Best Pepperoni Roll in the Valley?

This is our Roll

The pepperoni roll is uniquely West Virginian.  Wikipedia states that the pepperoni roll “is arguably the food most closely associated with the state (West Virginia).”  In fact, in March of 2013, the West Virginia legislature declared the pepperoni roll the official “State Food.”

Try driving one hour beyond the state border and see how many people are familiar with them.  The answer is hardly anyone.  West Virginians love pepperoni rolls so much that when they are not in the mountain state, they order them online and have them shipped all over the world from sites like pepperonirolls.net.  And it wasn’t until last year that the snack finally made a national splash.  Sheetz, the Mid-Atlantic sh-gas sh-station, had the gall to sell pepperoni rolls from an out of state source. West Virginians went nuts and threatened a boycott, which was a big deal in some towns across the state with many food deserts, as people were willing to give up their only food source.   Sheetz reversed the decision, with Ryan Sheetz, a spokesman for the family business, citing: “We knew that it was a passionate item, so we knew that we would get some feedback. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the level of feedback that we got.”

The History of our Famous Snack

A “passionate item” indeed.  How did this happen? The pepperoni roll was first sold by Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont in 1927.   At the time, North Central West Virginia had two forces colliding that created our most beloved delicacy: an influx of Italian immigrants and coal mining.  The thing that might scare some (let’s be honest – most) foodies about the pepperoni roll is the fact that it can sit safely at room temperature for days, weeks, maybe millennia even; this is also the thing that led to its popularity.  Coal miners could easily store them as they headed underground, and could enjoy them throughout their work day.

Weelunk Issues a Challenge

Today you find the pepperoni roll at most convenience store locations, including here in the Ohio Valley, (yes Ohio and Pa. are starting to catch on).  When it comes to food, weelunk.com has focused on our icons, like DiCarlo’s Pizza and Coleman’s Fish.  Today we ask our beloved Weelunkers for help in finding the best pepperoni roll in the Ohio Valley.  Simply use the comment section at the bottom of this page and tell us where to find your favorite and why it’s so good.  We will tabulate the results and report in the next few weeks our findings, and we might even visit the establishments who sell the top vote getters to profile them for you.

A Recipe 



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In the meantime, here’s a recipe we use to make our pepperoni rolls at home… maybe you’ll try to make your own:

Buy a bag of frozen Rhodes “BakeNServ” Dinner Rolls and thaw according to package instructions.

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Once thawed, roll them out on a floured surface.

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After going to Miklas Meat Market and buying sliced pepperoni and sliced cheddar cheese (shredded works as well),  place two or three slices of pepperoni on the flat dough and add cheese on top. Next, roll the dough around the cheese and pepperoni and “pinch” the sides so it is “sealed.”

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Place them on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until slightly browned – approximately thirty minutes.

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Let them cool.

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And then of course, arrange them in the shape of West Virginia.

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15 Responses

  1. George jones

    The donut shop in the warwood plaza has the best taste AND price

    Reply
  2. Matt

    Julia’s Pepperoni Rolls made at Chico Bakery in Morgantown, WV are the best Pep Rolls that I have eaten.

    Reply
  3. dr dng

    Unfortunately, I have also had some less than tasty rolls. I will refrain from listing them here. Guess I will have to try some of the ones suggested above.

    On a similar note, I have run basketball tournaments with a number of visiting fans from that metropolitan city of Pittsburgh. When you offer pepperoni rolls for sale, their comment is nearly always the same, “what is a pepperoni roll?”

    Reply
    • Jay D

      LeeRoy’s recipe is pretty close to the quintessential, proud, homemade rolls to be found at WVU tailgates except,.. according to the general consensus…Not cheddar, only Mozzarella or Provolone.. use cheese squares inside a little larger than domino size, Wedges of pepperoni, not slices. The Rhodes dinner roll dough is most people’s favorite. Keep it simple, no sauce inside, don’t turn it into a Calzone and call it a WV pepperoni roll. Served outside the roll it’s acceptable to have some Oliverio’s Italian sauce, hot peppers, pepperoncini or yellow mustard available. Everyone has their favorites but homemade done right usually wins. So now you know…and probably don’t care! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Christine

    DeFelice Bros has an excellent pepperoni roll, delicious crust, with just enough crisp on the outside, plenty of pepperoni and nice and cheesy!! Yum

    Reply
  5. Jay D

    Pepperoni used in approx. 2″ sticks!! Never, never slices. This has been debated and resolved on the Mountaineer fan forum website (wemustignitethiscouch.com) for years. LOL!

    Reply
  6. Debby

    My choose for “the Best” is Miklas Meat Market…homemade, generous size, with yummy pepperoni ! I think I will have to have one today…

    Reply
  7. Derrick

    Fairmont may have invented it, but Wheeling took it ten steps further and perfected it.

    DeFelice Bros Pizza and Grecos immediately come to mind as the all-time great heavyweights of pepperoni rolls. Both have unbelievably crispy, crunchy outsides, and delicious flavors inside. I take two of DeFelice’s with me to Jambo every year – extra cup of sauce – but I think if push came to shove I would vote for Greco’s “greceroni roll” as the all time best thanks to its final brush with butter and parmesan cheese.

    No matter who wins, every pepperoni roll in the Valley tops those puffy, bready ones found in North Central WV.

    Reply

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