Altoona Style Pizza – You Have to See It to Believe It!

As a pizza lover, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting pizza styles to try. Recently, I came across a style of pizza that I had never heard of before: Altoona-style pizza. This pizza, which originated in the city of Altoona, Pennsylvania, has a unique set of characteristics that sets it apart from other styles of pizza.

Altoona-style pizza is made with a thick, focaccia-like crust that is rectangular in shape. The crust is then topped with tomato sauce, sliced green bell peppers, salami, and American cheese. Altoona-style pizza is cut into squares instead of wedges.

altoona style pizza
Altoona Style Pizza from The Original 29th Street Pizza, Subs and More

While Altoona-style pizza may not be as well-known as other styles of pizza, it is definitely worth trying if you are a pizza enthusiast like myself. The unique combination of flavors and textures makes it a truly special culinary experience that is not to be missed.

History of Altoona Hotel Pizza

Altoona-style pizza is a unique pizza that has its origins in the Altoona Hotel in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s or 1970s. The hotel was famous for its unique style of pizza, Altoona-style pies are made with a Sicilian-style dough and topped with a special blend of cheeses.

Although the exact recipe for the pizza is a closely guarded secret, it is known that the dough is thick and chewy, and the cheese is a blend of provolone, mozzarella, and cheddar. The pizza is typically cut into squares, rather than slices, and is often served with a side of red sauce.

Over the years, Altoona-style pizza has become a beloved local delicacy in Blair County, Pennsylvania, and has even gained national attention in recent years. Despite the destruction of the Altoona Hotel by fire in 2013, the pizza continues to be served at local restaurants throughout the area.

One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of Altoona-style pizza is its unique flavor and texture. The thick, chewy crust provides a satisfying base for the flavorful cheese blend, while the sauce adds a tangy, slightly sweet note to the overall taste.

Altoona-style pizza has also been called “yellow cheese” pizza in the past and is sometimes referred to as Altoona Hotel pizza or Altoona Sicilian pizza. Whatever you call it, one thing is for sure: Altoona-style pizza is a one-of-a-kind culinary creation that is sure to delight pizza lovers everywhere.

Altoona Style Pizza Crust

As a pizza lover, I have tried many different types of crusts. However, the Altoona Style Pizza crust is truly unique. It is a Sicilian-style crust that is thick, focaccia-like, and rectangular. The crust is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It is perfect for holding a lot of heavy toppings.

The crust is made by spreading the dough in a rectangular pan and then letting it rise. Once the dough has risen, it is baked in the oven until it is golden brown. The result is a delicious crust that is sturdy enough to hold all the toppings and cheese.

One of the things that make the Altoona Style Pizza crust unique is that it is cut into squares instead of traditional pizza slices. This allows for easier sharing and is perfect for parties and gatherings.

If you are looking to make your own Altoona Style Pizza at home, you can find many recipes online. Just make sure to use a rectangular pan and let the dough rise before baking it in the oven. And don’t forget to cut it into squares!

Altoona Style Pizza Sauce

When it comes to Altoona Style Pizza, the sauce is just as important as the toppings. The sauce used in Altoona Style Pizza is typically a tomato-based sauce, but not just any tomato sauce will do. For an authentic taste, it is recommended to use Delgrosso’s Tomato Sauce, which is native to Altoona. The sauce is traditionally applied in a thin layer, allowing the toppings to shine. However, some pizza makers may opt for a thicker layer of sauce, which can add a bit more sweetness to the pizza. Marinara sauce is another option for Altoona Style Pizza, but it is not as commonly used as tomato sauce. Marinara sauce is typically thinner and less sweet than tomato sauce, which can make it a good choice for those who prefer a less sweet pizza. When it comes to seasoning the sauce, simplicity is key. Most Altoona Style Pizza makers stick to basic seasonings like salt, pepper, and oregano. Some may also add a touch of garlic powder for extra flavor. Overall, the sauce is an important component of Altoona Style Pizza, but it is not overly complicated. A good tomato-based sauce, applied in a thin layer and seasoned with basic seasonings, is all you need to create a delicious Altoona Style Pizza.

Altoona Style Pizza Cheese

When it comes to Altoona Style Pizza, the cheese is a crucial component that sets it apart from other pizza styles. The controversial cheese used in this pizza is none other than yellow American cheese. Some people argue that Velveeta is the cheese of choice for this pizza, but most Altoona natives will tell you that American cheese is the only way to go. Yellow American cheese is a processed cheese that is made from a blend of cheeses, milk, and whey protein concentrate. It has a mild, creamy flavor and melts easily, making it the perfect cheese for pizza.

The cheese is layered on top of the pizza and melted to perfection in the oven. While some people may turn their noses up at the idea of using American cheese on pizza, it is a beloved ingredient in Altoona Style Pizza. The cheese adds a unique flavor and texture to the pizza that cannot be replicated with other cheeses. Of course, if you are not a fan of American cheese, you can always substitute it with another cheese. Mozzarella is a popular choice for pizza and would work well in an Altoona Style Pizza. However, keep in mind that it will change the flavor and texture of the pizza. In conclusion, yellow American cheese is the cheese of choice for an authentic Altoona Style Pizza. While some may argue that other cheeses can be used, American cheese is what gives this pizza its unique flavor and texture.

