by Chef Brad
The Soulful Journey to Tavern-style Pizza
For years, ultra-thin square-cut pizzas, particularly the Midwest's beloved "tavern-style," held little appeal to me. Despite a lifelong passion for crafting pizzas and delving into diverse pizza styles, I had overlooked this regional gem. However, recent revelations have led me to appreciate the depth and simplicity that make tavern-style pizza a true contender in the pizza world.
Reflecting on my pizza-making journey, where I founded and consulted on various pizza businesses, I confess to having sidestepped the charm of tavern-style pizza. Researching Neapolitan, New York, coal-fired, and fast-casual chain pizzas, I assumed there was no need to explore this Midwest staple further. Little did I know that I was denying my taste buds a chance to savor a unique culinary experience.
Sharing a personal anecdote about marrying a Midwest girl due to their strong family values, I realized the contradiction in not embracing the pizza she grew up with. This realization marked a turning point, leading me to appreciate both the people and the pizza of the Midwest.
Drawing parallels between identifying good people and recognizing a good pizza, I highlight the simplicity and transparency found in both. Tavern-style pizzas, with their long fermentation process, boast a visually subdued yet crispy crust, showcasing a depth of flavor unlike any other. The straightforward, earthy sauce and rich whole milk cheese pay homage to the Midwest's culinary traditions, creating a harmonious marriage of simplicity and flavor.
I've learned that loving a midwestern person or pizza is about appreciating life's simple pleasures. Tavern-style pizzas, with their unique characteristics, have found a cherished place in my heart. This newfound love has opened my mind to the understanding that, in the vast and diverse world of pizza, each style holds its own meaningful significance.