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Detroit-style pizza is a style of pizza developed in Detroit, Michigan. It is a square pizza similar to Sicilian-style pizza that has a thick deep-dish crisp crust and toppings such as pepperoni and olives, and is served with the marinara sauce on top. The square shaped pizza is the result of being baked in a square pan, which is often not a pizza pan. Rather, industrial parts trays are often used, which were originally made to hold small parts in factories.
The crust of a Detroit-style pizza is noteworthy because in addition to occasionally being twice-baked, it is usually baked in a well-oiled pan to a chewy medium-well-done state that gives the bottom and edges of the crust a fried/crunchy texture. Some parlors will apply melted butter with a soft brush prior to baking. The resulting pizza has a warm, chewy texture that, when combined with the sauce and toppings, is intensely flavorful.
The origins of "Detroit-style" pizza can traced back historically to Buddy's Rendezvous. In 1936, Buddy's existed as a "blind pig," which as an establishment skirted the state and federal laws that governed the on-site sale and usage of alcohol. The owner at the time was August Gus Guerra. In 1944, Gus turned the blind pig into a legitimate tavern, but with World War II still raging, business was suffering. In 1946, Gus decided to add Sicilian style pizza to the menu. Soon the neighbors, and out-of-towners, were becoming hooked on Gus's unique recipe. The legend of Detroit's original square pizza was born. In 1953, Jimmy Bonacorse and Jimmy Valenti purchased Buddy's and its celebrated pizza recipe. Then, sixteen years later, William "Billy" and Shirlee Jacobs visited Buddy's and fell in love with it. In 1970, they bought it. Buddy's Pizza, is informally credited with being the original chain that serves Detroit-style pizza. Over the next several decades, the chain grew and developed, cooks moved on, and some cases they opened their own pizzerias. Cloverleaf, which was later founded by Gus Guerra as an Italian restaurant in Eastpointe, serves Detroit Style Pan Pizza as does Luigi's "the Original", Tower Inn in Ypsilanti, the Shield's Pizza chain and Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park. All of them are still thriving and each has its own loyal fan base. In 2009, both Buddy's Detroit-style square pizza and Luigi's "the Original" of Harrison Township, Mich were singled out as two of the 25 best pizzas in America by GQ magazine food critic, Alan Richman.
Niki's in Greektown, Little Caesars in Detroit, Jet's in Sterling Heights, Tower Inn in Ypsilanti, Papa Bella's in Ortonville, Green Lantern in Madison Heights, The Gathering Place & Marinelli's in Troy, and Detroit Style Pizza Company are among Detroit's unique specialty pizzerias offering deep dish pizza and or Detroit-style pizza in Southeast Michigan. The pizza at these restaurants is square or rectangular, with a thick crispy crust. Other restaurants that serve square specialty pizzas, similar to Detroit style, but more closely related to Sicilian style include Benito's Pizza, Cottage Inn, and Alibi in Troy. In April 2013, Detroit-based Little Caesars launched the first Detroit-style deep dish pizza that is available nationwide.
In recent years this style of pizza has seen a growth in popularity around the United States as native Detroiters have relocated to other cities. Outside of Detroit, Detroit-style pizza can be found in Austin, Texas, at Via 313 Pizza; Telluride, Colorado, at Brown Dog Pizza, which was founded by former Birmingham, Michigan, native and University of Michigan football player Jeff Smokevitch.; Boca Raton, Florida, at Grande & Augy's Pizza; Raleigh, North Carolina, at Klausie's Pizza; Las Vegas, Nevada, at Northside Nathan's; Columbia, Missouri, at Pizza Tree; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at Pizza Shuttle; Buffalo, Minnesota, at Norm's Wayside; and Louisville, Kentucky, at Loui Loui's Authentic Detroit Style Pizza.
Pizza companies based in Detroit
Southeast Michigan is also known as the headquarters of some of the largest pizza chains in the United States, including Domino's Pizza (Ann Arbor), Hungry Howies (Madison Heights), Jet's Pizza (Sterling Heights), and Little Caesars (Detroit). Of these, only Jet's specializes in Detroit-style pizza. Little Caesars began selling a square deep dish pizza nationally on April 1, 2013. Little Caesars is playing into a growing awareness and curiosity about the Detroit deep-dish pan pizza approach, noting that recent studies and an article in GQ magazine have mentioned Detroit-style pan pizzas favorably, in comparison with other approaches, such as Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas that are mostly round and often have stuffed crusts. Hungry Howie's also introduced square-cornered, deep-dish pizzas to its menu on April 1, 2013.
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