Quad City, Salisbury Beach, Huge Slice: American Twisted Pizza Styles

(Dylan Moriarty / The Washington Post)

Some people like to say that there’s no such thing as bad pizza, which is a debatable premise. But I think it’s fair to assume that there’s no such thing as mystery pizza. certainly, You You may not have heard of something called “Salisbury Beach Pizza”, but for many people it is as essential a part of their summer experience as an ice cream cone might be for you.

Best pizza in America, region by region

So we wouldn’t refer to these weird patterns associated with certain areas as “off the beaten track” (because what path are we talking about?) or “hidden gems” (in some cases, there are literal neon signs pointing you to them!). Instead, let’s take a tour of some exotic pizzas that inspire devotion from slightly younger slices of the population than those big guys in Chicago or New York.

Named after the Pennsylvania institution where it originated sometime in the 1960s or 1970s, the Altoona Hotel Pizza, sometimes called Altoona-style, is unlikely to win any beauty awards. The base is a thick Sicilian crust, topped with tomato sauce, salami and green peppers – and the chipange is covered entirely with slices of yellow American cheese, which isn’t the sexiest finish.

Growing up in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Steve Korklick had no interest in the local dish, even though his older sister was obsessed with it. “It’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it things, you know what I mean?” his restaurant, 29th Street Pizza, Subs and MoreIt’s one of the places that started serving it after the old Altoona Hotel burned down in 2013. He says Korclik’s version is more generous with peppers and salami than the original.

Unlike many pies served in that other city in the Empire State, Buffalo-style pizza isn’t meant to be folded. Its foundation—a quick-rising dough pressed into an oiled griddle—is sturdy for good reason, says Andrew Gallarno, food editor at Buffalo News. “One notable aspect is that the cheese is layered in abandon,” he says.

They’re also widely spread, leaving a simple crust (some locals ask for “no trim” to be sure, and to ensure a frico-like ring as the cheese sizzles on the pan). Other distinguishing features? A slightly sweet sauce and a generous crop of cobb pepperoni and char, which curl under the oven’s heat, forming little goblets splattered with oil.

“It’s the kind of pizza that might help you get through a blizzard if you’re stuck with one in the car,” says Gallarno, who adds that you can find “models of this kind” at No Nova, Bocce Club Pizza And Imperial Pizza.

“It’s thin, crunchy, and nostalgic,” says Hannah Selinger, a food writer from Massachusetts who grew up eating this coastal pizza, sometimes referred to as New England beach pizza (since it’s traditionally served in both Salisbury, Massachusetts) and “Beach Pizza” and neighboring Seabrook Beach in New Hampshire) or by locals simply as “Beach Pizza”. The ingredients are simple: a wafer of crust formed into a rectangle, sweet sauce and a small amount of mozzarella cheese (sometimes topped with rounds of provolone). A sprinkling of garlic powder is a frequent addition.

What makes a nondescript pie special, Selinger says, is the specific sense of place its taste evokes—a rarity in today’s everything-everything-anytime food culture. Where there’s beach pizza, there’s sand between your toes and an arcade game (suppliers included) awaits Cristaldi, Tripoli And Christy). “It’s experimental, you don’t get it or eat it in a restaurant,” she says. “You have to eat it standing on the beach or bring it to the beach from the boardwalk.” Part of the experience, she points out, is that the beaches are specially designed for concrete rubbish disposal with holes the perfect size for pizza boxes.

In Old Forge, a town near Scranton, Pennsylvania, the pizza tradition revolves around language. You order your ‘tray’, not the pie, from a ‘pizza café’. A “slide” is called a “cut”. Semantics aside, there are ingredients in signature pizza that set it apart. The crust is similar to Sicilian crust, but slightly thinner and crispier, and the cheese is often a blend that includes Cheddar and American cheese along with the expected mozzarella. The city’s white pizza is less traditional: it has a top and bottom crust stuffed with plenty of cheese and toppings of your choice – but no sauce at all.

