One of the best things about going back home to St. Louis is the food. There are many good things to eat around Raleigh-Durham and I love living here and experiencing all of the good cuisine around here. There is just something really special about the food you grow up with though and there are always a few things that you just cannot find another places.
My favorite St. Louis food is St. Louis style pizza. I guess I could have put down Charlie Gitto's, Old El Paso Ballpark Nachos, Toasted Ravioli, or a half dozen other things. But, yes I have to do Imo's when I come back to St. Louis. The best Imos of course is the one in Webster Groves, about ten minutes from downtown St Louis, west of Interstate 44. It's located in the Old Orchard part of Webster and is just a few minutes from where I lived for a few years.
So, here's the deal with St. Louis pizza. It's on a flat crust, there is very little tomato sauce, but the star of the show is the cheese. St Louis Style Pizza uses provel cheese which is a processed concoction cheddar, swiss, and provolone cheeses. It's gummy, it's gooey, it's delicious. Honestly, people either love it or hate it. If you are curious about provel feel free to read this good NPR article on the delicious processed cheese. Now, onto Imos.
I managed two Imos visits during my week in St. Louis. My first visit was at my favorite Webster location. Let me break it down this way: The decor is red, green, or white and they have some awesome vintage Blues posters of Brendan Shanahan and Curtis Joseph on the wall. The day I went in there were two dozen preschool kids there being taught the finer points of good pizzas. Here's what I ordered:
I picked up a sausage, I like black olives on it usually, but this is still really good and also picked up a veggie pizza too. The veggie pizza is my favorite pizza off of the menu, but just ordering a pepperoni, sausage, or what ever topping combo is good too. I love the square cut to the pizza. There are a few other pizza places in St Louis that try to imitate, but Imo's has St Louis style pizza down to a science. Here's a look at a slice of the veggie....
I spent the second half of my week in Columbia, Missouri which is about two hours west of St. Louis, or half way in between St Louis and Kansas City. Columbia has their own pizza place, Shakepeare's, which is very good. It's located in downtown Columbia and is a few minutes away from the University of Missouri. It's the popular place to hang out before football games, but difficult to find a seat in on Saturdays.
The downtown Shakespeare's was really crowded for lunch the day we tried to go for lunch, so we ended up going to another location in Columbia away from campus. The pizza is basically the total opposite of Imo's. Thick, tomato sauce, and real cheese. It's pretty good.
The parents offered a little free babysitting, which I don't turn down, and had a chance for another lunch out. The Columbia Imo's is literally in the middle of nowhere, but I got to order my favorite black olive and sausage.
Interestingly enough I found out at the Columbia Imo's that there is an Imo's baseball card? How did I not land one of these cards yet? Apparently you have to order out and have a pizza delivered?
"Hello, Imo's I would like to order a pizza for delivery. Raleigh is in your delivery zone, right?"