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 as it is a revelation in Jets menu. And sure, most outsiders don’t comprehend it, but Detroiters don’t require the validation of outsiders to know what the best thing they’ve got happening below. It could be stubborn in its resistance to the typical pizza form, playing fast and loose with the idea of “toppings” as well as the “order” where they carry on, however its uncompromising individualism is an element of the items 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 particular 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 off with a little bit of automotive history. Detroit could be its deep-dish pizza, yet it is a lot more and so the Motor City, and many local innovations in the last century are directly born from its automotive roots. Like our neighborhood-skewering freeways and vast swathes of parking lots. (No one said all innovation was inherently good.)
So it is the fact, in 1946, Gus Guerra was seeking to add new menu things 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 be right: all the characteristics that will make Detroit deep-dish pizza distinctively itself are the consequence of the heavy trays, similar to 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 due 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 his or her signature deep-dish pizza from her Sicilian mother. The alternative story is the fact that an old Sicilian dude named Dominic taught Guerra the “Sicilian way.” Blame the omert?ode of honor for that silence and subsequent speculation. In either case, Detroit deep dish’s roots are in Sicily, using the unique dough, sfincione, being more akin to a focaccia than what’s typically identified with pizza, which seems to be a defining characteristic about Detroit’s hot take on the subject. It defies what’s considered traditional.
Through the Sicilian dough as well as the rectangular trays, the toppings go directly on the top of the dough; the pizza will be piled over with high-fat, semi-soft Wisconsin brick cheese all the way to the edges from the pan, melting on the sides in the crust and caramelizing, bubbling up nice and brown at the top and melting in the center. It gets another layer of toppings next, and, lastly, the ultimate touch: streaks of thick red sauce over top. The end result is a dense deep dish that also seems to be light mfpeyl airy, loaded with flavor and plenty of the coveted corner pieces to travel around.
There is no dispute that Buddy’s — with 11 locations throughout Metro Detroit — was the originator, and the other local institutions who have created a name for themselves with their own versions of Detroit jets pizza hours of operation did so through a matter of cultural diffusion.
Just across the street from Buddy’s, the owners of Shield’s took notice with their competitor’s newfound popularity and hired away Buddy’s long-time chef, Louis Tourtrois Sr., to help make their pies. Shield’s has since expanded to three locations in the suburbs (the original Detroit location has disappeared). Tourtrois eventually progressed to open up his own pizzeria, Loui’s Pizza in Hazel Park, widely considered among locals to be the greatest of its class.