National Pizza Day!

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Happy National Pizza Day! Some pizza memories…

When I was a kid we got carryout from Pasquale’s in the Norwood section of Birmingham. One night when I was 9 or so, my dad let me go in and order and pay and bring the pizza to the car. In those days, Pasquale’s put the pizza in a paper bag to be carried home horizontally. I, however, carried it vertically.

The pizza toppings all slid to the bottom of the bag into a greasy lump. Happily, my dad only chuckled at my mistake and the pizza was easily repaired when we got home.

My first gig after college was at KSTT radio in Davenport, Iowa. We had a station basketball team that would face off against area high school faculties. After each game, we would go to Pizza Hut where we had trade and would order lots of pizza and beer. I pigged out often on Pizza Supreme and Budweiser. Good times!

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I became a fan of deep-dish pizza when visiting Chicago in the 70s. In the 80s, Chicago deep-dish joint Pizzeria Uno went national. I enjoyed their pizzas in Philly and Dallas and later in St. Louis. Nowadays, my favorite deep-dish pizza comes from St. Louis’s own Pi Pizza. (Love Pi’s cornbread crust, too!)

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When we moved to St. Louis in 1988, a neighbor sent over an Imo’s pizza as a welcoming gift. I recall we were all curious—especially my son Mark—about this thin crust pizza with the strange tasting cheese.

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In time, we came to embrace Imo’s and Mark went on the cook and deliver for them. He worked at a number of pizza joints around Ballwin and learned every subdivision shortcut and cut-thru in west county.

He excelled at “hot selling.” If a pizza joint had no lunchtime orders, he would cook a few pizzas and drop by area businesses such as banks or car dealers. He’d say, “Hey, we made too many pizzas today. Would you guys like to buy a couple? Five bucks apiece!” Sold.

When I was a country DJ at WIL, I learned that singer Vince Gill was a huge Imo’s fan. He makes a habit of delivering an Imo’s shoutout from stage anytime he performs in St. Louis. Around 1994 or so, I took him and his band and crew several Imo’s pizzas when he was performing at Six Flags. His gratitude was overwhelming.

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In the early aughts, I saw a Travel Channel show about Best Places In the U.S. To Pig Out. Among the suggestions was Poynter’s Pizza in Richmond Heights with their enormous Poyntersaurus pizza. There’s an eating challenge connected to the Poyntersaurus—if two people can finish it in thirty minutes without bathroom visits, the pizza is free. We talked about them on WIL and—voila!—they dropped off a Poyntersaurus. Although I’d never try the challenge, I can attest that their pizza is good.

A few years later when I was doing the morning show at KLOU, my producer Aaron and I were chatting casually about favorite pizzas and the phone lines lit up. I learned then the level of passion that people have for pizza. Of course the Imo’s lovers chimed in, but many other independent local pizza joints were also mentioned including Pantera’s, Fortel’s, Elicia’s and Black Thorn Pub.

In 2012, I had my first visit to Slice in Birmingham and had their Soul Pie (pictured below), which is topped with turnip greens, black-eyed peas, Conecuh sausage, red onion, bacon and pepper jack and cheddar cheeses. Not for everyone, but I love it.

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In 2013, I took my grandkids to PW Pizza on Chouteau. It immediately became their favorite and is a go-to spot whenever I take them out to lunch or dinner. I like the Pulled Piggy pizza (shown below) with pork, sweet BBQ sauce and slaw. A great beer selection at PW, too! (Named for owners Paul and Wendy Hamilton.)

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I have long thought that pizza joints should jump into the breakfast market but that hasn’t happened. Although last night’s pizza leftovers continue to be a breakfast staple for many. Remember when ESPN-2 had a morning show called Cold Pizza? QuikTrip markets introduced breakfast pizza a couple of years back and it’s decent.

Pizza love continues to grow around St. Louis with numerous new joints popping up everywhere, especially over the last five years or so. It’s understandable. People like pizza. And the raw material costs versus the menu prices can be favorable to operators. Plus, all the new pizza ideas keep the pizza world ever evolving.

My National Pizza Day suggestion: Avoid the “commodity level” pizza as much as you can. Enjoy the good stuff.

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Sample QuikTrip’s Breakfast Pizza

Leftover pizza is a classic breakfast food. Though often found in same cardboard package it came in the night before, it can provide you with that needed morning fuel, even if it is a bit stale.

You may have wondered why nobody offers a breakfast pizza, made fresh each morning. Well, now, Quiktrip does just that. They’ve had decent grab’n’go food for years. Recently they introduced their QT Kitchens in many of their locations, with a variety of foods prepared to order from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Click HERE for a post from last summer that can tell you more.)

