I have been lucky enough to live just within reach of New Haven pizza for almost all of my life. The only problem is that when I came here to St. Louis, a passionate thin crust pizza lover, I became extremely fearful that I would only be able to consume deep dish pizza, which I don’t really consider to be pizza at all. Worse than deep dish though, Provel cheese is actually put on Imo’s Pizza. Frank Pepe, a New Haven pizza legend, would be rolling over in his grave if he knew pizzas like this existed. However, many months later I have stumbled upon three spots that can give Pi Pizzeria a serious run for its money.
Photo courtesy of www.riverfronttimes.com
Right across the street from Schnucks, the favorite grocery store of WUSTL students, stands Katie’s Pizzeria Cafe, which is much closer to campus than Katie’s Pizza and Pasta (while one might naturally assume, this restaurant isn’t owned by the same people who own Katie’s Pizza and Pasta). We chose the original Katie’s because of its charm, quality, and proximity to campus. At Katie’s Pizzeria Cafe every ingredient is made from scratch in house every day. I have been in search of perfect crust crispiness, a tossed by hand thin crust, fresh ingredients, and an ideal ratio of crust to sauce to cheese. Finally, I think I may have found it. Katie’s Pizzeria Cafe, a Richmond heights staple, channels the spirit of the original thin-crust pizza from Naples. Katie Lee, the namesake, handcrafts the pizzas and has practically perfected the art. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually been to the physical establishment, but with the help of Postmates, I was able to nosh on its savory pizza.
Most pizza places here in St. Louis forget about basil for margherita pizzas, but Katie’s does no such thing. Their classic version of the quintessential pizza sports a robust, flavorful tomato sauce and they certainly didn’t skimp on it, which Dewey’s did to a degree. On the other hand Katie’s was lacking in the mozzarella department. I love quality fresh mozz, but they have to give me more than a few meager specks of it. More importantly though, the crust was perfectly doughy and nicely burned. The added touch was how thin it was, coupled with a noticeable, but not overpowering level of spice. Overall, Katie’s is miles ahead of many of its competitors and certainly deserves an A rating for St. Louis pizza.
Meanwhile, across campus, and not too far down the road from Pi, on Delmar lies Dewey’s Pizza. One of the 22 locations by Andrew DeWitt spread throughout Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and St. Louis, it blows Imo’s and other St. Louis staples out of the water.
Being a dough boy at heart, my friends and I also ordered from Dewey’s on the same night. Their version of the margherita pie had an elegant crust that I have been missing out on for the last few months. It was bubbly, but crispy and soft. The doughy pie had hints of garlic, which was an added bonus and finely sliced, thin tomato slices. Opposite of Katie’s, this pie had almost no sauce, basically a lack of it. On the other hand, they had an almost surprising amount of cheese for a margherita pizza. It was certainly delicious to eat, but Dewey’s may have to rework the cheese to sauce ratio on it’s margherita pie. Overall, Dewey’s is only slightly behind Katie’s in terms of mirroring NY style pizza. It deserves a solid A- rating for St. Louis Pizza.
Raccanellis New York Pizzeria
My quest for the best NY style pizza in St. Louis reached it’s end at Raccanellis, which thankfully delivers (not relying on Postmates saved a fortune). Also conveniently located on Delmar, owner John Raccanelli has been running the place since it opened in 1994. His experience didn’t begin there though. He brought 14 years worth of experience from the Bronx where his family has been cranking out authentic hand tossed New York style pizza for quite some time. It’s easy to tell that he sticks to what he learned back then only serves dishes made with ingredients freshly made from scratch. He even takes the time to grind the mozzarella. Staying true to tradition, he continue to bakes the pizzas in brick ovens instead of typical electric conveyer ovens. Even after one pizza it’s immediately clear that his pizza is a classic iteration New York style pizza that is absent in most of the Midwest.
It was honestly very similar to “dollar” pizza and I couldn’t get enough of it. Raccanelli uses quality tomatoes and a perfect ratio of sauce to cheese. He even got the grease to just the right amount, which as my friend put it, is enough to remind you that it’s pizza and supposed to be unhealthy. Our sole criticism was that although the pizza had a thin, doughy, uncharred crust, it was a tad undercooked. Overall, we loved every bite and award an A rating for St. Louis Pizza. I would happily return to this or any one of the other 4 locations.