Altoona-style pizza may be the most talked-about Pennsylvania culinary invention in the history of social media!
It’s become such a phenomenon that the local minor league baseball team, the Altoona Curve, renamed themselves the Altoona Pizzas as part of a week-long promotion in August 2023.
Much of the credit for the continued popularity/notoriety of Altoona-style pizza goes to Steve Corklic, owner of 29th Street Pizza Subs & More and flag-bearer for this Blair County delicacy.
Recently I had a chance to stop in at Steve’s establishment in Altoona, determined to render my own verdict on this thick-crusted internet sensation.
I brought along my friend Jeremy to render a second opinion, a former pizza shop owner himself.
Together we shared a few slices of Altoona-style pizza during the busy lunch rush at 29th Street Pizza Subs & More, then shared some great conversation with Steve.
The Origins of Altoona-Style Pizza
Altoona-style pizza originated from the Altoona Hotel in the 1950s, and grew in popularity until the hotel was destroyed by a fire in 2013.
Also known as Altoona Hotel Pizza or Altoona Sicilian Pizza, several local establishments stepped in to fill the void, bringing their own versions of Altoona-style pizza to life.
Altoona-style pizza is a variation on Sicilian pizza, featuring a thick, spongy crust and rectangular shape, similar to focaccia bread.
On top of the dough goes a layer of tomato sauce, then a slice of deli-style salami, then a sliced green bell pepper ring, and finally the topper (and most controversial ingredient) – a slice of processed yellow American cheese!
Altoona-style pizza remined me of an open-faced sandwich, and is served with a knife and fork in a similar fashion.
The Verdict on Altoona-Style Pizza
I thought the Altoona-style pizza was delicious; Jeremy, being more of a purist when it comes to pizza, thought it would have been better with traditional mozzarella cheese.
One thing we both agreed on was the atmosphere inside 29th Street Pizza was fantastic.
Once the home of Guido’s Barber Shop, 29th Street Pizza is the quintessential western PA neighborhood joint, replete with Steelers/Pirates memorabilia and vintage photos of Altoona.
While perhaps best known for Altona-style pizza, 29th Street Pizza Subs & More has an extensive menu.
They also serve your classic PA “side dishes”, including Middleswarth and Utz chips, as well as Galliker’s iced tea.
When we got there right around noon, the place was packed with diners and people picking up take-out orders, and judging from the back-and-forth banter everyone knew Steve and Steve knew everyone!
So ultimately whether or not you find Altoona-style pizza to your liking or not, you’d be hard-pressed not to find SOMETHING on the menu to enjoy at 29th Street Pizza, Subs & More – Jeremy and I are already planning a return visit to tackle the “Attaboy” stromboli!
29th Street Pizza Subs & More is located at the corner of 29th Street and 5th Avenue in Altoona.
The Altoona Curve Become the Altoona Pizzas
Watching an article I’d written help spawn a Minor League Baseball promotion was a bit surreal, but I thoroughly enjoyed how it all play out.
The normal Altoona Curve gameday program became the “Pizza Menu”.
The mascot created for the Altoona Pizza resembled the square slice topped with yellow cheese that is synonymous with Altoona-style pizza; one could also argue it looked like an angry version of Sponge Bob SquarePants.
One of the personal highlights of the Altoona Pizzas game I attended was watching the announcer read some of the disparaging comments people had left on social media about my Altoona-style pizza article!
Love it or hate, but the power of Altoona-style pizza has spread beyond the kitchen and into the realm of professional baseball!
The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in Blair County celebrates the lives of both railroad workers and railroading communities in central Pennsylvania.
Unlike many “train museums” that focus primarily on engines and cars, the Railroaders Memorial Museum focuses primarily on the men and women who kept the engines running and the cars rolling.
The Horseshoe Curve in near Altoona was considered one of the “engineering wonders of the world” at the time of its completion in 1854.
This 2,375 foot-long curved stretch of railroad tracks allowed trains to conquer the Allegheny Mountains for the first time, by permitting a more gradual ascent/descent of those mountains.
Today the Horseshoe Curve has both a museum/visitor center, as well as a viewing area to watch trains round the Curve itself.
Chimney Rocks Park near Hollidaysburg in Blair County is home to 3 impressive scenic overlooks in a beautiful borough park setting.
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park near Altoona has been a central PA tradition for more than 100 years!
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park offers free parking, free admission, and over 30 rides, with something for everyone from little kids to adults.
16 Must-See Attractions in Blair County is your guide to even more great things to see and do near Altoona.
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