What is Detroit style pizza?

As any pizza fan already knows, one of the beauties of pizza is it’s versatility, allowing anyone to make it their own. And not just anyone as in Betty your neighbor on the second floor. Countries, and even cities within a country have adapted the traditional Italian pizza to their liking, creating variations such as Mexican pizza, Greek pizza and so on.

In most cases it’s all about the topics. Each country/city/culture will change the toppings based on what they have in abundance. Seaside locations will add sea-food to their pizza, in tropical countries they will add fruits, etc. Sometimes the dough might also vary, but mostly in its thickness.

Detroit however really spined the traditional pizza beyond the toppings, creating something very unique, which most of the people who try it immediately fall in love with.

What makes Detroit-style pizza unique?

Detroit style pizza is a unique type of pizza that was invented in Detroit, Michigan in the late 40s. It is known for its intense flavor and unique texture.

One of the things that makes Detroit-style pizza special is it’s thick crust, very oily, similar in a way to the Italian focaccia, that gives it a unique spongy texture.

Another characteristic that makes it unique is it’s shape. Typically cooked in steel pans Detroit-style pizzas are usually square.

But there’s more. Detroit flipped their pizzas upside down! Instead of following the traditional order of dough-sauce-cheese-toppings they do dough-toppings-cheese-more toppings-sauce.

The sauce is added last, and when baked it takes flavor from the toppings and the cheese as it makes its way down to the dough.

So to recap, if you order a Detroit-style pizza, this is what you can expect.

  • A Rectangular shaped pie.
  • Thick, focaccia-like crust.
  • Inverse ingredient order (dough first, then peperoni, then cheese, then other toppings, sauce goes last).
  • Cooked in steel pans.
  • Cheese spreads to the walls of the pan, burning and creating a crispy cheese crust.

When did Detroit-style pizza became popular?

The first Detroit-style pizza was created in 1946 by Gus Guerra and his wife, Anna Guerra, who owned a bar in Detroit called Buddy’s Rendezvous. Or at least that’s the most widely accepted version of the story. Back then they didn’t know they were inventing the Detroit-style pizza though, and the term is believed to have been first used on a trade magazine in the 80s.

The pizza became popular within the Buddy’s Rendezvous customers, it even gain some regional popularity, but it didn’t really extend beyond de Detroit area until the 2010s.

In 2011 two Detroit raised brothers now living in Texas decided to open a pizzeria using the term “Detroit-style” in it’s name, and in 2012 several restaurants nation-wide had listed “Detroit-style” pizzas in their menus.

The recipe has been gained popularity ever since. A quick look at Google Trends shows how the term “Detroit-style” pizza” has been consistently gaining popularity over the past few years, with a couple big spikes in interest thanks to some really good press mentions, including GurbHug listing it as one of the top 5 food trends in America in 2021.

So there you have it. A bit of history, and what you can expect if you order a Detroit-style pizza.

If you’re in Detroit, or even if you’re not, and you’re looking for a unique and delicious pizza experience, then you need to try Detroit-style pizza. What are you waiting for? It might just become your new favorite type of pizza!

You won’t be disappointed.

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My name is Guillermo Luciano Carone. I’m a food enthusiast, and as I’m sure you can tell by my middle and last names, Italy is well embedded into my DNA! I love cooking, eating and learning about the things I cook and eat. My goal here is to share my passion for traditional Italian food, and hopefully make you a little bit more of an Italian-food-fan than you might already be yourself!

2 responses to “What is Detroit style pizza?”

  1. […] on the other hand, is often loaded with toppings. Common toppings include pepperoni like in the Detroit Pizza, sausage, onions, peppers, and olives. Often times, there will be multiple toppings on one pizza. […]

  2. […] New York or lived there, you probably heard of the “Brooklyn style pizza”. You already knew Detroit already had its own style of pizza, but never heard that Brooklyn also […]

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