To me, Canada’s gift to the culinary world always seems to land on the side of odd. Case in point, covering fries with gravy and cheese curds or slathering a flat doughnut with sweet or savoury toppings. So, when I stumbled across Regina style pizza, I shouldn’t have been surprised by what was slapped down in front of me.
This is my take on Regina Style Pizza including how it came to be and where to get it.
What is Regina Style Pizza?
In short, Regina Style Pizza is like Chicago deep-dish without the deep dish. Toppings are plentiful with plenty of sauce. Above, cheese is baked to a crust. The dough is described as sweet but for me, it tastes like the small-town pizza I grew up with – thick and chewy. It’s a far departure from the Neapolitan style that dominates Vancouver’s food scene but a welcome return.
The final defining feature is how it’s cut. Although it’s a round pie, Regina Style Pizza is cut into squares. I’d like to think this has something to do with the flat prairies or geographical shape of the province but, in reality, it’s most likely because the weight of the toppings are no match for a traditional slice.
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Types and Toppings
Like any pie, this pizza comes with a variety of toppings. That said, the traditional Regina Style Pizza includes deli cut sandwich meat (yes, lunch meat) piled high, green peppers (go Riders), sauce, and that crusty cheese topping.
This Tweet from @DevinPatches sums up the Traditional Regina Style Pizza best;
Where Does Regina Style Pizza Come From?
If you looked at a slice (square) and thought there is nothing Italian about this, you would be correct. Regina Style Pizza was born in the 1970s by Greek immigrant and Houston pizza restaurant owner Jim Kolitsas. Since then, this pizza has evolved slightly however the lasagna style toppings and square cut stays the same to this day.
Where Can You Get Regina Style Pizza?
Although variations can be found around town, there are three places that are connected to the source.
- Houston Pizza – The OG. This now chain restaurant started in 1976 with a pizza sauce locals came to love.
- Western Pizza – Also a chain, this restaurant was started by a second cousin of Houston Pizza owner.
- Westside Pizza – Once a Western Pizza location and formerly called Tumblers
My Take on Regina Style Pizza
The first time I had (and heard about) Regina Style Pizza was while driving on a road trip across Canada. I had one night in Regina and asked a friend, who grew up there, what to see, do, eat and drink. He sent me Sparky’s Diner, a favourite hangout of his at one time. With a name like that, how can you go wrong?
Walking in, I was instantly taken back to my days living in Alberta. The bar was dark with hockey highlights playing on every TV and there was one lone man out of the Video Lottery Machine in the corner, possibly the same man from my college bar hang-out. The walls were plastered with Old-Style Pilsner swag and Roughriders memorabilia.
Although being side-eyed for wearing a mask indoors, I sat and ordered a pizza. What came next was simply odd. Not so much for the pile of lunch meat, but for the familiarity. It could be because I was already nostalgic about my surroundings, but the Regina pizza, stack of meat aside, tasted exactly like the lone pizza shop in the neighbourhood where I grew up. There was a certain small-town taste to it, and I liked it.
This made me think that, besides unique cut and, again, stack-o-meat, Regina pizza could really be Saskatchewan pizza or Candian-style pizza for that matter. The familiarity of it all just tastes like home to me.
Regina Pizza – Second Slice
On my recent return to Regina, I wanted to try it from the source. Having talked it up to friends before going, I had high expectations. We first tried to get into Western Pizza but, seemingly like everything else in downtown Regina at 3 PM on a Friday, it was closed. Instead, we landed at Houston Pizza.
This restaurant chain has a run-down Boston Pizza vibe to it and the pizza itself was just OK. It’s possible that Regina Style Pizza does not pair well with well-lit surroundings and zero beers. The dank pub surroundings from my first visit certainly added to the experience.
Grad a Square
It may not be as life-changing as soup-filled dumplings in Georgia but am a fan of pretty much anything this country produces and will defend it, right or wrong. This includes any Canadian style pizza.
Regina Style Pizza, for me, is great in a given time and place. Roughriders pregame or post-game celebration? Absolutely. Mid-afternoon meal? Not so much. Still, you can order online and have it shipped pretty much anywhere (as transplanted Reginans do) so I might just order one up come Super Bowl or Grey Cup time in the future and see how it holds up!