Slice of QuikTrip Breakfast Pizza

And now, QT has breakfast pizza with egg, sausage, bacon and cheese. Cost is $2.99 per slice or $5 for 2.

Watch this video for more info:

And here is the sampling schedule for free tastings of QT’s Breakfast Pizza over the next few weeks. Sampling will occur at listed locations from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Monday, April 27, 2015 676 10768 W Florissant Ave
St. Louis, MO 63136
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 628 2791 Dunn Rd
St. Louis, MO 63136
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 605 10845 Lilac Ave
St. Louis, MO 63137
Thursday, April 30, 2015 688 3120 Nameoki Rd
Granite City, IL 62040
Friday, May 01, 2015 694 2490 Troy Rd
Edwardsville, IL 62025
Monday, May 04, 2015 639 11802 Lusher Road
St. Louis, MO 63138
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 698 2809 Godfrey Rd
Godfrey, IL 62035
Wednesday, May 06, 2015 695 605 W Bethalto Dr
Bethalto, IL 62010
Thursday, May 07, 2015 670 2105 N Hwy 67
Florissant, MO 63033
Friday, May 08, 2015 627 150 Howdershell Rd
Florissant, MO 63031
Monday, May 11, 2015 686 755 S Belt W
Belleville, IL 62220
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 690 1800 Lebanon
Belleville, Illinois 62220
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 674 4435 Telegraph Rd
St Louis, Missouri 63129
Thursday, May 14, 2015 633 3475 Lemay Ferry Rd
St. Louis, MO 63125
Friday, May 15, 2015 649 6312 S Lindbergh Blvd
Green Park, MO 63123
Monday, May 18, 2015 657 1150 Feise Rd
Dardenne Prairie, MO 63368
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 619 4646 S St Peters Pkwy
St Peters, MO 63304
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 660 1500 Zumbehl Rd
St Charles, MO 63303
Thursday, May 21, 2015 673 2260 1st Capitol Dr
St Charles, MO 63301
Friday, May 22, 2015 602 1640 S 5th St
St Charles, MO 63303
Monday, May 25, 2015 659 12700 St Charles Rock Rd
Bridgeton, MO 63044
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 664 11444 St Charles Rock Rd
Bridgeton, MO 63044
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 635 10111 St Charles Rock Rd
Breckenridge Hills, MO 63114
Thursday, May 28, 2015 614 10793 Page Ave
St. Louis, MO 63132
Friday, May 29, 2015 622 11829 Lackland Road
Maryland Heights, MO 63146

Okay, one more TV spot for the breakfast pizza. This one is pretty funny!

Pizza Memories

While reading all about the world of pizza in St. Louis in the new February issue of St. Louis magazine (click HERE for link), I recalled a few personal memories of pizza.

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As a child in Birmingham, pizza was a rare treat. I recall one place put their pies into a bag to be carried horizontally. One night, my dad let me go in to the joint and pay for the pizza. Unfortunately, I carried the pizza vertically. Everything slid off the surface of the crust into one greasy pile at the bottom of the bag.

As an adult, the radio station I worked for in Davenport, Iowa, had a basketball team. We would face off against high school faculties. Then after each game, team members always went to a local Pizza Hut for pizza and beer. Good times!

After visiting a college friend in Chicago and tasting that city’s deep-dish pies, I was excited in the 80’s when Pizzaria Uno went national. They opened in Philly. I loved it but my wife did not. We moved to Dallas and my son and I had their stuff there. Shortly after we moved to St. Louis, Uno opened in the area but their product was not quite as good as I had remembered from Philly and Dallas. The chain has since closed all of its St. Louis stores.

On the day we moved into our home here in St. Louis in 1988, a neighbor sent over a pizza. After the movers left, we unpacked and were exhausted and hungry. The pizza was greatly appreciated. But when we opened the box, my son had a strange reaction. He was puzzled by the Imo’s thin crust pizza, unlike anything he’d seen before. He later became a huge Imo’s fan and actually worked at an Imo’s briefly.

In the mid 90s, I took several Imo’s pizzas to country music star Vince Gill before he was to perform at Six Flags. He was immensely grateful. Vince is a notorious Imo’s fan who never fails to give an onstage shoutout to Imo’s anytime he plays here.

Just a few years ago when I was hosting mornings on KLOU radio, my teammates and I had a quick on-air chat about our favorite pizzas then moved on to the next element of the show. Suddenly the phones went wild as listeners wanted to chime in on their favorite pizzas. It reminded me that people are passionate about pizza.

(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oxborrow/2920481239, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)