Everything You Need To Know About Altoona-Style Pizza

Pizza is definitely having a moment these days. From unique toppings to new styles, 'za has taken over Instagram accounts throughout the country. But now, there is another type of bite making the rounds, both to be criticized and celebrated, and that's Altoona-style pizza.

So, what is this type of pizza and how does it stack up? According to The Takeout, this pizza comes from the Altoona Hotel, located in central Pennsylvania. The origins of this pizza aren't exactly known, but it came to be in the 1960s or 1970s, the Pittsburgh City Paper reports. Sometimes, it would be ordered at the hotel as "yellow cheese" pizza. While this out-of-the-box style of bread and cheese has been around for years, it entered into the mainstream after the Altoona Hotel burned down in 2013. To pay homage, local eateries like 29th Street Pizza, Zach's Sports Bar, and CO"BRH"s II Restaurant began experimenting and promoting their own Altoona-style pizza pies.

Pennsylvanian local John Berry recalled to the Pittsburgh City Paper that Altoona-style pizza likely originates from "somebody's grandma making off-brand pizza however the hell she wanted."

These pies, though, are not like others. While it starts with a Sicilian-style doughy crust, that's just about where things stay traditional. Salami, tomato sauce, green bell pepper (still shaped in a ring), and American cheese adorn this creation.

What makes Altoona style different?

While Altoona-style pizza is way different from other pie offerings to begin with, it all starts with a Sicilian crust. According to King Arthur Baking Company, this is a thick, foccacia-like, and rectangular crust that can hold a lot of heavy toppings. The cheese is usually Velveeta or an American slice that covers each rectangle — far different than the consistent mozzarella. The specialty pizza now comes with a variety of different ingredients depending on what part of the area you get it from. Some Altoona restaurants now serve it the traditional way, while others now add peppercorns or Genoa salami. Mushrooms, different meat styles, and veggies bring additional layers of flavor and texture to this salty, savory meal.

However, while some people are experimental eaters and others see it as a regional delicacy and respect it as such, the pizza seems to have mixed reviews. Those interviewed by Pittsburgh City Paper ranged from calling the food "legendary," and "not that bad," to "unique and truly memorable." Either way, Altoona-style pizza is buzzing now, thanks to viral social media posts (via Twitter) and the growing network of food-curious people out there. 

Not heading to Altoona any time soon? There are YouTube video tutorials, which give you step-by-step instructions on how to make this small-town delicacy at home. 

Altoona-style pizza divided the internet

The internet's reaction to Altoona-style pizza has been seriously mixed. One writer on Barstool Sports called this dish an "absolute abomination," while another writer from Barstool Sports says, "Honest-to-God [it] wasn't that bad ... The weirdest part wasn't even the American cheese slice on top. It was the hidden slice of salami underneath. But complemented by the green pepper it was actually a nice touch." Some people were curious about the pizza and others were completely shocked that this regional delicacy existed. 

"I found out about Altoona style pizza tonight, its pizza with Salami, Green Peppers and a slice of Yellow American Cheese," says Twitter user @ColiverXYZ. While another user said that after seeing the pizza, they would never speak ill of Chicago-style pizza again. But, there is a thread on Reddit that actually has people searching for the pizza to try and others giving recommendations on who has "awesome" Altoona-style pizza.

So, whether it looks good to you or maybe you'll pass on this trend, keeping an open mind is seemingly your best bet when it comes to the regional 'za of Altoona.