We won’t proselytize once again 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 because it is a revelation in Jets Pizza menu with prices. And sure, most outsiders don’t comprehend it, but Detroiters don’t require the validation of outsiders to be aware what the best thing they’ve got taking place on this site. It could be stubborn in the resistance to the typical pizza form, playing fast and loose with the idea of “toppings” as well as the “order” by which they carry on, however its uncompromising individualism is a component of the things can make it so damn enjoyable. Detroit is its deep-dish pizza, and also 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 which all other so-called “deep dish” pizzas aspire to: Detroit deep dish.
First, it starts off with some automotive history. Detroit might be its deep-dish pizza, yet it is much more and so the Motor City, and several local innovations over the past century are directly born from its automotive roots. Like our neighborhood-skewering freeways and vast swathes of parking lots. (No person said all innovation was inherently good.)
And so it is that, in 1946, Gus Guerra was looking to add new menu items to his struggling neighborhood bar, Buddy’s Rendezvous at 6 Mile and Conant, and acquired a couple of unused blue steel (not the Zoolander pose, the grade of steel) industrial utility trays from the friend who worked in a factory.
He thought the lipped trays would make a good Sicilian-style pizza, despite their rectangular shape. He happened to become right: all of the characteristics which make Detroit deep-dish pizza distinctively itself are the result 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 thanks to these repurposed trays.
Legend gets 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 that an old Sicilian dude named Dominic taught Guerra the “Sicilian way.” Blame the omert?ode of honor for your silence and subsequent speculation. Either way, 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 the Sicilian dough and the rectangular trays, the toppings go directly on top of the dough; the pizza will then be piled over with higher-fat, semi-soft Wisconsin brick cheese up to the sides of the pan, melting over the sides from the crust and caramelizing, bubbling up nice and brown on top and melting in the center. It gets another layer of toppings following that, and, lastly, the last touch: streaks of thick red sauce over top. The result is really a dense deep dish that also seems to be light mfpeyl airy, loaded with flavor and a lot 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, and the other local institutions who have produced a name for themselves making use of their own versions of Detroit jet’s pizza hours did so through a point 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 3 locations in the suburbs (the original Detroit location has disappeared). Tourtrois eventually moved on to open his very own pizzeria, Loui’s Pizza in Hazel Park, widely considered among locals to be the greatest of their class.