The Five Worst Regional Pizzas In America

“Pizza is a lot like sex.  When it’s good, it’s really good.  When it’s bad?  It’s still pretty good.  And when it’s God awful, you find you can’t stop screaming, and it takes years for the nightmares to finally stop.”

~You

 grossa

Yesterday, we showed you the five best regional pizza styles in America, with a hidden agenda of angering New Yorkers.  Today, we’re looking at the dark underbelly of pizza.  Because, as great as America is at making pizza, not everyone can get it right.  Hell, Brazil makes and eats 1.4 million pizzas every day, but even with all that practice they still do shit like put chocolate on it.  So as great as pizza is, it’s not always a winner.  The best pizzas?  Are glorious.

These pizzas?  Are terrifying.

The Five Worst Regional Pizzas In America

gross american flag pizza

California-Style Pizza

california style pizza

When talking about California, it’s hard to separate the numerous demographics in our nation’s largest state.  San Francisco has about as much in common with Los Angeles as Amsterdam does with Singapore.  But if there’s one thing that’s generally assumed about the state, it’s that if you’re not talking about hamburgers, it’s best not to leave the state to their own devices when trying to make junk food.  As we mentioned yesterday, in 1980 the East Coast was discovering that you could put a pizza on a grill.  That same year, on the opposite side of the nation, a chef working for an Austrian-run chain of restaurants and a few chefs working at a Berkeley restaurant decided that pizza doesn’t have to be pizza.

California style pizzas are prepared on a thin crust, but the crust itself doesn’t matter as much as the ingredients, which tend to be nontraditional and heavily focused on fresh produce.  Here’s a bit of a pro-tip when it comes to pizza—crust matters.  The consistency, flavor, and dexterity of a crust is all you need to differentiate a New York-style pizza pie with New Haven, Chicago thin crust, or a goddamn DiGorno’s.  If you can’t describe your crust with any more detail than, “I don’t know, uh, Italian-style?” you’re doing pizza wrong.  California-style pizza focuses on toppings, but instead of tomato sauce, cheese, sausage, and heartburn, you’re left with honey, soy sauce, peanuts, and the undying hatred towards whoever asked you for a slice of pizza.

When you were first introduced to California pizza…well, you were probably in high school, and your friends thought that CPK was a classy way to spend a lunch.  It didn’t really occur to you that the only pizzas on the menu were either strange combinations of ingredients with the name “Spicy Chipotle Chicken” or just normal pizzas that look disgusting.  Does a California Club with bacon, chicken, lettuce, and mayonnaise sound good to you?  It does, right?  Now, how about taking all that shit, placing it on a pizza crust, and tossing it in the oven.  Not so great, right?  We didn’t think so.  Of course these pizzas (mostly) at least have cheese, unlike…

Tomato Pies

tomato pie

Tomato pie is a type of pizza that’s been around America almost as long as regular pizza, as it’s been available since at least 1914.  The difference between pizza and tomato pie largely stems from the fact that pizza is warm, delicious, and makes you forget your troubles, while tomato pie is lukewarm, without cheese, and hands you a bottle of pills while whispering, “Go ahead, do it, no one will miss you.”

Tomato pie takes a thick, focaccia-like dough, covers it in tomato sauce, and then sprinkles enough grated romano cheese to make you say “huh, I guess there’s a little bit of cheese on this thing.  Maybe.”  Once it’s cooked, it’s not immediately served, as tomato pie is supposed to be served at room temperature, making tomato pies equal parts “salmonella risk” and “the worst thing to serve to your twelve-year old daughter as you talk to her about her changing body.”  This style typically is seen in New Jersey, Utica, Pennsylvania, and other cities where people occasionally walk into pizza restaurants and leave disappointed.

Listen, pizza only has three main ingredients—bread, cheese, and tomato.  At the end of the day, that holy mixture is the reason why pizza is as popular as it is today.  Tomato pies apparently decided to remove the best one without doing anything special to the remaining two other than “let it cool down on the counter for a while so you can really taste the…room-temperature-ness of it all.”  Here’s the thing about room temperature—it’s a great temperature for a room to be, and a terrible one for any kind of food.  A room temperature pizza sounds about as appealing to us as a room temperature beer, and goddamn you for making us think about the sin that is room temperature beer.  Ugh.

