Detroit Style Pizza: Is it even a pizza?

These are square-shaped pizzas…Square!!!

Detroit has been abode to some of the many incredible and world-acclaimed stuff including the origin of Motown music, the thriving automobile industry, and its unique style of pizza — The Detroit Pizza.

Detroit-style pizza is a rectangular pizza with a thick, crispy crust made in a deep-dish pan lined with Wisconsin brick cheese. It is known for its unique shape, with a caramelized and crunchy edge, and the sauce is placed on top of the cheese and toppings, which are usually meat and pepperoni. The pizza was first introduced by Buddy’s Rendezvous in 1946.

The origin of Detroit-style pizza dates back to 1946 when Gus Guerra, the owner of a world-renowned outlet- Buddy’s Rendezvous, wanted to add something new and unique to the menu. Over time, food connoisseurs and chefs added their own twists to the traditional Detroit pizza, and yet it still never fails to captivate its diners with an otherworldly taste.

If you’re wondering what else makes the Detroit pizza so special and where you can go to get the best of these pizzas, below is the comprehensive guide. 

Detroit Pizza Glossary: What makes Detroit Pizza different from the other pizzas?

Detroit-style pizza encompasses certain features that make it one-of-a-kind. From its unique shape to its distinctive red top, below is the Detroit pizza Lexicon that defines a typical Detroit-style pizza:

1. The Shape

Would you be surprised if you order a pizza and it gets served in a square shape? Well, you will be if you order a regular pizza, but if it’s a Detroit-style pizza, it has got to be square in shape. 

I know what you’re thinking- “But they are rectangle-shaped!” They might appear so. But they are in fact, Square in shape. And you might confuse them with “deep dish pizza” but the latter is more of a pie than a pizza. 

2. The Red Top

Detroit Square is often referred to as “The Red top”. The typical red top of a Detroit-style pizza comes from the sauce that is put last on these pizzas after pepperoni and cheese. 

The order of ingredients in a typical pizza is sauce on the dough, followed by pepperoni and cheese. However, the order is reversed on a Detroit-style pizza. Here, you’ll see pepperoni or other meat at the bottom, then comes loads of cheese, followed by sauce drizzled on the top. 

It might sound offbeat, but this unconventional “red top” technique prevents the pizza from becoming soggy. Besides, the meat at the bottom lets the dough absorb its juices making it taste even more flavourful. 

3. The Cheese

Mozzarella cheese is a vital ingredient for any traditional pizza recipe to be complete. But not the case with a Detroit-style pizza. 

Detroit Style pizza is mostly topped with loads of Wisconsin brick cheese. At least, Buddy’s uses this rule of thumb for its Detroit square. 

Wisconsin brick cheese is not an easily recognizable cheese name. It dates back to the 1870s and has its share of popularity limited to these pizzas. It is a semi-soft, mild-flavored cheese with a higher fat content than mozzarella and a similar taste to Cheddar. 

On a Detroit-style pizza, the brick cheese would stay gooey at the center while also spreading to the sides and caramelizing to the edges with a crispy texture. To boot, the excessive fat of brick cheese gives a buttery texture to the pizza base as it cooks. 

4. The Industrial Pan

Did you know- Buddy’s found industrial blue steel pans used by auto workers at factories in Detroit and used them as Pizza vessels for Detroit-style pizza?

Where do you think the square shape of the Detroit-style pizza comes from? The square industrial blue steel pans do the job. These pans have deep walls that allow the pizza dough to stretch out resulting in a crusty and chewy interior. 

The pan allows a caramelized and crunchy edge on the pizza crust, which is the hallmark of a Detroit-style pizza. 

The Detroit-style pizza lexicon digest above might have given you a good appetite for the Detroit pizza. Wondering where you can order one? Look below:

Where to order Detroit Style Pizza?

You will find tonnes of restaurants baking square pies in Metro Detroit. However, the three pioneers that lead the delicacies of Detroit-style pizza are — Buddy’s Rendezvous at Conant Street, Loui’s Pizza in Hazel Park, and Cloverleaf Pizza in Eastpointe. 

1. Buddy’s Rendezvous
Location: 17125 Conant St., Detroit, MI 48212

Buddy’s Rendevouz is the granddaddy of Detroit square. This aesthetic little bar and restaurant hold the credit for introducing square pizza to the world. Founded in 1946 by Gus Guerra, Buddy’s still sticks true to its original recipe of Wisconsin brick cheese, red sauce, and chewy dough.

2. Loui’s Pizza
Location: 23141 Dequindre Rd., Hazel Park, MI 48030

Popular for its Hawaiian pizza, Loui’s pizza is another authentic pizzeria to try out Detroit-style pizza. The evening minglings at Loui’s are perfect for families. The white Christmas lights and woven basket-encased Chianti bottles make Loui’s an enduring venue.

3. Cloverleaf
Location: 24443 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe, MI 48021

Cloverleaf is another restaurant operated on the legacies of Gus Guerra. It is an award-winning pizzeria that has managed to keep its recipe authentic and unaltered for 68 years. Popular for cheese and pepperoni pizza, Colverlead also provides gluten-free options.

Detroit-Style Pizza FAQs  

1. Is Detroit-style pizza a thing?

Yes, Detroit-style pizza is a specific style of pizza that originated in Detroit Michigan in the 1940s. Its specialty is that it is square-shaped with a thick and crispy crust. 

In a Detroit-style pizza recipe, the meat goes on the dough first, followed by Wisconsin brick cheese, and topped with sauce. Thus, It is also called ‘The Red Top”. A Detroit-style pizza is baked in an industrial blue steel pan. 

2. What is the difference between New york style pizza and Detroit-style pizza?

The main difference between New York-style pizza and Detroit-style pizza lies in their crusts. New York-style pizzas are thin and foldable while Detroit-style pizzas are thick and square-shaped. 

Besides, New York-style pizzas are exceptionally large with a slightly-chew crust whereas Detroit-style pizzas are comparatively chewy and are baked in a deep rectangular pan that gives them a distinctive shape.

3. What is the difference between Chicago-style pizza and Detroit-style pizza?

Similar to a traditional pie, Chicago-style pizza has a thin and deep crust. Whereas Detroit Style pizza has a thick and fluffy crust, similar to Italian focaccia. 

The Final Word

Detroit pizza has had its everlasting legacy of extraordinary pizza since the 1940s and it still maintains its massive share of popularity in Detroit and other US states. 

Its unique square shape, one-of-a-kind dough, delicious sauce, melty Wisconsin brick cheese, and reversed pizza recipe; make Detroit pizza a delectable and memorable dish. 

Detroit-style pizza is a must-try for anyone who appreciates regional and unique cuisines.