Some call pepperoni rolls the unofficial state food of West Virginia, where they were first sold by Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro at Country Club Bakery in 1927 and are still a local staple. However, these doughy delicacies seem to have found a following here in North Texas.
Generally, a classic pepperoni roll consists of two ingredients: dough and pepperoni. The meat is stuffed in the center of the roll and baked. The fats from the pepperoni seep into the dough, adding extra spice to the end product. The pepperoni can be inserted as sticks, slices or ground meat. The roll can come in varying shapes and sizes as well.
Pepperoni rolls were meant to be eaten on the go. Their history dates back to West Virginia’s coal mining days, according to a recent CBS feature. Italian immigrants who were working the mines needed a one-handed snack to bring with them on a long day of work. The pepperoni rolls didn't require refrigeration, so they were perfect for the job.
In Dallas, Angelo & Vito’s Pizzeria (4520 Frankford Road) serves a classic take on the West Virginia dish ($4.99). Martin, a manager at Angelo and Vito’s Dallas location, says the cooks stretch pizza dough into 12-inch pieces and cut these into eight smaller strips. Garlic butter shimmers and bubbles off the top of the freshly baked rolls at Angelo & Vito’s. They resemble robust, less flaky croissants. Slices of pepperoni rip out of the inside as your teeth pull away from a huge bite.
Ferrari’s Pizzeria (3949 Legacy Drive, Plano) serves pepperoni rolls ($3.25) that can fit in the palm of your hand. They use their regular pizza dough, stuffing it with three slices of pepperoni. After rolling the dough, each one is dipped in egg wash, oiled up and sprinkled with parsley.
They come out soft and hot and fall apart in your mouth with every bite. But like other restaurants, they step away from the intended convenience of the pepperoni roll by serving it with marinara sauce or ranch.
Austin-based Double Dave’s Pizzaworks (220 West University Drive, Denton and 800 S. Main St., Keller) likes to add cheese to the mix. Hand-tossed dough is stuffed with diced pepperoni and smoked provolone. The way they are rolled, they come out of the oven looking like breadsticks.
In 1984, founder David Miller began serving Double Dave’s signature pepperoni rolls to students at Texas A&M University in College Station. Since then, they have become a staple of the restaurant’s menu. On most days, they can be bought for $1.50 apiece. On Tuesdays, however, they are served all day for $1 per roll.
Other places have created their own take on pepperoni rolls. Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom (5319 E. Mockingbird Lane) throws green onions into the mix with their Sicilian Rolls. 5th Street Pizza (111 S. Central Expressway, Allen) stuffs their pepperoni rolls with eight different cheeses and tops them with signature seasoning.
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However, some of the most basic, down-to-earth pepperoni rolls are actually sold at a local chain of kolache shops called iHeart Kolache (3901 Midway Road, Farmers Branch). They don’t call them pepperoni rolls, though. Instead, it's listed as a special kolache on their menu. It's a simple combination of dough, pepperoni and mozzarella.
Prepped earlier in the day, the pepperoni rolls are thrown into the microwave for a few seconds upon ordering. When you bite into it, a burst of hot steam will pour out. A small amount of baked-to-a-crisp cheese can be seen protruding from an accidental orifice on a side of the roll.
These West Virginian snacks are a long way from home here in North Texas, but they deserve the delicious, storied reputation that precedes them.