Quad City-Style Pizza

quad city-style pizza

Eww gross, someone threw up on this pizza!  Wait…wait, really?  That’s how it’s supposed to look?  Um…

Quad City-style pizza, perhaps not surprisingly, originated in the Quad Cities region at the border of Iowa and Illinois, which comprises of Moline, Rock Island, and East Moline in Illinois along with Bettendorf and Davenport in Iowa.  We’re just going to list off what makes this pizza style unique without breaking off into commentary, but just assume that after every other word we’re saying “gross” in parentheses.

A Quad City-style pizza uses a dough that has a “spice jam” that is heavy on malt, leading to a toasted nutty flavor, which is then coated with a thin spicy tomato sauce, and covered in sausage and mozzarella before being put in a gas oven for 12 minutes.  It is then cut with scissors into strips instead of being cut into slices because wait okay we can’t hold our tongue any longer, are they fucking serious here?  “Spice jam”?  Malt?  Scissors?  And, again, just look at that thing.  It looks gross.  And that’s when you have someone trying to make it look as tasty as humanly possible.  Wikipedia is far less kind.

Ugh, at this point we’re starting to worry that we bit off more than we could chew.  That might be a pizza pun, we don’t know, it’s all just running together as a string of awful looking pies.

Ohio Valley-Style Pizza

 ohio valley style pizza

Ohio has suffered a lot.  Cleveland is, well, Cleveland, their whole population spends all their time trying to get out of there by going into space, Pennsylvania is always making fun of them, they have a rough lot.  Making matters worse is that their attempt at making pizza, the Ohio Valley-style, seems to have been invented by a chef who wanted to find an elaborate way to turn pizza into a joke on an entire region.  Like the delicious Detroit-style pizza, this is cooked in a square.  Unlike that testament to grease and cooking-shit-in-industrial-parts-trays, these pizzas are filled with cold, uncooked toppings.  That’s right, after the sauce (don’t get too exciting, it’s literally just stewed tomatoes), crust, and a tiny amount of base cheese is cooked, the rest of the cheese and additional toppings are sprinkled on top like a fucking lunchables.

God.  Dammit.

To quote a native Ohio Valley…an, “Are we ahead of our time when it comes to making pizza, or are we just fucked up?  I’m voting for the latter.”  We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

St. Louis-Style Pizza

st. louis style pizza

Oh boy.  Here we go.  St. Louis isn’t that far from Chicago.  It’s not.  So, maybe much like the residents of the Quad City area, they feel like they have to compete with what we’ve determined is the best pizza in America.  If that’s the case, they clearly got a case of the yips, because the pizza style that they developed looks less like a delicious meal and more like a suicide note left by a despondent chef.  They went out of their way to find a unique way to ruin each of the key three ingredients of pizza in a way that, honestly, is impressive.  When someone takes a test and tries to get a zero on it, it’s almost as impressive as getting a 100%, because you have to know enough about the right answers to purposely get it wrong.  That’s why we at least will tip our hats to St. Louis, because they clearly know enough about pizza to fuck it up beyond recognition.

First, let us start with the crust.  As opposed to other pizzas, or any type of bread other than matzo, St. Louis-style pizza doesn’t use yeast, resulting in a thin, cracker-like crust.  Obviously, eating a burnt cracker is only so appealing, so to take things up a notch by putting sugar in their sauce, since if you’re going to make something awful, you might as well let it punish the diabetics stupid enough to try to eat it.  Finally, they created their own type of cheese to put on this pizza.  Having more in common with Velveeta than anything you’ve ever wanted to put on a pizza, Provel cheese is popular in St. Louis and nowhere else because just look at it.  The fact that it’s the awful cheese put on an awful pizza would explain why it never caught on with the rest of the nation.  Why St. Louis embraces it remains a mystery.  We suspect that the entire city is being held hostage by Kraft Foods.  “Dammit, buy Provel and eat St. Louis Pizza, or so help us, we’ll poison Matt Holliday’s coffee.”  (Pro tip:  St. Louis residents will do anything in order to stop a member of the Cardinals from being poisoned.)

Ugh.  Just thinking about all these pizzas is making us sick.  Here, go back to the one about the tasty pizzas again.  That’s a much better way to go.  Just go to your happy place.  Your cheesy, saucy happy place.

