mushrooms, and, yup, plenty of Provel.