It’s the true square beyond compare. Detroit-style pizza was reportedly born in the late 1940’s at a Detroit speakeasy-turned-bar-turned-pizza joint called Buddy’s Rendezvous (now a member of the PMQ Pizza Hall of Fame). Owner Gus Guerra’s Italian mother-in-law created a square, pan-baked, Sicilian-style pizza that was the cat’s meow with World War II GIs returning from Europe. Men's Journal calls it "America's Most Overlooked Pie," but it has lately become all the rage with hipsters at Emmy Squared in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Here are 8 useful facts you need to know about Detroit’s greatest export since the Model T.
- It’s Hip to be Square, Daddio
Detroit-style pizza is baked in square steel pans, modeled after the pans once used by Detroit’s famed automobile manufacturers. The pans were used on assembly lines for small parts and as oil pans in automotive shops. Like a short-order grill, the well-seasoned pans bake progressively yummier pies.
2. A Detroit Style By Any Other Name Would Taste as Sweet
This pie has got more names than a Shakespeare history play. Red Top Pizza, Upside Down Pizza and The Motor City Secret are aliases inspired by the practice of ladling the tomato sauce on the cheese and toppings, usually after the pies are baked.
- And the Winner Is…
Detroit-style is rising to the top of the pizza world after winning “World’s Best Pizza" honors in 2012 at Pizza Expo. It’s currently part of the expansion plan for several growing national pizza chains. And it's getting great press: Thrillist.com says it's "much better" than Chicago's deep-dish style and calls it "the deep-dish pizza to which all other so-called 'deep-dish pizzas' aspire."
- Rising Revenues, Rising Influence
Authentic Detroit-style pizza is currently served in at least 10 U.S. states and six countries. You can even make Detroit-style pizza at home using kits, complete with pans and dough.
- Tastes Like ‘Buttah’
The buttery flavor that wows Detroit-style aficionados actually has nothing to do with butter. The distinctive taste of the airy crust comes from a little oil and the complementary melting properties of mozzarella and Wisconsin brick cheese. The finished product is crunchy and caramelized.
6. Detroit-Style Rules
Detroit-style topping protocol makes it traditional to add pepperoni directly on the dough before the addition of cheese. Other toppings go on the cheese.
- Motor City Madness
In New York and Chicago, they may threaten to break the fingers of hapless rubes who fork-and-knife their pizza, but in the Motor City, such madness is OK. A Detroit-style slab is typically served at 230 red-hot degrees, and safety and utensils go hand-in-hand. The crust is light and porous, not chewy like New York-style or hefty like a Chicago deep-dish.
8. Meet My Italian Cousin
Detroit-style’s closest relative is probably the Sicilian sfincione (made here by John Arena, co-owner of Metro Pizza in Las Vegas), a spongy, pan-baked focaccia that's usually topped with olive oil and tomato sauce.