Detroit style pizza is one of the key ingredients that fuels the Motor City. After a long night out or a chill night in, a Detroit style slice is always the perfect pick me up for any Michigander. Although Detroit Style is a staple in the mitten, it is still not as well-known as New York style and Chicago style pizza. However, Detroit deep dish is picking up traction all over the country, as more and more pizza places pop up trying to perfect the famous caramelized crust. To celebrate national Detroit Style Pizza Day, let's take a look back in time to see just how the "Motor City Square" was born.
What is Detroit Style Pizza?
In 1946, Detroit-style pizza was created on Six Mile and Conant in Detroit’s eastside at a sleepy midwestern bar named Buddy’s Rendezvous. Owner Gus Guerra decided to add food to his bar menu as a tactic to drum up business after the bar's days as a prohibition speakeasy were long gone. Influenced by their Sicilian roots, Guerra and wife Anna Passalacqua created their take on pizza using a family dough recipe. The duo also added some motor city flair to their process by baking it in industrial steel pans from an automotive plant, the perfect vessel for producing an airy yet crispy crust much like a Sicilian Sfincione.
Guerra also decided to construct the pie uniquely. Instead of the traditional sequence of ingredients you'd find on a NY-style slice, Guerra placed the pepperoni right on the dough, followed by brick cheese and a couple of tomato sauce stripes known today as a "Red Top". Little did they know this unusual take on pizza would soon be the iconic “Motor City Square” the Midwest couldn't get enough of. In no time, copycats started to pop up everywhere trying to replicate Guerra's recipe.
How to Make Detroit Style Pizza
A traditional Detroit-style pizza requires three staple ingredients: Sicilian-style dough, Wisconsin brick cheese, and a well seasoned industrial steel pan. If you want a step by step guide on how to make Detroit deep dish, watch chef Shawn Randazzo, owner of Detroit Style Pizza Company, make his authentic at home Detroit style pizza recipe.
When making an authentic Detroit deep dish, fresh dough made from scratch is a must. Just like in Sicily, Detroit-style dough is made with a mix of semolina and bread flour which helps give it a focaccia-like texture. For the perfect fluffy consistency, allow your dough to rest and rise for several hours in the pan.
Wisconsin brick cheese is a Detroit-style staple. However, it has become hard to come by and is fairly expensive. Today, a lot of pizza places have started blending brick cheese and mozzarella to create a similar taste. If you don't have access to Wisconsin brick cheese, Randazzo has a list of his best cheese blend alternatives. Keep in mind that no matter what cheese you use, it is crucial to apply it from corner to corner. This creates the caramelized cheese crust that a Detroit-style slice is known for.
An authentic steel Detroit-style pan is essential to the pizza baking process. The best pies are baked in a well-oiled and seasoned pan that has been cared for properly. Learning how to properly maintain your Detroit-style pan is simple, as long as you follow a couple of crucial rules. Just like a cast iron pan, your Detroit-style pan will produce more flavor with age, so breaking it in is important. In addition, it is critical to never wash your steel pan with soap and water. Instead, scrape off excess oil with a scraper and store it with a brush of vegetable oil.
Where to find Detroit Style Pizza
Although Michigan is full of chain restaurants like Little Caesar's and Jet's Pizza that sling out "Detroitish" style slices, several small-scale Metro Detroit gems shine above the rest. Without further ado, here is our list of the Top 10 Places to get Detroit Style Pizza.
1. Buddy’s Pizza
It is no surprise that the original birthplace of Detroit deep dish takes the #1 spot on our list. Although Buddy’s has expanded all over Michigan, a slice from the OG location on Conant street reigns supreme. We suggest ordering the classic with pepperoni buried under melted Wisconsin brick cheese topped with their signature red sauce. Every stoner knows that pizza tastes better after a smoke session. We recommend pairing your pizza with a fat rip from an Ooze Pen!
