Don't Be Put Off By The Heap Of Cold Cheese On Ohio Valley Pizza

From the foldable New York slice to the Chicago deep dish, regional pizza styles have unique characteristics. With Ohio Valley-style pizza, the first glance might seem peculiar, but the uncooked toppings are key to this pizza style.

When that grandma-style pie, a rectangular pizza cut into square pieces, arrives at the table, some people might be tempted to send it back. For those who are unfamiliar, Ohio Valley-style pizza is unique because the toppings are uncooked. To be clear, the pizza base is cooked. Once the dough, topped with some red sauce and a touch of cheese, emerges from the oven, the copious amounts of mozzarella smother the pie. No re-fire, no additional heating. With all its uncooked cheesy glory, the pizza is brought to the table.

Some of the cheese does melt due to the dough's heat, but the majority of the cheese is at room temperature. In contrast, it is not cold pizza. Instead, it is a combination of temperatures that can be slightly befuddling. Although many people appreciate contrasting textures, having hot and cold food in the same bite is rare. Even if this concept does not replace that classic pepperoni slice, it is a pizza style that deserves a moment to enjoy.

Who started the Ohio Valley pizza concept?

Like many good food stories, the exact origin of Ohio Valley-style pizza can be debated. Even though Tony's Pizza in New York lays claim to putting cold cheese on a warm pie, that version is not necessarily the same. The difference between grated cheese on top and uncooked toppings is clear. The more widely accepted Ohio Valley-style pizza originator seems to be Original DiCarlo's Famous Pizza Shop in Steubenville, Ohio. Some even refer to this style of pizza as Steubenville-style.

PMQ Pizza Magazine spoke to Anna DiCarlo, the granddaughter of the shop's founders, for some history in the infamous dual-temperature pie. When asked why the pizza had cold toppings, DiCarlo admitted: "[She doesn't] know why they put the toppings on last." It could have been the thick baking pans, avoiding burnt cheese, or just because. The pizza has been served that way, and it will not change.

Today, people seek out this curious food choice, but it might not be for the cold cheese. Many guests comment that the combination of the golden crust with its signature tomato sauce is unlike any other offering. Even though other restaurants have adopted the style, the first slice might be best enjoyed from its origins.

Is Ohio Valley pizza only available in Ohio?

While some people might be willing to drive the distance to get a square of Ohio Valley-style pizza, the Buckeye State is not the only location where the cold pizza topping pizza exists.

For example, Pizza House in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, serves cold toppings on the pie, but guests must specify that cold cheese request. Otherwise, the order comes with cold pepperoni and cooked cheese.

Tino's Pizza and Restaurant in Oneonta, New York, is also known for its cold cheese. While the exact origin of that first order can be debated, the pizzeria will happily pile un-melted mozzarella on top of a slice.

Overall, this pizza concept can be found from coast to coast. From a satellite location of DiCarlo's to just asking that local joint not to cook the cheese, the concept can be enjoyed anywhere. As long as no one mistakes leftover pizza from the refrigerator for an Ohio Valley-style pizza, the pizza historians will not be offended.