Q: What is Provel cheese?
A: Provel cheese is a processed blend of different cheeses that is extremely popular in the St. Louis area. Provel tastes like a mix of Swiss, cheddar, and provolone cheeses and melts extremely well in the oven. Some say that Provel got its name from a portmanteau of “provolone” or “mozzarella,” but the person who filed the trademark for the cheese way back in 1947 claimed that it was just an “arbitrarily coined word.”
Q: Can I get a St. Louis-style pizza with mozzarella instead of Provel?
A: Absolutely! Although Provel is the most popular cheese for St. Louis-style pizza, local shops tend to offer a wide array of cheeses, including mozzarella and cheddar.
Q: Who invented St. Louis-style pizza?
A: Amedeo Fiore is credited as being the first person to bring pizza to St. Louis roughly 80 years ago, but the St. Louis-style pizza we love today can be traced back to Luca “Luigi” Meglio, who operated Luigi’s Restaurant in 1953. St. Louis historians say that Luigi’s was the first restaurant to top pizzas with Provel cheese, which makes him the true godfather of St. Louis-style pizza. Meglio closed up shop in 1981, but St. Louis-style pizza continues to thrive and grow in popularity today.
Q: Why is St. Louis-style pizza cut into tiles or squares?
A: Ed Imo, who established the famed Imo’s Pizza chain, was reportedly a tile-layer before he became a restauranteur. According to legend, Imo started the craze of slicing St. Louis-style pizza into tiles, perhaps as an homage to his original craft. In accordance with tradition, St. Louis-style pizza is still cut into tiles today. It’s also easier to handle square slices of this ultra-cheesy pizza, particularly when you have a drink in your other hand.