For her pepperoni roll exploration in West Virginia, Vivian brought along her friend, writer and West Virginia native Courtney Balestier. Balestier wrote a beautiful ode to the culinary tradition in an essay she calls “Poetry of the Pepperoni Roll.”
Born out of a talk Balestier gave at the 2016 Appalachian Food Summit, you can find the essay in full on her website here, and we suggest you spend a little time reading it.
In a line that echoes themes we tease out in the show, Balestier exudes an enthusiasm for this particular hand pie shared by her fellow West Virginians: “The pepperoni roll, really, is a poem: self-contained, complete, economical in every sense of the word.” She goes on to explain a rich history, from the large number of Italian immigrants in West Virginia mines that led to the Italian consulate opening a temporary office in the small Appalachian state to a modern-day battle with Sheetz gas station over a less superior, machine-made version of the roll available via their touch-screen menu. Plus, Balestier compares the merits of pepperoni stick versus slice, cheese versus meat-only.
Hungry yet? A trip to West Virginia will cure these pepperoni roll pangs. We took a page (literally) from Candace Nelson’s book, “The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll,” for a list of all the bakeries who make West Virginia’s famed food (in-state, of course). They are listed as they appear in Nelson’s book. Many of them offer online ordering and shipping!
Country Club Bakery | Fairmont, W.Va.
Tomaro’s Bakery | Clarksburg, W.Va.
D’Annunzio’s Italian Bakery | Clarksburg, W.Va. & Longs, SC
Abruzzino’s Italian Bakery | Gypsy, W.Va.
Chico Bakery | Morgantown, W.Va.
Colasessano’s | Fairmont, W.Va.
Rogers and Mazza Italian Bakery | Mt. Clare, W.Va.
Home Industry Bakery | Clarksburg, W.Va.
The Donut Shop | Buckhannon, W.Va.
JR’s Donut Castle | Parkersburg, W.Va.