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We went there: What are the St. Louis pizza joints you must try?

Slices from La Pizza, one the pizza establishments featured in Sauce Magazine's pizza issue.
Carmen Troesser | Sauce Magazine
Slices from La Pizza, one the pizza establishments featured in Sauce Magazine's pizza issue.

All pizzas are not created equal.

"Most pizzas I would eat and enjoy, but that does not mean they are all good,” said Heather Hughes, managing editor of Sauce Magazine.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Hughes was joined by Catherine Klene and Meera Nagarajan, the magazine’s managing editor and art director to discuss just what St. Louis pizzerias are worth your time.

What are the St. Louis pizza joints that should be on your must-try list? We speak with Sauce Magazine's editors, who recently profiled local spots in their "pizza issue."

They’re the first to admit that their recent pizza issue has caused some controversy, as it surely would — St. Louisans are fiercely loyal to their favorite pizza joint, have distinct opinions on their love or hate of Provel cheese and what kind of crust they seek out.

The team at Sauce Magazine started the research process for this issue with every pizza they could find in their database, then manually added not just pizza places but also restaurants that serve pizza on their menu.

The largest portion of the issue was devoted to “old-school” pizza places, of which they picked the best 12. Every pizza joint on the list but for one is over 10 years old. The outlier was Pi Pizzeria, which has already reached legend status with a seal of approval from President Barack Obama back in 2008.

“These have got to be places that look like where you’d go after a Little League Game,” Klene said. “It’s that place everyone goes to — an American-style pizzeria.”

So, the first question: did the “square beyond compare” make the issue?

Well, naturally, Imo’s Pizzais on there, but as Nagarajan put it: you’ve got to find your favorite restaurant location. For her, it is the location at Hampton and I-64/40.

“The crust is really crispy and they put the right amount of sauce on it, it is not too wet,” Nagarajan said of her favorite order: bacon, sausage and onion.

Here are some of their other favorites:

Monte Bello Pizzeria, 3662 Weber Road, St. Louis

This is the oldest pizzeria on Sauce’s list. It was originally opened in 1950. Tom Nix owns and runs the establishment today and has brought the pizzeria back to its roots.

“He literally found the original recipes in a cabinet somewhere and he had to use a magnifying glass to transcribe them,” Hughes said, her favorite slice being an Italian sausage pizza that has a good balance of fennel and spice.

Blackthorn Pub & Pizza, 3735 Wyoming St., St. Louis

“It is the most filling pizza I’ve ever had,” said Hughes of this deep dish-style pizza spot.

That’s by design. Owner Dave Difani, who bought the Tower Grove South spot in 1986, wanted to make his pizza an antidote to St. Louis-style because he finds it impossible to have a full meal from even a whole St. Louis-style pizza.

Pirrone’s Pizzeria, 1775 Washington St., Florissant

“This is a neighborhood institution in Florissant,” said Klene.

Sauce Magazine’s pick from this pizzeria is the “Jerry Special,” which has an ultra-thin, crisp crust with a sweet, Sicilian sauce, pepperoni, provel and extremely crispy bacon bits. There are also red pepper flakes in the sauce, which gives the pizza a subtle heat.

Check out the rest of the pizza places highlighted in Sauce Magazine’s Pizza issue, including La Pizza (pictured above), which you can find here.

This Sound Bites segment is produced as a part of a partnership between Sauce Magazine and St. Louis Public Radio.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air and Cityscape.