Ohio Valley Pizza – Interesting Facts About Ohio Valley Pizza

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There has been a heated argument, probably not once, on the best and the worst geographical pizza.

Ohio valley style pizza, also called Steubenville-style pizza, appears on the worst topographical pizza more often than not.

But again, spots such as DiCarlo’s that sell this pizza keep growing, meaning the Ohio Valley-style pizza is getting more popular by the day.

Some claim it is the best pizza on earth. So what is it about this pizza that other Americans hate so much, yet people from Ohio Valley cannot keep away from it?

You may be interested in some other style of pizza below.

Description of Ohio Valley-style pizza

Ohio valley style pizza is a rare kind of dish that gets served cold. It is mostly found in Steubenville and in other towns that are next to the Ohio River Valley.

You put a layer of fresh tomato sauce on your pizza dough. Then sprinkle grated cheese on the pizza. You can add uncooked toppings too.

Roasted vegetable sheet pan pizza

Finally, you put this pizza into the oven. After baking, that is when you add either cold grated provolone cheese or mozzarella cheese. This brings about the contrasting yet striking hot, cold taste with each bite.

To enjoy the full flavor of the Ohio valley pizza, devour it. The chilled cheese starts to liquefy immediately because of the hot crust. That is not what you want.

It could become quite messy. If left for too long, the whole pizza will get cold, and you will end up with just a cold pizza. Nothing is interesting about that either.

It is best to eat this pizza when it in the pizzeria instead of having it delivered at home. This is because having it delivered will result in the cold cheese melting before you have it.

Unique characteristics of Ohio Valley-style pizza.

This pizza is unique. Unlike other pizza types, to make the Ohio Valley-style pizza, you have to involve two main processes.

First, it is baked in a pan and then topped with cold provolone cheese, sauce, and some toppings. You can use Mozzarella cheese instead of provolone if you want.

What differentiates the Ohio valley pizza from other pizza styles is how the pizzerias serve it, the shape, the toppings, the cheese used, the sauce, the crust, and how fast you have to eat it.

Square shape

Ohio Valley-style pizza is made into a square shape using a square pan then cut into square slices. It is wise to order pizza per individual, not the usual whole pizza. This is to stop the cold cheese from melting.

Sheet pan pizza

When you get to a restaurant serving Ohio Valley-style pizza, you will first order according to the number of squares you want. Then later, you will tell the chef what you want for your toppings.

Served hot and cold

You receive the pizza covered with a thick layer of cold, grated provolone or mozzarella cheese. Please do not be mistaken; the pizza itself is hot.

Minimum cheese is put on the pizza just after the sauce, before baking. Then you add your uncooked toppings.

You finally put it in the oven. After the pizza is ready, the chef adds a pile of frozen mozzarella cheese on top. This means when you take a bite, every bite is both sizzling and chilly. Delicious!

Some add provolone cheese on top instead of mozzarella cheese. It has a richer taste than mozzarella.

The sauce

Ever wondered why the Ohio Valley-style slice has a distinct mouth-watering flavor? This is because of the tomato sauce. It uses the long and thin tomatoes from Italy known as San Marzano.

To the source, you add oregano, chopped basil, onion. Then you add olive oil to make the mixture softer. Then add green peppers.

Thicken Pizza Sauce

This gives the sauce a sweet, spicy taste. If you want intense flavors, then add garlic to the sauce. Whether you add powdered garlic or fresh cloves, it is up to you.

If you find the sauce sour, you can add sugar. Be careful not to overdo it. Finally, add pepper and salt. Mix well to get your sauce.

Once the ingredients are well mixed, heat the mixture. Please let it heat until it boils, then simmer for four hours to bring out the intense taste of the sauce found in Ohio Valley-style pizza.

The toppings

A traditional Ohio Valley-style pizza has most toppings added after baking the pizza. The mixture of the cold contents and the hot is what brings out the best in Ohio valley style pizza.

You add the uncooked toppings to the pizza before baking. However, the rest of the toppings come after baking.  

Some places like DiCarlo’s add cold pepperoni after baking, just on top of the cold grated mozzarella cheese.

There is no limit to the number or type of toppings you can put on this pizza. Most people use mushrooms, sausages, bacon, olives, and pepperoni.

Because toppings come after baking, and the chef divides a whole pizza into pieces, you can customize your order.

Pizza toppings are versatile, check the articles below to know more.

The crust

The crust is somewhere between a deep dish and a thin crust.  It is light, feathery, and airy, just like focaccia bread.

It rises significantly, forming a thick crust. The Ohio Valley-style crust has a crunchy base.

Origin of Ohio Valley Pizza

Pizza dish was introduced to Steubenville around the same time as the rest of the United States. This was in the early 1900s.

One family headed by Michael and Caroline DiCarlo ran a convenience store in Steubenville, Ohio. They made bread in this store. After some time, they decided to focus on the bakery only.

In 1940, Primo, DiCarlo’s oldest son, was from World War II. He narrated to his parents about the pizzas he ate while in Italy. This was when the Ohio Valley-style pizza was born.

Being an entrepreneurial family, they thought that this crispy flatbread with sauce and cheese would be suitable for business.

DiCarlo and his wife gave it a try. They used their bread recipe and created the popular Ohio Valley-style pizza recipe.

