A Hamburger Today
Farotto's, St. Louis: Thin, Sweet, and Provel'd
9525 Manchester Road, St. Louis MO 63119 (map);
Pizza style: St. Louis–style
Oven type: Gas
The skinny: St. Louis–style pizza might just be an acquired taste
Price: Small cheese pie, $10; large, $12
Since Imo's, the most popular chain of pizzerias in the St. Louis area, has been covered not once, but twice by Slice contributors, I decided to branch out on a recent visit to the Gateway City and check out another local institution, Farotto's.
It's a pleasant place—renovated and expanded over the years from a simple pizza joint—with a waitstaff that was attentive and responsive in helping us out-of-towners navigate a menu filled with St. Louis specialties.
But, sadly, St. Louis–style pizza just isn't for me. Although I don't generally hold with the Pizza Cognition Theory, the differences between St. Louis pies and my native New York pizza might simply be too vast for me to bridge.
The crust was so thin that it could have been repurposed for use in a quesadilla, the tomato sauce was so sweet it bordered on becoming barbecue sauce, and the cheese was Provel, a processed mixture of Swiss, provolone and cheddar.
I think I could have handled one or even two of those elements, but all three together was simply too much for me.
The pie was "party cut", meaning it was a round pie cut into squares. The outside pieces of the pie had the best texture; the cheese was browned in places and the outside rim of the crust was crisp, but that lasted only briefly. The interior pieces were sturdy enough to support the toppings, but not crisp enough to really give the pizza any snap. Since Provel has a texture closer to Velveeta than stringy mozzarella, the pizza offered little chewiness.
The sweetness of the sauce overpowered any flavor the Provel might have, and the sausage was extremely mild. It was a pizza with no "sharp edges" in terms of both texture and flavor.
I'm sorry, St. Louis, I didn't like your pizza.
If it makes you feel better, I did enjoy the other St. Louis specialties we sampled: Farotto's toasted ravioli, the Schlafly beer we drank, the ice cream we got at Ted Drewes on the way back to our hotel, and the pretzel-encased sausage from Gus' Pretzels that I'm ashamed to admit I ate for breakfast the next day. Those are St. Louis specialties I'd happily return for. Farotto's pizza: not so much.