You think you know pizza? Not till you try this weird (but delicious) twist
Imagine this: A crisp square of pizza comes out of the oven, baked piping hot with a slightly sweet and rich tomato sauce. Then, freshly grated cold provolone cheese is sprinkled on top so that it delicately melts over that oven-baked sauce and crust.
That is DiCarlo’s Pizza.
The Northern Panhandle specialty has gained cult-like status here. While the addition of cheese at the end after the pizza has already baked may seem strange to newcomers, all doubts are erased at first bite. Adding the toppings on at the end allows the fresh cheese to gently melt, rather than becoming a greasy mass, and the toppings stay fresh and full of flavor.
There are a number of DiCarlo’s Pizzas sprinkled around West Virginia, including in Parkersburg and Fairmont, but the majority are in the Upper Ohio Valley. While there may be tiny differences between each, one thing remains the same: The cold, freshly grated provolone-mozzarella cheese blend is added after the crust and sauce have baked.
DiCarlo’s was opened in 1945 by Primo DiCarlo. DiCarlo had been overseas in the military when he discovered the crispy pizza in Italian cafes, and decided to bring that back to America. His brother, Galdo, opened a second shop in Wheeling in 1949 on the corner of 14th and Main streets.
From there, the business expanded. Some shops added more products, like fresh-baked bread, sandwiches, calzones and fresh salads. But it’s that original family pizza recipe that keeps people coming back.
The medium-thick crisp dough, the delicious tomato sauce and grated cheese are stretched out into rectangular pans, made fresh with each order. You can watch the whole process while you wait eagerly, since most of the locations have open kitchens.
If you haven’t had a cut of the classic DiCarlo’s Pizza, make a quick trip to the northern part of the state to get your fix. You can get a slice for around $1, but that may not be enough. In fact, you owe it to yourself to get a whole tray. For the uninitiated, that is 16 “cuts.”
This post was last updated on July 30, 2020