Does Louisville pizza have a style? 
Pizza makers have their say

This article is part of a package of stories called “In Search Of Louisville Style Pizza.” For more, go here. 

What is it about Louisville and pizza? We are home to two major chains, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut. We are even headquarters for the trade journal Pizza Today. If you sort city inspection records for “pizza” and “pizzerias,” you get almost 40 independent shops, excluding the big chains but not including pizza go-tos such as The Post and those in Southern Indiana and the exurbs. With such an appetite for pizza, you would think Louisville would have its own style of pizza. Some say we do. Others say we do not. And, still, others say we do, but no one outside of Louisville knows about it. For our summer Dining Issue, we are serving up a four essays and a series of Q&As on all things Louisville-area pizza.

On the hunt for the true Louisville style pizza, we queried a few long-time pizzeria owners on what they do, how they do it and, most important, whether they believe we have a distinct form of pizza in the city. Mangia!


Tony Impellizzeri’s

tipizza.com
Tony Impellizzeri, owner and chef

What style of pizza do you make?
When my restaurant was in Louisville, our traditional round pizza was  the biggest seller. Since I’ve moved to New Albany, Indiana, our Sicilian deep dish, available in three sizes, has become a big seller. It’s a pan style, the crust on the bottom is no thicker than the round pizza. The crust is formed in a rectangular pan, the sides are 2 inches tall, and the center is filled with our sauce, three layers of cheese, bottom, middle and top, and whichever toppings of choice. Our largest will weigh 14 pounds and feed seven or eight adults.

What is the Louisville style of pizza?
I really don’t think there is. Local food critics and some pizza places have tried to coin the phrase  “Louisville style pizza,”but I think outside of Louisville, it doesn’t mean too much. For example: If I were to open a pizza place in Florida, California etc., I don’t think anybody would refer to it as Louisville Pizza. If you were to open a Giordano’s or Lou Manati’s, people would recognize it as Chicago style, or a Buddy’s pizza, people would call it Detroit Pizza.  Same with New York and New Jersey. Louisville pizza just isn’t that unique, by national standards.

What is the secret to your pizza?
Attention to detail and lots and lots of labor and a staff that cares as much and is as proud of the product we put out. I still personally make all the recipes and bake all of the pizzas. I see every pizza before it goes into the oven and when it comes out. If it’s not right, I have only myself to blame. The name Tony Impellizzeri is not on the sign for ego — it’s there for accountability. If the pizza is not up to my standards, it won’t leave the kitchen. As for the labor, we still make the Italian sausage, dough, sauce and meatballs and hand dice all the vegetables and slice the ham, bacon, some of them when ordered.

Where do you eat pizza in town?
I haven’t been in another pizza restaurant or any sit-down restaurant in about nine or 10 years ago, when I was relocating. My workday starts about 10 in the morning and ends about 10 or 11 at night, seven days a week. However, my grandson loves to have pizza delivered from various places, and I sometimes get to sample when I get home. Truth be told, Domino’s doesn’t make a bad thin crust.


MozzaPi

mozzapi.com
Tom Edwards, owner and chef

What style of pizza do you make?
We have our own style of pizza. It is very different than anything else that is currently being done anywhere else. What makes it different: This is a cross between a Sicilian (pan) and a Neapolitan pizza. We use both an Italian 00 and freshly milled, soft white winter wheat. We mill this fresh flour on site with our stone mill. Only three ingredients: flour, water, salt. Overnight sourdough ferment. Fired at 932 degrees on a pan for 90 seconds, then rested. Topped and fired in a wood oven 700-900 degrees.

What is the Louisville style of pizza?
I believe a style is developed when there are regional preferences or ingredients that pizzerias adopt making it unique to the city. I like that we have so many different views on pizza in our city. While it would be cool to have a “Louisville style,” I would prefer innovation and quality.

What is the secret to your pizza?
The secret: We try very, very hard every day. We are constantly trying to make the best pie possible. This means being mindful of the process and having attention to detail.

Where do you eat pizza in town?
That is a tough one… I love pizza, so when I am eating it, it’s usually R&D I am working on. I love what Pizza LUPO, Bar vetti, The Post have going on. Any pizzeria that is respecting the craft and trying hard gets my vote for best pizza in the city.


Boombozz Craft Pizza and Taphouse

boombozz.com
Tony Palombino, owner

What style of pizza do you make?
We have several styles that we offer: New York and California gourmet.

What is the Louisville style of pizza?
I would say Louisville style is a hybrid pizza that has a semi-thick crust, spicy marinara sauce and piles of cheese and meats.

