5 Reasons You Should Be Eating Detroit-Style Pizza

Food Lists Detroit

Pizza is happiness. No single dish is more associated with fun, celebration, and childhood than America’s favorite food and regardless of the time of year or day, most of us can always go for a slice. Yet, with over 7,000 confirmed pizzerias in the United States, even the most diehard pizza fanatics can get burned out on the same old toppings and types of crust if they aren’t careful. Lucky for us, more and more regional styles of pizza are popping up across the country, and none so more delicious and comforting than southern Michigan’s own Detroit-style pizza.

Of course, no one in Detroit refers to their hometown pies as being “Detroit-style”; it’s simply just the pizza locals grew up with. But for the rest of us, describing pizza as Detroit-style, like the owners of Via 313 Austin, TX do, gives us a chance to learn about a misunderstood city’s culinary history and indulge in some truly enticing pizza. Whether you try making it at home or visit one of the many Detroit-style pizzerias popping up across the country, here are five reasons why you should be eating Detroit-style pizza.

It’s All In The Pan

Simply described as a square or rectangular pan pizza, Detroit’s signature style all goes back to some resourceful home cooks who wanted a crispier crust on their pizza. Legend has it that the originators of Detroit-style pizza were looking for something to bake a pizza in when they stumbled upon an unused oil drip pan. This being Detroit and all, it should come as no surprise that this is the locals’ favorite origin story (who doesn’t have an extra oil drip pan handy at home?), but there’s actually more sense behind it than you might think.

Traditional pizza pans are made of aluminum, which don’t promote carmelization of the dough as it bakes, but blackened steel, the pan de jour for Detroit-style, ensures that the outside of the crust gets extra crispy while the inside stays fluffy and chewy. American ingenuity truly is delicious.

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Like Deep Dish, But Without the Food Coma

Chicago deep dish is a thing of beauty, and it’s practically required eating to survive Chicago winters, but if you’re crazy enough to eat more than a slice or two in one sitting, you’ll be left with the equivalent of an anvil in your stomach. Much like its neighbor to the south, Detroit-style pizza takes some major liberties with the organization of toppings and how ingredients are rationed, and because of their similar baking processes, these two regional pizza styles also take on a lot of similar flavors.

However, Detroit-style is rooted in a lighter, chewier (and less butter-heavy) dough, along with a lighter hand when it comes to the quantity of toppings—in particular the sauce—compared to its Chicago brethren. When you’re snowed in and have nowhere to go in the foreseeable future, indulging in some Chicago deep dish can be the silver lining to the seemingly constant inclement weather…but for the rest of time, Detroit-style is where it’s at.

Cheese From Edge to Edge

Fact: there is nothing worse in this world than taking that first bite of pizza and accidentally dragging all of the cheese off the slice like a selfish sibling you’re stuck sharing a bed with on a family trip. Besides most likely burning the roof of your mouth, the rest of your slice now looks approximately 100 times less appetizing than it did before. Why? Because cheese makes everything better.

One of Detroit-style pizza’s greatest qualities is the delicious cheese that covers more ground than on any other style of pie. In every tasty bite you get the same amount of hot, zesty mozzarella, regardless of the bites’ proximity to the crust. In fact, maybe the most delicious part of Detroit-style pizza is where the crust and cheese meet, creating an intersection of crispiness and cheesy flavor that no one can resist. The more cheese, the better, which is why Detroit-style pizza is the best.

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Sauce Over Everything

Sauce is the unsung hero of good pizza. Forced to take a back seat to the crust and never getting the same exposure as the cheese, sauce is oftentimes over-spiced, over-sweetened or considered an afterthought. Luckily, Detroit-style takes its sauce cue from Chicago deep dish and features it as the last topping to hit the pie.

It might not seem like a big difference to the untrained palette, but adding the sauce on top of the cheese instead of underneath means that with each bite you get a fresh blast of tomato goodness to cut the savory cheese and whichever other toppings you’ve chosen to include on your pie. Whereas sauce becomes a less prominent aspect of Neapolitan or New York style pizza, Detroit’s sauce placement guarantees a completely different, and undoubtedly tasty, eating experience.

Now Available Nationwide

Whether south Michiganders are ready to share or not, their beloved hometown pizza is popping from coast to coast as Detroiters have left the Motor City for new markets. From Via 313 in Austin, TX to Junct’n Square in Telluride, CO to Loui Loui’s in Louisville, KY, the rise of Detroit-style pizza shows that not only is it a welcome taste of home for displaced Midwesterners, but the distinct flavors have also caught on with locals across the country.

Detroit has given America so many great things over the years, from classic cars to Motown to a city to help Cleveland feel good about itself, but their unique pizza should be held just as highly as the rest. Detroit’s fallen on hard times, but like any great phoenix, the city is rising from the ashes, however slowly, much like a delicious rectangular pizza straight from the oven. Do your own part in helping make sure Detroit’s honor lives on and indulge yourself in some delicious pizza. We’ve come close to losing this gem of a city before, let’s make sure we all help keep Detroit’s spirit alive, one bite of delicious pizza at a time.

Max Bonem is an eater and home cook who is more than likely hungry at this very moment. He enjoys writing about food and talking to other people about what they’re finding most appetizing at the moment. Holler at him on Twitter at @ChazarBlog.

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