Last Wednesday was my 39th birthday and my younger sister hosted a little get together to celebrate. As the guest of honor I was allowed to choose the meal and I of course opted for Imo's pizza. As a former resident of the St. Louis area I grew up eating that delectable concoction of provel cheese, pepperoni and thin extremely crispy crust. My sister prepared an excellent salad to go with this delicious pie that featured assorted greans (including spinach) and a chopped olive mixture that was tasty. Imo's house dressing was available as well as a bottle from Zia's and some kind of poppy seed dressing.
My other sister finished out the meal with two homemade ice cream cakes. One of the cakes featured my favorite candy (Hershey's Fifth Avenue) and the other was loaded with Oreo cookies. Here is the kicker...all of this and I am in the midst of a diet. I have to say I fared pretty well but did go over a little on the pizza. Hey... it was my birthday!
What makes Imo's so good? It's the provel! (From wikipedia)
Provel is a white processed cheese that is popular in St. Louis, Missouri. Provel is produced with Cheddar, Swiss, and provolone. It is soft at room temperature, with a gooey and almost buttery texture, and thus has a low melting point. It is the traditional topping for St. Louis-style pizza. It is also often served on salads, chicken and the Gerber sandwich. Some restaurants go a step further and use Provel for their pasta dishes with white sauce instead of the customary fresh Italian cheese and cream. Although popular in the St. Louis area, Provel is rarely used elsewhere.
The pie I indulged in was the pepperoni and bacon which is my Imo's pizza of choice but any pie from Imo's gets it done. We also had a pepperoni and pineapple, and a pineapple with green peppers, onions and ham. Just about any pizza topping goes with yummy provel cheese. The cheese is slightly smoky with a sharp finish and just really compliments anything on a crisp unleavened pizza crust. The toppings from Imo's are top notch but frankly I could use some more of them. That's my only real knock on an Imo's pie is that sometimes they seem to be a little stingy, especially with the juicy, delicious pepperoni.
Each pie is also seasoned with a mixture of oregeno, basil and thyme. This seasoning sprinkled over the top of an already baked pizza sticks to the melted cheese and hot toppings and adds another level of flavor. I'm a big fan of this mixture and often use it on pizzas I bake in my own oven.
The Imo's sauce is used sparingly but not much is needed to be the perfect base between crust and toppings. The sauce is from an old world recipe and was developed especially for Imo's pizzas by founders Ed and Marge Imo. It has a nice flavor with a hint of basil and maybe a pinch of sugar to knock down the acidity. I think the sauce would go well pasta and garlic bread too!
I hate that I have to drive 100 miles to get one but it is well worth the trip.
If you are ever in or around St. Louis I highly suggest making time to enjoy a meal from Imo's. Get their salad with the house dressing to go with your pizza and wash it all down with some ice cold Anhueser-Busch product... you won't regret it.
SPP Ranking 9.7