Monday, February 9, 2015

Imo's Pizza

Before we get started, a little update on last week's post for Cafe Arnold/Local House.
We were searching for/craving fish tacos. The newly sold/bought place didn't have them. Angel is nothing if not tenacious, she still wanted a fish taco.
This Saturday morning I drove to Hardee's to try their new Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich. In the drive through I noticed that they had fish tacos on the menu. I mentioned this to my lovely wife when I got home.
We'd already decided about the evening meal, but she didn't let a little thing like that distract her. So as she was picking up the pizza, she detoured through the drive through at Hardee's and picked up an order of four.
Before we started wolfing down pizza, we each had a Taco. I was pleasantly impressed. For a fast food offering, these tasted rather fresh and dare I say, light. The tortilla was soft and pliable, the lettuce, crisp and the fish, though battered and fried, was not at all greasy. There was a hint of spicy hotness in the tiny dribble of sauce, but it was only in one bite. There was more tortilla than necessary, so like with pizza crust, I ate out the center and tossed the rest away. We both agreed that these tasted okay, maybe a bit too thickly breaded, and the assembly seemed rushed. Not as good as those we had at the now defunct Cafe Arnold, not as good as Angel remembered the Hardee's previous version, but doable. There will be more.

Imo's Pizza
#1 Jefferson Square
DeSoto, Mo.
Web Site

There is an Imo's in Hillsboro. I knew that. In the eight and a half years we've lived here and the five years we've been reviewing eateries, I've never had a pizza from that place. That was deliberate.
Many years ago, back when we lived in/around Springfield Mo. I was a member of a political third party, ran for state representative twice and served as Chairman of the Greene County Libertarian Party for a year. We were not a large group and certainly not formal or wealthy, so we met at the pizzeria owned by the family of one of our members, an Imo's Pizza.
Usually by the time I got to the meeting someone else had already ordered a pie. I nibbled at it, but not
much. I didn't care for that trading card thin crust. For being so thin, you'd think it would be crunchy, it wasn't, it was kind of tough, like cardboard. I didn't much care for the cheese and sauce combination either. Too sweet. This was my first brush with what I now know to be St. Louis style pizza.
So when Angel suggested this, I was gobsmacked.
"They have a thicker crust option."
I thought about that. No, I didn't know they had a thicker crust option. I thought further. What other options were I not aware of? It occurred to me that I'd never actually ordered an Imo's pizza. Someone else always did. Sure, why not, hadn't had pizza in a while.
The Place:
Somewhere in DeSoto, I'm not sure exactly, because I didn't go. They offer dining in, but I like pizza at home, in my recliner, with good tea. I made the tea myself. Angel logged in to the Imo's web site and tapped in an order, one for us, one for Adam. We simply do not like the same toppings. He did go for the thicker crust as well though.
Angel made the drive, she wanted to swing by a farm supply store, dog stuff, and Hardees anyhow, for the aforementioned fish tacos. Sure, I'll make some tea and work on my other blog.
I had my headphones on, listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, because, deep down, I really like that sort of thing, even though I risk sounding snobbish whenever I mention it.
If you aren't from Missouri, you've probably never heard of Imo's but around here they are an institution. St. Louis has had a vibrant Italian population since Columbus first invented America in 1776 and decimated the indigenous population with biological warfare. Or something, I'm not feeling very research-y today. Anyway a lot of Italian families settled in St. Louis and it seems, even today, that every one of those families had/has a restaurant. There are some really, really good Italian joints around. Ed and Margie Imo were living in St. Louis in 1964 and thought it would be really neat if someone would bring a pizza to them rather than trekking out past midnight on Friday nights to get a meat-laden pizza. (A Catholic, no meat on Friday, thing.)
Though pizza made its way to popularity in the U.S. after WWII, nearly all of it was dine in or takeout. Pizza delivery as a regular option didn't start up until around 1961, as best as anyone knows, starting with DomiNick's (Later Domino's) in Michigan. (They originally delivered in a VW Beetle). Okay, I am feeling a little research-y.
So Ed and Margie opened up a place of their own, near their home on 'The Hill' and started delivering pies around the city in 1964. The idea caught on and they started expanding around the Gateway City soon after the iconic Gateway Arch was erected. To date there are ninety locations, mostly in metro St. Louis, with several sprinkled around the Show-Me State including Kansas City and Springfield.
The Food:
Angel had ordered two pies, for us a 'Deluxe' with sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, bacon, and their signature Provel cheese.
Adam's was an 'All-Meat' with sausage, Canadian bacon, pepperoni and bacon.
They also picked up an order of boneless wings with a Ranch dipping sauce. I don't know what the deal s
with Ranch dressing. I've been to a ranch, a real ranch. I don't want anything that might taste like those places smell. What is wrong with you people?
Besides, I don't like wings the way they are made in sports bars and pizzerias. Too spicy.
After we tried the fish tacos, we popped open the boxes. Adam took several 'wings'. Hell, they didn't look a thing like wings. They were bright orange balls. Angel liked them, they agreed they were pretty good. Angel kept trying to push them on me, or maybe she just liked saying "Dennis, wouldn't you love to taste some spicy balls? They're pretty good!" I had all sorts of witty replies prepared but I can't share them here since this is an open minded and family-friendly review.
They agreed that though they were quite good, they weren't worth the $8.95 price. Yeah, that's a picture of nine dollars worth of chicken. Imo's is quite proud of their sticky, spicy balls.
The pizzas did look more 'normal.' Not as thick as Pizza Hut's hand-tossed, but certainly better than the Imo's thin crust. The toppings were spread out and plentiful. The bacon worried me, it was full slices. The pizzas were cut into squares, which leaves tiny orphans on a round pizza. It's a St. Louis thing.
My worries abut the bacon acting as a rip cord pulling off most of the toppings with it, were unfounded. The bacon was sliced so thin that it broke easily with every bite. For that thinness though, the bacon taste didn't really stand out. The sausage was nice and spicy, it balanced out the sweetness of the sauce and cheese.
Adam's was indeed, all meat and lots of it. Big slices of it. It looked pretty good, but I like a little veg on my pizza.
I was happier with the thicker crust, though it seemed to be a little tougher than Pizza Hut's. Later, when I reheated some, just enough to make it warm, the crust toughened up even more. By morning it was worse, even Rudy had some trouble chewing it. Not that I feed pizza crust to dogs, that would be wrong.
We discussed it with open minds, each one of us wanted to say something good about it. Adam said that St. Louis style just wasn't his thing. I was happy that it was better than I had expected. None of us rated it higher than Pizza Hut.
Kind of a pricey meal, those precious non-wings set us back nine bucks on their own. The whole bill came to forty six dollars and change. It only barely covered two meals apiece though, the pies weren't that big.
It was okay, not nearly as bad as I'd expected, but unfortunately that's about all I can say. As long as there are other options, I can't come up with a reason to prefer Imo's to anything else.
At least we tried.

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