32 responses to “The Five Worst Regional Pizzas In America

  1. The Quad City-Style-Pizza is incredibly disgusting in its native form—too much cheese and undercooked (thanks to the bad technique stole from one restaurant and spread region-wide for some misguided reason). Order it light on the cheese from one of the many pretender purveyors and request it cooked brown on top, and you have a fine variant of South side Chicago pizza. South side pizza—run through a pastry roller and with uncooked sausage on top—is superior, but the QC crust and tangy sauce with lighter cheese and crumbled sausage is a nice subset.

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  3. http://www.timeout.com/chicago/food-drink/best-new-pizzeria-eat-out-awards-2012
    Weird that in the city that has the best pizza places on the planet that a Quad City style pizza place was named the best new pizzaeria of 2012.
    You’re right it must be really gross.

    • We asked one of our Chicago staffers, and his response was, “To be fair, only two pizzerias opened in Chicago in all of 2012. It’s still bad, and gross, and people who defend it should feel uneasy about their taste in pizza. Also, half of the write up of this place recommends a pizza that puts fucking lettuce on it, which, what the hell.”

  4. Typical Liberal nonsense post- you call tomato pies a “salmonella risk”. For what? You already said there’s no cheese on it- no meat either, so where are you coming up w/ your “we need more big government to regulate pizza” bullshit??? You Obama lovers always want to find some way to bring “health” into your stupid, sorry-ass homo nonsense…

    • Are you fucking serious, Timothy K. Ready? Are you a person who exists in real fucking life? Is this how you spend your days, trolling the internet for two year old posts about pizzas from you hipster enclave in fucking Seattle to somehow manage to take personal offense at the fact that you are a garbage person who likes fucking tomato bread pretending to be pizza? This is literally part of a two-part pizza post where the “good” pizzas are so unhealthy they’re outlawed in Morocco, and you have the audacity to think we’re talking about health food when we say your cold tomato paste pizza bread is trash, and you don’t realize that you’re a fucking joke? Take a good hard look in the mirror, Timothy K. Ready, and go fuck right off along with your stale mush bread, you waste of an American voter registration.

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  7. What breed of moron wrote this? Cleveland pizza is completely different from “valley style” pizza. While Cleveland(and it’s pizza) may BE shit, (just like all other pizza anywhere and everywhere) real, legit “valley style” pizza, is no less than heaven on that thin, crisp yet delightfully pillowy, perfectly balanced crust, which is only found at a few joints between Cincinnati and Columbus. Before you start with the assumptions, I’d like to state that I have lived and travelled all around the US. Yes, I’ve lived in Chicago. Tried dozens of places there yet overall, the pizza was just average. Have lived elsewhere for over four years now, and I still get mad cravings for that glorious ohio pie… uuuugh lol.

  8. Um I don’t understand how you can have Tomato Pie on this list. Thats like saying an orange is the worst tasting banana. It’s not exactly Pizza. And I don’t know where you’ ve had it but Tomato Pie is amazing. Especially and most likely only in the bakeries of South Philly.

  9. St. Louis style pizza is fucking delicious. . If we wanted yeast in our pizza we’d call your Mom.

  10. Damnit! It’s Super B- Sunday, and I WANT SOME DICARLO’S PIZZA (Ohio Valley). Alas and alak, I am on the CT / MASS boarder.

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  12. Dude, valley style is my favorite. This article is based on personal opinions at best.

  13. Ohio Valley pizza is the best pizza. Even try it man? Uncultured round pizza normies. Jag off.

  14. Ohio Valley pizza is the BEST and you, sir, are on asshole.

  15. Patrick McMasters

    Ohio valley pizza rules….you just don’t have any taste. The cheese and pepperoni are steam cooked in the box after its tossed on top. Dont let any critic choose for you…try it yourself…there is a reason why there are so many people Trying to duplicate it from the crust up!
    Patrick McMasters
    Pmcmastets58@gmail.com

