Some of the saddest stories concern the demise of former establishments known for their signature dishes, which are forever lost. The story of Pioneer Club Pizza is one of those, rivaling the sadness caused by the passing of my Aunt Asunta (Suzie) who took her Crescia recipe to her grave.
The Pioneer Club in uptown Jessup, PA was the local Italian Men's Club. It sponsored a little league field and team, had a bar/kitchen that served a very unique pizza every Friday and Saturday night, and, operated 24/7 the longest-running illegal-card game in Northeastern PA. My dad spent most of his evenings in the back room of the 'Club' smoking cigars and playing cards. Every Friday night, almost everyone in uptown Jessup had a tray of Pioneer Club Pizza. Our family was a regular customer, and loved the product. The Pioneer Club shut down sometime in the 1970's. Pioneer Club Pizza was a thin-crust, rectangular pizza, topped with a unique cheese combo, plenty of black pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
I despaired of ever having a taste of this pizza until my wonderful wife developed a recipe for 'St. Louis-Style' pizza, which she posted on her foodie blog. I mentioned that St. Louis pizza was very close to the Pioneer Club recipe, and, asked her to try to develop a version with a raised (yeast dough) crust, just a bit thicker than the cracker-thin St. Louis (no yeast) recipe (yet still thin, with plenty of black pepper and a bit of olive oil as the only toppings). Here is a picture of her St. Louis-Style pizza:
Jessedotsmom's rendition of Pioneer Club Pizza turned out delicious and just about how I remember it:
This pizza is one of many very-unique non-New-York-style pizzas that can be found in Northeastern PA. Some worth mentioning are Andy's Pizza in Peckville, a small, round pizza dominated by a special secret molten-cheese mixture; a rectangular thick-dough pizza from Old Forge, and; a very-thin crust round pizza with sauce on the top of the cheese from Vitalie's in Hometown (also extinct). If you can add to this list, please feel free to describe the pizza and the pizza maker. Perhaps I can talk my wife into helping you out with a recipe!
For these and all of my lovely wife's other recipes go to Jessedotsmom's Foodie Blog
For The Glory,
Joe From Boalsburg