- 17125 Conant St, Detroit, MI 48212
2. Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant
In 1953, Guerra sold Buddy’s Pizza to Jimmy Valentini and Jimmy Bonacorsi hoping to use the money to open up a pizza joint in Eastpointe with his wife. Today, Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant is still slinging out his original Detroit deep dish recipe with Guerra’s children Marie Easterby and Jack Guerra running the show. We suggest grabbing a crispy cheese pizza with a generous amount of their savory red sauce. A slice with this pedigree pairs perfectly with a pearled joint. So, grab one of our dope rolling trays and get to work!
- 24443 Gratiot Ave, Eastpointe, MI 48021
3. Loui’s Pizza
Loui’s Pizza contains one crucial ingredient: A chef's kiss. Louis Tourtois, the founder of Loui's Pizza, was a chef at Buddy’s before taking his vast knowledge of deep-dish to Hazel Park where he opened a pizza joint of his own. We recommend ordering a square pie fresh out of their brick oven with a bottle of chianti. The fresh ingredients in this Hazel Park deep dish are even more delicious with a monster hit out of an Ooze pipe!
4. Detroit Style Pizza Co. Pizzeria
With a name like Detroit Style Pizza Company, owner Shawn Randazzo has some big shoes to fill. Located on Harper avenue in St Clair Shores, this deep dish pizza joint is dedicated to making sure the entire nation knows about Detroit-style pizza.
5. Amar Pizza
If you are always in the mood for fusion, look no further than Amar Pizza, a pizza place serving up Detroit style with a twist. This Bangladeshi and Italian pizzeria fuses flavors to perfection with menu items like tandoori chicken, spicy naga, and ghost pepper pizza. Featured on the Travel Channel and Real Detroit, Amar Pizza kicks up the heat on the traditional midwestern classic. We suggest ordering yourself a tandoori chicken deep dish and pairing it with a fat hit from an Ooze Bong!
- 12195 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212
6. Pie Sci
Pie Sci takes Detroit style pizza to science class, with a unique menu that offers three classes of pizza to choose from. Depending on your taste buds, you can choose from elementary choices like a classic cheese all the way to graduate-level concoctions like their famous Mac to the Future. Pie Sci also offers many vegan and gluten-free options! We suggest ordering a pie from their weekly menu offering which they coin the science lab. Pie Sci can get spicy. We suggest pairing your pie with one of our chilled Glycerin pipes!
8. Belle Isle Pizza
Belle Isle Pizza takes Detroit pride to another level. Featuring specialty pizzas named after famous neighborhoods in the city, this hole in the wall is a great pregame before spending the day at the beach on Belle Isle. We suggest trying out the Corktown, a pizza that features Sy Ginsberg corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing. We recommend diving into this delicious deep dish after ripping an Ooze dab pen!
- 7869 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48214
8. Michigan & Trumbull
Michigan & Trumbull is a new pizza place with old-school techniques. In 2017, native Detroiters Nathan Peck and Kristen Calverley opened up a pizza shop in Pittsburg because they couldn't find any real deal deep dish in the city. After killing it in the burg, they made their way back home and opened up Michigan & Trumbull in Corktown. We suggest grabbing their Long Drive Home, a Detroit deep dish with vodka sauce, sausage, and banana peppers. A delicious hybrid pie from this innovative pizza joint goes well with one of our many 4-in-1 Hybrids.
- 1441 W Elizabeth St, Detroit, MI 48216
9. Palazzo di Pizza
Shawn Randazzo has made it his life's mission to show the world authentic Detroit-style pizza while also showcasing his Italian roots. That's why Randazzo and his cousin created Palazzo dl Pizza, an authentic pizza place that offers Detroit style with traditional Italian recipes. We suggest ordering their signature Chicken Pesto or Eggplant Parmigiana deep dish. They pair beautifully with a refreshing pull from an Ooze Bubbler!
10. Green Lantern Restaurant & Bar
In 1955, Thomas and Irene Vettraino opened up Green Lantern in hopes of making the best Detroit-style pizza possible. They have continued to stay true to their roots while slinging delicious pies across the state. We suggest grabbing their Everything pizza, a pie that's got a little bit of... everything! We suggest pairing it with a puff from an Ooze dry herb vaporizer!
Detroit-style pizza has taken the nation by storm. With more and more places serving up Guerra's delicious invention, it is important to remember where it all started.