  16. Patrick McMasters

    Please Ohio Valley style enthusiasta let your voices, well, let your thoughts be heard…read! I like pizza in all of its glorious forms. Crust is the foundation, very important. Sauce is not for desert, so keep the sugar for your coffee in the north, and your sweeeeet yes in the south! As with BBQ, the wars rage in this nation. Pizza the same way. It comes down to personal preference. Since I left home at seventeen, I’ve tried to diligently find a replacement for DiCarlo’s Original, Ray’s of Wintersville, so many, so loved, all very close in flavor, crust. The originators, Primo, Galdo, Pepi, and Michael, forgive me If I’ve missed anyone, (3rd Street in Stuebenville, Ohio), Hilliard Ohio, Zanesville Ohio, Wheeling WVA, Weirton WVA, Pittsburgh PA, Myrtle Beach SC. For success such as this, someone with taste, and love of Pizza and where to find it..its not the worst and shouldn’t be berated as your article has done! Again, I love Pizza, all kinds! Least liked is any chain store pizza. Give me family owned, made with pride, no I haventbtried all that you mentioned. Due to traveling when younger, I had been in 2/3 of the USA from the east coast to the Midwest by the time I was 17. I then joined the USAF. I HAVE TRAVELED…I HAVE HAD PIZZA …..YOU NAME THE PLACE I MAY HAVE HAD IT…MAYBE NOT…..BUT READING YOUR BLOG …BEST…WORST…..SOME PEOPLE JUST WANT THE CLICKS FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSES. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN I WILL DRIVE 7.5 HOURS FOR OHIO VALLEY STYLE PIZZA…..OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS ONE….JUST LIKE EVERYONE HAS A BACKSIDE THAT WE SIT ON……MAKE YOUR OWN MIND UP….TRY IT….AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE YOUR OPINIONS….I DESPISE CRITICS ….I FIND MOST AREN’T WORTH THE TIME THEIR PARENTS……NEVER MIND ILL BE CIVIL! Sorry if I stepped on anyone’s toes!!!

  17. Patrick McMasters

    Depends on what that pizza and people in the area can bring you back home to, it was family, pizza, Friday nights, Saturday nights…hot pizza friends….nostalgia! DiCarlos Original was take out only. We hung out in the parking lot as teens. Are pizza, congregated, etc…nostalgia! Unhinged maybe but I won’t out down some or something if I haven’t tried it. And I Love my family and friends…..and DiCarlo’s Original I love in NC now. Have driven 7.5 hrs for visit and pizza. Thank God for WHOMEVER opened franchise in Myrtle Beach, that’s only 4.5 hrs. Passing thru Hiliard Ohio above Columbus, scheduled to hit at opening time 1030am to purchase 60 slices for a visit to Michigan. It was half baked, sauce cheese and pepperoni on the side. Reheat slices at 450′ just until steam starts add sauce some cheese leave in oven for 5 more mins, remove and place in box, add cheese and pepperoni out kid on box and wait a few. Then kick back and enjoy! Nostalgia! Thank you to the DiCarlos family…..

  18. Zontini’s makes square pizza and IT IS DELICIOUS! The first pizza in years that I have found around the Valley that I would even consider ordering up against the greatness of DeFelice Bros.

  19. Quad city style pizza is the best you stupid liberal Clinton loving moron I don’t understand how you couldn’t love it. You are aenis to society. Go to fields of pizza in Moline, then tell me quad city style pizza is gross

  20. You are so off with Ohio valley style pizza. The sauce is more than stewed tomatoes (utilizes small amount of green pepper). The topping, while “cold” actually warm upon contact with the steaming pizza. This allows the toppings to retain their independence in the flavor profile. With crunchy crust and soft (but not chewy dough) I assure you this is a great style of pizza rooted in a wonderful tradition. If you hit up the right shop (dicarlos) you are in for a real treat. This is far from the lunchable disaster you described. I’m not sure how you gathered your information for this article but you are WAY off base.

  21. I am so happy to see the huge amount of kick back on your Blasphemous comments about Valley style pizza particularly DiCarlos original! It is the best in my opinion! Not to take away from anyone else’s pizza because I love it all! But I’ve been to Italy and Malta and it’s the closest thing to their piece of there is! When I go back to the valley to to visit the first thing I do is get DiCarlos people I even see anybody my favorite is Wheeling West Virginia store I grew up in Wellsburg all of them are a little different than one another but they are all equally delicious makes a good breakfast right out of the fridgerator!

  22. Cleveland isn’t part of the Ohio Valley, genius. Cleveland has a style all their own.

  23. Pingback: The World’s Saddest Cuisines: Estonia | America Fun Fact of the Day

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