by Ian Froeb
Gut Check has made our feelings about Provel, a.k.a. St. Louis pizza cheese, plenty clear over the years, but our scorn hasn't scarred our souls so deeply that we'd refuse to share news of this magnitude:
The founding editor of a food blog with a much higher profile than our little fly-by-night operation has written a rapturous review of a St. Louis-influenced, Provel-topped pie at Speedy Romeo, a restaurant in Brooklyn.
"I'm still thinking about it," writes Adam Kuban of Serious Eats and its pizza-centric offshoot Slice, "craving it, scheming to re-create it at home days after eating it. "
Now, Speedy Romeo doesn't claim to be a true St. Louis-style pie. (Speedy Romeo's owner grew up in Kansas City, apparently, but his father is from St. Louis.) The crust is thicker than our cracker, and it's cooked in a wood-burning oven. But it has Provel, the sine qua non of our fair city's culinary offering to the universe, and the cheese ("cheese") is the object of Kuban's love -- nay, lust:
I find myself agreeing with Lidia Bastianich, who refers to [Provel's] complexity and "umami of the flavors." The tanginess, smokiness, the velvety texture. As my dining buddy said, "It's almost like nachos," putting into words the nebulous analogy I had been grasping for.
Yes. Melted Provel. It is almost like nachos. Almost. Finally, something on which Provel lovers and haters can agree.
Note: Kuban's article gives a shout-out to St. Louis' own (and official Friend of Gut Check) Andrew Mark Veety for his awesome history of Provel.