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