The Midwest's Popular Portesi Cheese Fries Aren't Actually Fries

When you live in one of the coldest areas of the United States, aka the Midwest, one of your only sources of warmth and comfort comes from food. Each state has its own specialty, and some of them include Cincinnati-style chili in Ohio, Michigan pasties, sugar cream pie in Indiana, and kringles in Wisconsin, as mentioned by Midwest Living.

Midwestern food, as The Wall Street Journal puts it, is all about "everyday cooking" and a "collective" experience rather than putting some fancy fine-dining chef on a pedestal. In fact, restaurants across the country are putting their own spin on traditional Midwestern fare. For instance, the restaurant Agnes in Pasadena, California, serves up bone-in pork chops, cheese curds, and gnocchi that may remind you of a loaded baked potato.

If there's one type of Midwest food that highlights the above "collective" eating experience, it's pizza. Some of them are thick and bread-like, like the Chicago-style deep dish, while others are paper thin à la tavern-style, via PureWow. And if you happen to have the chance to browse through a frozen pizza aisle in the Midwest, see if you can find something called "Portesi Cheese Fries." Except they're nothing like fries or pizza, per The Takeout. Here's some insight into this cheesy masterpiece.

Baked dough with cheese and spices

According to Portesi, their iconic cheese fries start with a "thin or rising dough crust" that is topped with garlic butter, spices, and mozzarella. The baked dough can then be sliced into large rectangular pieces, which may be eaten on its own or dipped into the provided marinara sauce. In short, the sliced rectangles look like a version of cheesy fries!

As The Takeout explains, the flavors of Portesi Cheese Fries are nostalgic, and biting into a slice brings back childhood memories. But for those who aren't familiar with the "fries", they'll probably relish in the gooey cheese, savory garlic butter, and flavorful crust. And as the source notes, don't skimp out on the marinara sauce because it adds an element of acidity that cuts through the rich cheesy flavors.

You can also choose between thin crust or "hi-rise" crust, though the latter is only available in a 12-inch size. Thin crust is, of course, thin and crunchy, while "hi-rise" is described as "hefty, stomach patting," with implications that it's much thicker, per Portesi.

The Midwest is known for a whole lot of food staples, and Portesi Cheese Fries is one of them. They may look like regular ol' cheese pizzas and have the eating mechanism of French fries, but the best part is they're all about nostalgia and an eating experience that brings people together.