Everyone loved it hence the birth of this delicacy.

In 1945, Primo opened a pizzeria in Steubenville. Together with his brother, Galdo, he later opened another pizzeria in West Virginia in 1949.

Want to learn how to make the perfect pizza at home? Check the articles below.

Where to get Ohio Valley-style pizza.

Ohio-valley-style pizza is served all over the United States today. Many people travel for hours just to have a taste of this controversial pizza to give their verdict.

However, with time, many pizzerias have had their Ohio Valley-style pizza recipes evolve. Very few places still use the traditional recipe, DiCarlo’s being one of them.

DiCarlo’s Pizza

If you visited Ohio Valley and asked the locals where to eat, they would all vouch for DiCarlo’s pizza. What is it about this spot that has got people born in the Ohio Valley so loyal to DiCarlo’s?

It is everything about DiCarlo’s. First, their pizza has a bronzed crunchy crust despite it being thick. It is also light and airy.

With their unique tasting sauce, the Ohio Valley-style pizza has got to be the best ever created. Additionally, the pizza is very affordable.

Major spots for DiCarlo’s are in Pittsburgh, Wheeling, and Steubenville.

The locals fancy the regular pepperoni, provolone cheese, and tomato sauce only pizza. However, DiCarlo’s does not limit you. You can go wild and ask for any available toppings of your liking.

DiCarlo’s prepare their Ohio Valley-style pizza in at least fifteen minutes. There is usually a line of people waiting, especially during peak hours.

Additionally, some pizza lovers drive for hours to DiCarlo’s to taste this pizza. Therefore, it would be best if you visited quite early.

Ohio Pie Co.

Ohio Pie Co. is one of the major establishments where you can find Ohio-style pizza. They concentrate on only this style of pizza with a distinctive twist.

Aaron Sechrist and Nick Robson own this establishment that stands along Pearl Road in Brunswick.

There Ohio style pizza has a mid-thick, crispy crust and cheese that spreads to the edges. Then they add a spiral of sweet homemade red sauce. Then the rings of garlic sauce come next.

When you visit Ohio Pie Co., you will be tempted to try the pepperoni toppings, which are simply delicious.

But it would be even better if you tried other toppings too in their wide range of toppings. You can try the Basic B, a white pie, or the Biodome if all you want is vegetables.

If you want something that you have never tasted before, then Parky’s Burger pie is their incredible pie. But this pie sells fast, so be sure to get there early.

They also serve the Brunch Pies. These branch pies are characterized by the white sauce and “everything” crust.

They offer ‘sit and dine’ as well as takeout and delivery services.

Pizza Primo

Pizza primo is a restaurant that is in Columbus, Ohio. Eric Rummel, a delivery driver from Clintonville, was the founder of Pizza primo.

He founded this pizza business in 1993, which is the Worthington location today. They now have a second location in Clintonville.

Pizza Primo boasts of fresh and delightful crusts due to their fresh pizza dough that they make every day in their kitchen.

Considering the Ohio style requirements, they make their homemade sauce that has made many customers return.

Pizza primo serves other kinds of dishes apart from pizza, including wings, salad, spaghetti, calzones, and subs.

The thing that stands out most about Pizza primo is the service. They have dietary options for people with special requirements.

They serve gluten-free crusts and have vegetarian options for vegetarians.

Pizza Primo also has loyalty programs for their loyal customers. You receive a loyalty card that allows you to earn points every time you visit. You can later redeem the points and get your free Ohio Valley-style pizza or other dishes.

Pizza Primo is a worthy place to visit. From their delicious Ohio style pizza crusts to their fantastic customer service, you need to check it out the next time you are in Columbus.

FAQ for Ohio valley pizza

There are so many questions asked about the Ohio Valley-style pizza. They include:

Why is the pizza served in individual servings?

This pizza is served per individual because you have to devour it. This will help avoid the mess created when the frozen cheese at the top melts.

Secondly, it is advantageous to the customer since you can easily sample different Ohio Valley pizza flavors available in a restaurant.

It also allows for different family members or friends to choose the toppings they deem best for them.

Why put the cold cheese on top?

It is hard to say why Ohio Valley-style pizza has cheese on top. However, there is a theory that it is because of the thick baking pans used in the past.

The crust would last longer when baked—putting on the cheese before baking led to the cheese burning.

This is the same reason why in Chicago style pizza, people put the cheese under the sauce.

Over time the cold cheese became Ohio valley style pizza’s signature. It is a bonus, as you do not risk burning your pallet with molten cheese.

Why is Ohio Valley-style pizza called a poor man’s cheesecake?

When DiCarlo’s started serving the Ohio Valley-style pizza, most of the people who tasted it found it to be delicious.

It was also relatively cheap. This led them to call it the ‘poor man’s cheesecake.’ The name stuck.


If you are a pizza lover and would love to try some unique pizza, then you should reconsider Ohio Valley-style pizza.

The first bite might be strange and striking. But as you keep eating, you will find the pie more and more irresistible.

Some critics hate the idea of adding cold toppings, while for some, this is heavenly. If you do not like the cold cheese, you can request your cheese to be added before baking, but that would not be an Ohio Valley-style pizza.

Are you one of those who would enjoy the Ohio valley style pizza? Give it a try and find out.

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