St. Louis Battle – Pizza: Thin Crust vs. Deep Dish

19 12 2006

If you spend much time exploring the local pizza establishments in the River City you will munch your way through many of those cracker crust pizza’s loving called “St. Louis Style” thin crust. But this is not just a town of thin crust. In fact, the pizza tendencies of St. Louis’ northern suburb (Chicago, IL) has crept into the pizza scene with its deep dish delicacies. In deference to this, today Dave’s Cheap Eats will host a battle of epic proportions between St. Louis thin crust and St. Louis deep dish.Let me introduce our competitors. On the traditional St. Louis thin crust we have Talayna’s on De Balivere Ave at the Forest Park Metro stop. Sure, there are some other venerable local chains but at Dave’s Cheap Eats we seek out the local places that haven’t become bad carbon copies. On the deep dish side we have Pizzeria Della Piazza on Daggett on the Italian strong hold of The Hill.

Talayna’s has perfected the thin crust pizza, and that’s no small task. Bad thin crust can be soggy like your old elementary school food on pizza day or burnt because the pizza chief couldn’t control his fire. Mike Talayna, the owner, has overcome these difficulties to create the perfect thin crust. Now, I do need to say I have some bias here. Talayna’s was my fist thin crust experience because they brought a free sample to our table and I was bitten (or should I say, “I bit”) by the love of thin crust. For those of you that have never had a thin crust it is akin to eating a thin pizza on a giant cracker. Neither the sauce, cheese, or other toppings can be to substantial because there is no crust to hold it all in. Instead, the chef gently integrates everything so the thin layer of cheese acts as the glue. Because every ingredient is used sparingly, no single taste overwhelms you. Instead, your mouth will enjoy an intricate and airy ballet of flavors. In fact, it has a tendency to be so light that it’s not very filling so I recommend a house salad which is made perfect in the generous helping of proval cheese and a side of hot and yeasty, but not to buttery, bread knots. With these extras your bill can quickly start to be deeper than a deep dish. Take the time to scout out a half-off coupon which can be found on the back of the neighborhood grocery stores. This will turn your $12 pizza into a $6 pizza which will give you free up a few more dollars for salad and bread.

If Talayna’s thin crust is an intricate and airy ballet, then Pizzeria Della Piazza is an overweight NFL nose tackle. Where the thin crust allows flavors to dance, the deep dish at Pizzeria Della Piazza overpowers your taste buds with every bite. The deep dish has a thick crust, piles of cheese (over a pound per pizza), and is drowned in sauce. In fact it is so thick that it takes 45 minutes to cook (they recommend calling ahead if you want your own). However, if you come early during the weekday lunch hour you can snag a $5.95 special with a slice of pizza, salad, and drink without the long wait. Back to the pizza: with so much food on one pizza, it could easily become a tasteless blob of nothingness. Instead, Pizzeria Della Piazza uses sweet dough, rich cheeses, and sauce bursting with flavor in order to present a powerful pizza for your palate. In all, their deep dish creation is a sweet creation bursting with flavor.

Whether you go for thin crust at Talayna’s or deep dish at Pizzeria Della Piazza you’ll find great, and cheap, pizza-St. Louis style.

Pizzeria Della Piazza, 5100 Daggett Ave, Saint Louis, MO  63110   314-762-9100

Talayna’s http://www.freewebs.com/talaynas/index.htm Talayna's at the Park on Urbanspoon

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7 responses

20 12 2006
Doug

I grew up in New York, and I was amazed that Talayna’s makes a very good New York thin crust.

New in town, and making an excellent thin crust, is jj twigs, at 2964 Doughterty Ferry in Valley Park. They brought their recipes down from Chicago. Their prices are comparable to Imo’s.

20 12 2006
David Smith

Hey Doug, thanks for the tip. Next time I go hiking at Lone Elk I’ll have to stop by jj twigs for dinner.

17 01 2007
Teresa

Hi David:

I am the owner of JJ Twig’s. I am inviting you to our restaurant to sample not only our Thin Crust, but also Our Original Double Decker. Not your typical Deep Dish, but you have to try it to believe it.
Please ask for one of the owners when you come in or give us a call 636-225-9944. Hope to see you soon!
Teresa

17 01 2007
Mary Johns

jj twigs has a double decker to die for.

20 01 2007
Mike

I am a transplant from N.J. I’ve been in St. Louis 30 years and unfortunately I haven’t found many good pizza places in my years here. Lo and behold jj twigs opens up less than a mile from my house a few months ago. Not knowing what to expect, I took the family (all Imo’s fans, must have been adopted) there a few weeks ago. Great pizza, at last! We got both a double decker and a thin crust. Both were good but the double decker was by far my favorite. (I’ve never understood the love here for thin crust square pieces of pizza). Delicious, plenty of toppings and a light crispy crust.

I’m only afraid the word will get out too much and the wait for a table will keep getting longer. Oh well, there’s always carry out!

24 02 2007
KeenEye

There is no such thing as a good pizza if it’s not a THIN CRUST pie.

Shoot. I was buying Imo’s pizza makings online until my Husband demanded that we be able to mimic a thin crust pizza at home.

Instead, we’re opening our own pizzeria. He’ll be able to eat thin-crust pizza whenever he wants to now.

Cheers!s

29 11 2007
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