Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Pictou County Pizza: A Nova Scotian Specialty

I've easily visited Nova Scotia over a dozen times, but it wasn't until my most recent visit that I experienced Pictou County Pizza for the first time. This is a regional pizza style that originated in Pictou County during the 1960s. The name "Pictou" is of unknown origin, although there are some speculations, such as it being related to a Mi'kmaq term or to a province in France. 

Pictou County Pizza is unique as it's made with a brown sauce, rather than a red sauce, and it's loaded with a local, spicy pepperoni. The crust is also a bit thicker, definitely not a thin crust pizza. The most commonly accepted origin story is that two Greek immigrant brothers, George and Demetre Kouyas, opened Sam's Pizza in Stellarton around 1962. For unknown reasons, they decided to make their pizzas with a spicy brown tomato sauce, creating this regional style. Over time, other pizza places, generally owned by relatives of the Kouyas, have opened and also sell Pictou County Pizza. 

Although the brown sauce (which is actually more of a reddish-brown color) recipe is supposed to be a family secret, you can find recipes online, such as here, although it's unsure how close those recipes are to the actual sauce. Some pizza shop owners have also bottled their brown pizza sauce, which can be found in grocery stores in Canada, so you can try to make your own Pictou County pizza at home. 

Pictou County Pizza is usually made with “Brothers-style” pepperoni, which originated from two Polish immigrants, Max and Chris Kielbratowski, who opened meat shops in Nova Scotia. Over time, the family members went off on their own related endeavors, leading to three businesses: Original Brothers, Chris Brothers or 2 Boys: All three produce similar spicy pepperoni, based on the same family recipe, so all three are collectively known as the “Brothers-style” pepperoni. 

On my most recent trip to Nova Scotia, I stayed at a house in Dartmouth, and one of the closest places to get food, especially delivered, was Baini's Pizza on Caldwell Road in Dartmouth. As I perused their menu, I noticed they served Pictou Style Pizza four different ways. I had to google Pictou Style but once I read about it, I knew I had to try it. 

Of their four different Pictou pizzas, the first is a more traditional one, with Brother's style smoked pepperoni and Mozzarella cheese. There was also a Combo with smoked pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and extra Mozzarella cheese, a 4 Meats Combo made with smoked pepperoni, salami, hamburger, bacon, and extra Mozzarella cheese, and a 4 Veggies Combo with mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, red onions, and extra Mozzarella cheese. 

I initially ordered a small, traditional Pictou pizza (pictured above) and enjoyed it so much that I ordered two more, larger ones, on different days during my stay. The photo at the top of this post is a 16 inch Pictou pizza. 

The crust is a bit thicker, with a nice chewy texture, and there is a thick layer of spicy pepperoni slices mostly located beneath the layer of cheese. There's much more pepperoni in this pizza than you'll find on most other pizza styles. The sauce is more savory and spicy than many red sauces, but about the same consistency, and it's quite delicious. It complements the pizza quite well. The spiciness of the pizza, from the sauce and pepperoni, was compelling, and I'm definitely going to miss that pizza now that I'm back home. 

Have you ever had Pictou County Pizza?

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