Cold Hands, Warm Slices: What is Ohio-Valley Style Pizza?

What could be better than a pizza fresh out of the oven with melty cheese and hot toppings? Some in the Ohio Valley area argue that can be topped by a pie with cold fixins.

Chill out, the pizza itself is still hot.

The square-shaped Ohio Valley-Style pie is baked in the oven, just like any other pizza. The dough goes in with a layer of sauce on top, then gets pulled from the heat midway for a second layer of sauce and a bit of cheese after it rises. The rest of the accoutrements are either chilled or at room temperature when they join the pie at the end of its journey.

The cheese and other toppings warmed up by the hot pie, allowing them to melt a bit, though not to the degree of a typical pizza. An Ohio Valley-Style pizza taken to go or delivered tends to melt a bit more thanks to the thermodynamics of the cardboard box while the toppings on a slice fresh out of the oven tend to stay closer to their original state.

How was the Ohio Valley-Style pizza created?

The Ohio Valley-Style pizza was born in 1945 when Primo DiCarlo returned home after serving in the United States army during World War II. He told his family about the wonderful pizza he had in Italy, which led to the launch of DiCarlo’s Original Pizza in Steubenville, Ohio.

Inspired by one of Italy’s most famed dishes, DiCarlo’s deviated from tradition by putting the toppings on last. The current generation of DiCarlos speculate that this was done in order to prevent the cheese from burning in the old-style thicker baking pans. Today’s pizzas are made with a thinner pan, but the recipe remains the same.

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A regional favorite

Eventually, word of the cold toppings spread like wildfire. Today, this unique pie is made by many Slice partners throughout Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, a list that includes multiple DiCarlo’s locations.

Nicknamed the “poor man’s cheesecake” in the 1940s, the Ohio Valley-Style pizza now a championed favorite of many. If you’re looking for a decidedly different slice that won’t burn the roof of your mouth, Ohio Valley-Style pizza could be the pie for you.