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Food & Drink

The Best Pizzerias in St. Louis

18 local spots to find the perfect pie

Photograph by Greg Rannells

(page 1 of 4)

Years ago, I worked in quality control for a pizza chain. Five days a week for almost two years, my job was to taste and compare pizzas from unit to unit. The funny thing? I never tired of eating it and crave it to this day. So more recently, as St. Louis has seen a rise in the number—and quality—of its independent pizza parlors, no one’s been happier than me. With this culinary pleasure in mind, I hereby salute not only the latecomers to our city’s collective pizza party, but also several of the classic pizza joints…those that may never be topped. —George Mahe, Dining Editor 



Vito’s

Fuggedabout Coupons
Pizza is like dry cleaning: It’s a business driven by endless coupons. Only the elite can avoid the jump into that unsavory scrum. And so it is with Vito’s. Here, the dichotomy of the pizza crust has been mastered—it’s simultaneously crunchy and chewy—and devotees willingly pay full price to marvel at the feat. And is it so hard to leave a bead of sauce near the crust’s edge, a savory gift to better enjoy it? Mmm…indeed not. Stick those pizza coupons in a drawer, folks, and save ’em for some less-than-perfect pie.
3515 Lindell, 314-534-8486, vitosstl.com.

Pizza video from Peter Kurzok on Vimeo.

Katie’s Pizzeria Café

The Town’s Top Toppings
Start with a glass of decadent red wine, or perhaps a pull of microbrew from the taps. Linger over a fried-artichoke salad whose delicacy belies its name, or prosciutto-wrapped spring rolls imbued with all the sharply contrasting, mouth-filling flavors the name suggests. Lust over the cannellini-bean dip. Move on to a main course that includes Italian sausage, leeks, parsnips, pancetta, asparagus, squash blossoms, shrimp, goat cheese, fontina cheese, mozzarella cheese... Oh, by the way, those are the toppings for Katie’s pizzas—utterly unique, incredibly tasty pizzas (many of them technically white pies) that push the very limits of pizza-making. The same can be said for those adult bevs and apps, by far the best of any pizza parlor around.
6611 Clayton, 314-727-8585, katiespizzeria.com.

 

Frank & Helen’s Pizzeria

Topped With Nostalgia
Frank & Helen’s is one of those been-around-forever, never-changed-a-bit local joints that’ll give even the recently initiated an unshakable case of deja vu. It’s famous for two things: “broasted” chicken, which many a regular will request time and again without ever knowing just what broasting is, and pizza. Pizza that’s cooked on pizza stones, rendering the crust terrifically crispy. Pizza that you can order extra-thin, thin, or thick, topped with Provel or mozzarella or cheddar or Parmesan or even Gorgonzola—yet, in the foggy recognizance of collective memory, most folks’ll tell you that Frank & Helen’s serves St. Louis–style pizza and none else. That’s just the wistful yearning for another visit.
8111 Olive, 314-997-0666, frankandhelens.com.

 

Pizza A-Go-Go

Pushing 50 With Pride
Pizza A-Go-Go has been around so long, it remembers when Gaslight Square housed nightclubs, not condos. That was the shop’s original location, but it’s been a South City stalwart for decades. As has its pizza, which defies our collective obsession with categorization: Though the thin-crust kind is popular here, it’s not St. Louis–style, but not quite New York–style either. The crust is only as sturdy as it needs to be to support a saucing of tangy tomato, a proper amount of melted mozz, and whatever blue-collar toppings you like. Has anyone ever named a style of pizza “American Pie”? Let’s call this that.
6703 Scanlan, 314-781-1234, pizzaagogo.blogspot.com.

 

Francesco’s Pizza

A Side of “That’s Amore!”
Say the magic words “No Provel, grazie, mozzarella per favore,” and prepare for a slice of stone-baked satisfaction. A family-run, strip-mall joint in St. Peters, Francesco’s uses ingredients that are particularly fresh and flavorful. Texas stockyards have less meat on them than the sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and ham Deluxe here. On weekends, waiting for a table can make an NPR pledge break seem swift, and in-house karaoke’s painful, but the pizza’s worth it.
435 S. Church, St. Peters, 636-397-1883.