Angelo Genell has been making trays for 45 years; His parents opened Arcaro and Jenelle in 1962. Prides itself for doing things the way they’ve always been done: two crust heights, which are hand-stretched in pans that have developed aging from years of use. When it comes to toppings, Jenelle says anything goes—homemade meatballs and shrimp and peppers are very popular. He’s Homer from a town that boldly calls itself the “Pizza Capital of the World,” and explains that different coffee shops have different recipes. He says his sauce is smoother than others, while other restaurants may adjust their cheese blends. “But,” Jenelle insists, “you can’t find bad pizza in this town.”

The defining feature of this highly local style is, as its name suggests, its gigantic proportions. One slice “runs from the tip of my middle finger to the crease of my arm,” says Ruth Tam, writer and artist who co-hosts the Dish City podcast that explores the capital’s culinary scene. “It is flexible – there is no structural integrity.”

the The origin story of the jumbo slice It unfolded in 1999, when Chris Cechetti, owner Pizza Mart In the Adams Morgan neighborhood, I decided to use up some leftover dough by combining it with another ball to form a larger-than-usual pie. The style, sold by the slice and topped almost exclusively with either cheese or flat pepperoni strips, quickly caught on among the crowds of twentysomethings pouring out of nearby bars late at night.

Several other nearby establishments began selling similar chips, and eventually portions became cartoonishly inflated, as did the duel neighborhood (one competitor’s sign promoting the “Authentic Jumbo Slice” prompted Chishti to comment one proclaiming “The Real Authentic Jumbo Slice”) Then another claiming to offer “the first original jumbo chip older”). The slices are usually served on two overlapping paper plates or on a personal pizza box, although the slice must still be folded to fit.

Tam admits there isn’t anything particularly tasty about the jumbo slice, which is typically used as a sponge meant to soak up the last sip or two of your unwanted drink. “It’s less of a meal and more of a rite of passage,” she says. “There’s better pizza in DC, but the jumbo slice is a treat.”

The region straddling the region bisected by the Mississippi River in southeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois boasts a variety of pies that are distinguished by their unique shapes and flavors. In a style of pizza that originated in the region sometime in the middle of the last century, the dough is usually bound with barley, which gives it a bit of sweetness and a warm, dark brown colour. By contrast, says Jeremy Burbridge, who has spent more than 20 years making pizza in the United States Frank’s Pizzeria in Silvis, Illinois.Which opened in 1955 and helped spread this style.

Get the recipe: Quad Cities style pizza

Sausage dipped in fennel is a traditional choice, but whatever the topping, it works under the cheese. “It makes a good blanket to keep it together,” says Burbridge. The most unique aspect of Quad City pizza is the way the rings are cut: not in wedge-shaped slices, but in slices that form a grid across the face of the pie. This means that the crust is not evenly distributed, creating the potential for conflict between diners. “Some people fight about it,” Burbridge says.

Ask your hometown fan what makes such a difference, and you’ll hear a chorus as unmistakable as that nod to Missouri: It’s cheese, doll. Born in St. Louis, Proville is a butter-colored processed cheese that combines Cheddar, Swiss, and Provolone. With a texture similar to American flavour, and a slight smoky undertone, the great spread is what makes pizza a St. Louis pizza. according to International Maritime Organizationthe franchised restaurant that opened in 1964 and popularized the style, the choice to use it was just a whim of the chef.

Get the recipe: St. Louis Style Pizza

The crust is also unusual – it is thin and unleavened, and is often described as “crispy”. The topping is spread all the way to the edges, and the cut is square. While the town’s pie has a large following, it can also be divisive. Late night host Jimmy Kimmel, whose wife, writer and producer Molly McNearney hails from St. Louis, has made criticism of emo a running joke. “Seriously, we can fight now,” Olympic gymnast Simone Biles said during the meet. The appearanceafter Kimmel claimed that “Provel is the most disgusting cheese in the world.”


An earlier version of this story misstated the areas of Iowa and Illinois included in the Quad Cities.

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