What Is Detroit Style Pizza?
DebbiSmirnoff / iStock / Getty Images Plus

What Is Detroit Style Pizza?

By
and
This regional pizza has taken even New York City by storm
What Is Detroit Style Pizza?
DebbiSmirnoff / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Detroit is a city rich with culture and industry, from the music of Motown to the manufacturing of cars. This Michigan metropolis has much, much more to offer, of course, especially in regards to food. Over the past few years, Detroit style pizza has taken hold of the nation’s pizza subconscious. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a style you definitely need to know.

Regional Dishes You’ve Never Heard Of

There’s no shortage of regional pizza styles, from the world-famous thin crust pies in New York City to the weighty, sausage-packed deep dish pizzas in Chicago. They all have — more or less — the same ingredients: a bready crust, sauce, cheese and various toppings. And Detroit style pizza is no different in that sense. But it has its own distinctive features.

What is Detroit style pizza?

Detroit style pizza’s most notable feature is the crust. The recipe for a Detroit style pizza crust is a classic Sicilian pizza dough. The pan it's cooked in — and how it’s cooked — is what makes this pie different from your normal airy Sicilian slice.

That pan has a thick, rectangular shape, and legend has it that the original heavy steel pans came from an auto factory that used them to store spare nuts and bolts. It's a true Motor City origin story.

The double-proofed Sicilian-style dough is placed in these well-oiled pans. Like Chicago-style pizza, the toppings are placed on in reverse order. Traditionally, it starts with pepperoni; the oils from the meat seep into the dough, adding more flavor. Then Wisconsin brick cheese — which is sweet, mild, and perfect for melting — is sprinkled across the pie. Other toppings go on next. Finally, tomato sauce is ladled on top of the cheese and toppings. The entire thing is then baked in the oven until well-done, which results in edges that are crunchy and a bottom that is crispy and almost fried.

The smallish pies are usually cut into four square slices, which means everybody gets a highly-coveted corner.

Who invented Detroit style pizza?

Buddy’s Pizza, a chain dating back to 1946 with 12 locations in the area, is widely regarded as the inventor of — and standard-bearer for — Detroit style pizza. According to the restaurant’s website, Gus Guerra and Concetta “Connie” Piccinato started making and selling the first square-style pizza in the United States 75 years ago.

Today, you can find Detroit style pizza all across the city and Michigan, as well as in almost every other major city in the country. Even some of America’s favorite pizza chains like Little Caesar’s and Pizza Hut offer Detroit style pies. But there’s still nothing like the original, which is why it ranks in the top 10 on our list of the 101 best pizzas in America.

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