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Monday, February 11, 2013

At Basso, Nationally Acclaimed Chef Patrick Connolly Pays Homage to St. Louis' Divisive Provel Cheese

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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The Basso take on Provel dates back to Connolly's time at Tucker's Place: "When I first started cooking out at Tucker's, they set out to be a St. Louis-style pizza joint -- they had one steak on the menu. When I was there, I was just a pizza cook. We did our own blend of [St. Louis] pizza cheese out there."

Provel is a proprietary blend of cheddar, swiss and provolone cheeses. At Basso, Connolly uses Prairie Breeze cheddar, Jarlsberg and what he refers to as generic "deli" provolone. The toppings likewise are an upscale take on the Imo's "Deluxe" arrangement. The pizza differs in two key respects: the crust, while thin, is certainly not cracker-thin, and the pizza as a whole is wood-fired.

Connolly says diners' reaction to the "Emo Cover Band" has surprised the Basso team: "It's our top seller. I can't tell if it's because it's got the most stuff on it, or because it strikes a chord." The latter explanation doesn't quite make sense to him, however. "You're not really reminiscing about [St. Louis-style] pizza when you're in St. Louis."

Has Connolly heard from Imo's, notoriously protective of the Provel trademark? (If you're not serving Imo's Provel, you're not serving Provel -- you're serving St. Louis pizza cheese.)

"No," he says and laughs. "It's imitation as the strongest form of flattery. I just love the flavor combination."

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