 

JFires’ Market Bistro

Defining “Illinois-Style” Pizza
Once again, JFires’ gets our vote for Best Pizza Served in a Two-Century-Old Illinois Farmhouse. A spectacular wood-fired oven here brings forth tasty pizzas with a pillowy, chewy thick crust. Toppings like shrimp scampi and barbecue chicken with smoked Gouda are inventive without being absurd. Go with the combination of Gorgonzola and fontina that’s drizzled with roasted-garlic oil. It’s a splendid combination of taste and texture.
725 N. Market, Waterloo, Ill., 618-939-7233, jfires.com.

 

Balducci’s Winefest

Best Downstairs Pizza Since Rossino’s
Like having dinner in your St. Louis uncle’s rathskeller, a night at Balducci’s offers family and fun and pizza with a supermodel-skinny crust—though the hand-tossed, deep-dish version has its acolytes, too. Pies arrive hot, tricked out with generous sprinkles of oregano and basil and a pleasing blend of mozzarella and Provel. A tangy sweetness distinguishes Balducci’s tomato sauce, one that flavors without overwhelming. This is the place for a pie topped with perfectly seasoned sausage.
12527 Bennington, 314-576-5024, balduccisstlouis.com.

 

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Old to new | New to old
Nov 6, 2010 10:43 pm
 Posted by  lilredscout

I am not in STL anymore. No good pizza where I am now...well Mario Batali's joint but its insanely crowded loud and expensive.

STL Pizza, yes. For non gourmet, hands down Frank's Pizza A GoGo, Imo's (yes IMOS.)

For cuisine gourmet and damn good folks: RED L Pizza, and Katies.

done.

Feb 5, 2011 05:27 pm
 Posted by  Patb

Roberto's Italian Restaurant on Shakelford and Mullanphy in Florissant.....they have the BEST pizza!

Feb 20, 2011 12:10 pm
 Posted by  MamaEats

LaPizza is by far the BEST pizza you'll ever eat in the Midwest, let alone St. Louis!! I've been taking my family there for years, since they first opened on Delmar. Since we moved out of the area, it's a good hour drive, but once there, we all feel it's well worth the trip!!! My kids always love watching Poli Jr. tossing the dough, he's very friendly and has always made the family feel welcome! It is a smaller size eatery but if you get there at the right time you can usually get a table. They also have delivery if you're in the local area. It would be nice if they could expand the seating. After eating the awesome pizza, we order one to go.. Just can't get enough.. Definitely has my vote for #1!!! Try it, you'll love it!!!

Sep 7, 2012 10:03 pm
 Posted by  White Sox Willie

JJ Twigs??? Really?? Are you kidding? $8.99 for a Ital beef sandwich? Maybe $8.99 for two of 'em. That's robbery. Until St. Louis can come up with something close to Gonnella or Turano bread, Scala's beef, and a good giardiniera mix, please do not charge more than $2.00 more than a "Big" Ital beef (not the regular size) at Portillo's, which may be the 5th or 6th best "Italian Beef" in Chicago.

Stick with St. Louis style ribs, BBQ, and trying to pawn off fake cheese (provel) on whatever the product is that you call "St. Louis" pizza. IT'S NOT PIZZA! It's pressed burnt crust with ketchup and fake cheese.

For a city that openly critizes Chicago, you sure spend a large amount of time trying to copy it!

Jun 14, 2013 04:07 pm
 Posted by  monkeymix

Since White Sox Willie posted out of the blue more than a year after the previous post, I will do the same. St Louis pizza is FAR SUPERIOR to Chicago "pizza" which isn't pizza....it's a casserole. And I make better casseroles at home, thankyouverymuch.PS How is St Louis trying to copy Chicago? If anything, it revels in the very fact that it's different. Chicago; okay to visit (if I have to), wouldn't want to live there.

Feb 13, 2014 09:53 pm
 Posted by  fasteddie.mo

There is no serious discussion of the best St. Louis pizzas if it does not include Schottzies!! I know it is a dive, but that is good pizza.

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