• Massachusetts’ South Shore has its own bar pizza style, and locals swear by the pie even if the rest of the U.S. doesn’t know it exists.
  • Baked in weathered steel pans, this personal-sized pizza features a cracker-like crust with cheese stretched all the way to the dough’s outer edges.

Related: This unique pizza style has put Windsor, Ontario on the culinary map

Not every region of the U.S. has its own pizza style. And for the ones that do, the locals often don’t realize it’s a “pizza style.” To them, it’s just how pizza is—and should be and always has been—made.

Take, for example, the South Shore bar pizza style. Many folks in Massachusetts don’t call it that. They just call it pizza.

Like other regional styles, South Shore bar pizza originated in watering holes as a way to keep customers drinking. So, naturally, it’s not costly or time-consuming to make. But it hits the spot when the Patriots or the Red Sox are playing a close one on TV and nobody’s ready to go home. And many believe it should be more famous than it is.

According to Boston.Eater.com, South Shore bar pizza boasts a buttery, cracker-thin crust and a blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. The cheese is stretched all the way to the edges of the dough for a crispy, lacy edge. And it’s meant to be eaten by one person, thus it’s only available in a personal 10” size.

But there’s more to the style than that, says Kerry J. Byrne, a journalist and blogger focused on sports and craft brews, among other topics. The pies must be baked in a small steel pan—the older the better, Byrne writes. “The best pizza pans are old, weathered and seasoned to perfection—just like South Shore native Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame.” He adds, “Some bar pie joints have been cooking bar pizza in the same bar pizza pans for decades. Literally 40, 50 years. The pans get better with age, and the pizzas cooked in them taste better.”

Unlike the Boston.Eater article, Byrne also insists that real-deal South Shore bar pizza is made “almost exclusively with good old American cheddar—and nothing else.” But he allows that “some places might mix in mozzarella or other cheeses here and there. And some spots that get a little too big for their britches have these uppity one-off versions of bar pie with things like feta and olives—like they think they’re [expletive] California Pizza Kitchen all of a sudden.”

Related: How various flours created the world’s best-known pizza styles

Hot Box / Facebook

Boston.Eater lists a full dozen Massachusetts eateries that offer their own versions of South Shore bar pizza, including For Pizza in Medford; Hot Box in Somerville; Bardo’s Bar Pizza in South Boston; and Town Spa Pizza in Stoughton, where your pie could come topped with pickles and should be dipped in honey mustard.

Mission Pizza, located in Denton, Massachusetts, has been dishing out South Shore bar-style pies since 2020, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports. Steve North, who owns the pizzeria with his wife, Lais, describes the pie as a hybrid of the New York, Detroit and Chicago tavern-style specialties. “I’ve always thought that our style was special and unique and deserved a place among the ones that are famous around the country,” North said. “Like, everybody knows New York-style; nobody knows South Shore bar-style pizza—yet.”

But Byrne asserts that authentic South Shore bar pizza is meant to be served in bars, not restaurants. And we’re not talking fancy-pants bars with extravagant cocktail menus. “Most of these places,” Byrne writes, “are real old-school dive bars that look like somebody turned Grandma’s living room into a dingy pool parlor after she kicked the bucket.”

Food & Ingredients, Pizza News