What is the secret to your pizza?
House-made ingredients including 24-hour marinated chicken and Italian Sausage

Where do you eat pizza in town?
Luigi’s.


Butchertown Pizza Hall

butchertownpizzahall.com
Allan Rosenberg, owner and chef

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What style of pizza do you make?
I make NY-style pizza. What makes ours different is the dough fermentation, and we cure our meats in house and make our sausages in house. You can also customize slices.

What is the Louisville style of pizza?
Yes, I think there is a Louisville style. I think it is Wicks, Impellizzeri’s and Clifton’s (RIP).

What is the secret to your pizza?
I think the secret is the quality of products we use and how we make our sauce and our dough.

Where do you eat pizza in town?
I like Wick’s and Coals.


Momma’s Pizza and More

mommaspizzajeff.com
Donna Stamper, co-owner

What style of pizza do you make?
We have two main styles of pizza: our traditional crust pizza and our Chicago-style deep dish. Our deep dish is as good as, or better than, the ones in Chicago from what our customers have told us.

What is the Louisville style of pizza?
I don’t think Louisville has its own style right now. If there was a Louisville style, I would say it would be a traditional style crust that is cooked crispy and has fresh local toppings to keep it to the local area.

What is the secret to your pizza?
We use fresh vegetables and premium toppings on our pizzas along with a customized sauce. We also make every pizza with love. We only prepare a pizza as if we were serving it to our family and only want the best for our family. We consider all of our customers as family.

Where do you eat pizza in town?
8th St. Pizza in New Albany is one. They sell their pizza to support their outreach program and offer food to those who cannot afford to pay and have a pay-what-you-can motto.


Bearno’s

bearnos.com
George Timmering, owner-operator

What style of pizza do you make?
Bearno’s makes a Midwestern style that we call Louisville-style pizza. Bearno’s has a delicious thin crust made fresh every day. Most places have quality toppings these days, and so does Bearno’s. Bearno’s distinguishes itself because it has a more than an ample amount of its quality toppings. Our No. 1 specialty pizza, the Mama Bearno’s, is a delicious, deluxe pizza with sausage, pepperoni, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black and green olives. Bearno’s pizza is best right out of oven in one of our dining rooms, but Bearno’s pizza delivers well, and many people love reheating their Bearno’s or even eating it cold the next day.

What is the Louisville style of pizza?
New York has thin crust. Chicago has deep dish. Because our thin crust but ample toppings makes our pizza thick, Bearno’s claims its pizza is Louisville-style pizza. Thin crust with ample toppings and fresh mozzarella cheese. Louisville has a lot of great pizza, and Bearno’s is proud and thankful to be a part of the city’s pizza heritage. Some people like thick crust. Others like thin. Serving our product since 1977 and with 14 Louisville metro area locations, Bearno’s takes a backseat to no one.

What is the secret to your pizza?
Read answers from 1 and 2, but to sum it up, freshness. Fresh, thin crust, ample quality toppings, with fresh California tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Where do you eat pizza in town?
I eat Bearno’s almost every day in the morning before lunch starts, so I do not have many chances to eat at other places. Louisville has a lot of great pizza. I have tried them all. I sometimes get delivery from one of the national chains at home when my wife and I are relaxing. I do not eat pizza publicly outside of Bearno’s anymore because of social media and opportunity for someone to take picture of me eating another local pizza and posting something negative about it. The pizza business is a hard business. I know and respect the other Louisville pizza places.


The Original Impellizzeri’s

impellizzeris.com
Greg Powell, operations manager

What style of pizza do you make?
We are known for our “Original” crust pizzas. We also make a thin crust, a Sicilian deep dish pizza and serve a gluten-free crust as well. Our “Original” crust is different than others, in that we use a heavier dough ball, which leads to a more substantial crust; This is needed because we top the “Original” crust pizzas with two layers of toppings and cheeses.

What is the Louisville style of pizza?
We think of “Louisville style” as what I described above. A thicker, more substantial crust that will hold two layers of our cheeses and toppings.

What is the secret to your pizza?
We get asked that question a lot, and our answer is simple. We make our dough from scratch daily. We make the vast majority of our items in house daily, using great ingredients. Many of the recipes are Impellizzeri family recipes. We follow the recipes carefully. The result: a family-style restaurant that’s been serving Louisville for 40 years.

Where do you eat pizza in town?
I have to say… that I really don’t eat pizza outside of the restaurant. •

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