Altoona Style Pizza Toppings

Meat Toppings

Altoona-style pizza is known for its unique combination of toppings that give it a distinct flavor. One of the key ingredients is the peppercorn salami. This type of salami is made with black peppercorns and has a spicy, bold taste that complements the other toppings on the pizza.

In addition to the salami, some variations of Altoona-style pizza may also include other types of meat toppings such as sausage, bacon, or ham. These meats add a savory flavor and texture to the pizza.

Vegetable Toppings

Another important ingredient in Altoona-style pizza is the green bell pepper. The sliced green bell pepper is a staple topping that gives the pizza a fresh, crunchy texture and a slightly sweet taste. Some variations of the pizza may also include other vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, or tomatoes.

It’s worth noting that the use of yellow American cheese as a topping is a controversial aspect of Altoona-style pizza. While some people love the creamy, mild flavor of the cheese, others argue that it’s not a traditional pizza topping and takes away from the authenticity of the dish.

Overall, the combination of meat and vegetable toppings on Altoona-style pizza creates a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other types of pizza. Whether you’re a fan of the classic combination of salami and green bell pepper or you prefer to experiment with different toppings, there’s no denying that Altoona-style pizza is a delicious and intriguing culinary delicacy.

The Original 29th Street Pizza Pizza, Subs and More

I had the pleasure of trying 29th Street Pizza during my visit to Altoona, and I must say, it did not disappoint. This family-owned and operated pizza and sub shop has been serving up delicious food for years and has become a staple in the community. One of their specialties is, of course, the Altoona-style pizza. I ordered a classic pepperoni pizza, and it was everything I hoped it would be. The crust was thick and fluffy, and the cheese and toppings were perfectly balanced. It’s easy to see why this style of pizza has become so popular in the area.

Overall, I highly recommend giving 29th Street Pizza a try if you’re in the area. The owner was extremely friendly and we talked for a few minutes even though my pizza was ready upon arrival. Their commitment to quality and delicious food is evident in every bite.

I documented my visit to 29th St and you can check it out here:

Altoona Sicilian Pizza

As I’ve mentioned before, Altoona-style pizza is a unique culinary delicacy that originated in Pennsylvania. The pizza is cooked on a Sicilian-style dough, which makes it thicker than your average pizza. The crust is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, giving it a satisfying texture. One of the defining characteristics of Altoona-style pizza is the use of yellow American cheese instead of mozzarella. This is a controversial topic among pizza enthusiasts, but I personally find the combination of American cheese, tomato sauce, and toppings to be delicious. Speaking of toppings, Altoona Sicilian pizza is typically topped with green bell peppers and peppercorn salami. The salami adds a nice spicy kick to the pizza, while the green peppers provide a fresh, crunchy texture. If you’re a fan of Sicilian-style pizza, you’ll definitely want to give Altoona Sicilian pizza a try. The unique combination of flavors and textures make it a standout pizza that’s worth seeking out.

Altoona Style Pizza in the Media

Altoona Style Pizza has been making waves in the media in recent years. From local newspapers to national publications, this unique style of pizza has captured the attention of foodies and pizza lovers everywhere.

The Pittsburgh City Paper ran a feature on Altoona Style Pizza in 2016, highlighting the origins of the style and where to find it in the city. The article traced the history of the pizza back to the Altoona Hotel and interviewed Steve Corklic, owner of 29th Street Pizza Subs & More, one of the restaurants serving Altoona Style Pizza. The article also included mouth-watering photos of the pizza and a map showing the different locations where it can be found.

Altoona Style Pizza has also gained a following on social media, especially on Instagram. Food bloggers and pizza enthusiasts have been posting photos of the pizza with hashtags like #altoonastylepizza and #altoonapizza. Some of the most popular posts feature creative toppings like hot dogs, pierogies, and even peanut butter cups.

Despite the attention it has received, Altoona Style Pizza remains a regional specialty that is largely unknown outside of central Pennsylvania. However, with its unique crust and delicious toppings, it is sure to continue to gain fans and followers in the years to come.

Conclusion – Give It a Shot!

After trying Altoona-style pizza, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. The unique combination of ingredients and the square cut make for a delicious and satisfying pizza experience. I highly recommend giving it a try if you’re ever in the Altoona area.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all pizzerias in the area serve Altoona-style pizza, so be sure to do your research and find a place that does. Some popular options include 29th Street Pizza Subs & More and Mama Randazzo’s.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try making your own Altoona-style pizza at home. Just be sure to use a Sicilian-style dough, tomato sauce, sliced green bell pepper, and salami topped with American cheese. And don’t forget to cut it into squares!

Overall, Altoona-style pizza is a unique and delicious culinary delight that is worth trying at least once. So, next time you’re in the area, be sure to give it a shot!