We won’t proselytize once more just how much better Detroit deep-dish pizza is than Chicago’s Sahara-dry brick of crust hollowed out sufficient to pour in a tepid pool of marinara sauce. It totally is, but that’s not why we’re here.
Detroit deep-dish pizza is just as much a reflection of Detroit since it is a revelation in Jets Pizza menu 2020. And sure, most outsiders don’t understand it, but Detroiters don’t need the validation of outsiders to know what a good thing they’ve got happening right here. It might be stubborn in the potential to deal with the standard pizza form, playing fast and loose with the idea of “toppings” as well as the “order” by which they carry on, but its uncompromising individualism is an element of the things makes it so damn enjoyable. Detroit is its deep-dish pizza, and the deep-dish pizza is Detroit.
And so we’re here to cover homage to that most superior of deep-dish pizzas, the deep-dish pizza to which all the other so-called “deep dish” pizzas aspire to: Detroit deep dish.
First, it starts with a small amount of automotive history. Detroit could be its deep-dish pizza, however it is a lot more and so the Motor City, and several local innovations in the last century are directly born from its automotive roots. Like our neighborhood-skewering freeways and vast swathes of parking lots. (Nobody said all innovation was inherently good.)
So it is the fact, in 1946, Gus Guerra was trying to add new menu items to his struggling neighborhood bar, Buddy’s Rendezvous at 6 Mile and Conant, and acquired a few unused blue steel (not the Zoolander pose, the grade of steel) industrial utility trays from a friend who worked in a factory.
He thought the lipped trays makes a great Sicilian-style pizza, despite their rectangular shape. He happened to become right: each of the characteristics that will make Detroit deep-dish pizza distinctively itself are caused by the heavy trays, much like cast iron skillets, used to bake them. The crunchy exterior crust soaked through with oil and bubbled over with caramelized cheese, the soft and airy interior crust: it’s all thanks to these repurposed trays.
Legend receives a little shaky here, but the preferred version of local lore is the fact that Guerra’s wife Anna got the dough recipe for signature deep-dish pizza from her Sicilian mother. The alternative story is the fact that an older Sicilian dude named Dominic taught Guerra the “Sicilian way.” Blame the omert?ode of honor for the silence and subsequent speculation. In either case, Detroit deep dish’s roots are in Sicily, with the unique dough, sfincione, being more akin to a focaccia than what’s typically identified with pizza, which appears to be a defining characteristic about Detroit’s hot take on the subject. It defies what’s considered traditional.
From your Sicilian dough as well as the rectangular trays, the toppings go directly on top of the dough; the pizza is then piled over with higher-fat, semi-soft Wisconsin brick cheese up to the edges in the pan, melting within the sides in the crust and caramelizing, bubbling up nice brown on the top and melting in the middle. It gets another layer of toppings after that, and, lastly, the last touch: streaks of thick red sauce over top. The result is actually a dense deep dish that still seems to be light mfpeyl airy, loaded with flavor and lots of the coveted corner pieces to travel around.
There is no dispute that Buddy’s — now with 11 locations throughout Metro Detroit — was the originator, as well as the other local institutions that have produced a term for themselves with their own versions of Detroit storeholidayhours.org did so through a matter of cultural diffusion.
Just across the road from Buddy’s, the people who own Shield’s took notice of the competitor’s newfound popularity and hired away Buddy’s long-time chef, Louis Tourtrois Sr., to make their pies. Shield’s has since expanded to 3 locations in the suburbs (the first Detroit location has vanished). Tourtrois eventually moved on to start their own pizzeria, Loui’s Pizza in Hazel Park, widely considered among locals to be the greatest of its class.