We won’t proselytize once more simply how much better Detroit deep-dish pizza is than Chicago’s Sahara-dry brick of crust hollowed out just enough 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 catering menu. And sure, most outsiders don’t comprehend it, but Detroiters don’t need the validation of outsiders to be aware what the best thing they’ve got happening below. It might be stubborn in the effectiveness against the normal pizza form, playing fast and loose with the concept of “toppings” and the “order” where they carry on, however its uncompromising individualism is a component 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 pay for homage for 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 with a small amount of automotive history. Detroit may be its deep-dish pizza, but it is a lot more therefore the Motor City, and many local innovations within the last century are directly born from the automotive roots. Like our neighborhood-skewering freeways and vast swathes of parking lots. (Nobody said all innovation was inherently good.)
And so it is that, in 1946, Gus Guerra was trying to add new menu things 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 a friend who worked with 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 result of the heavy trays, much like cast iron skillets, employed 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 because of these repurposed trays.
Legend turns into a little shaky here, however the preferred version of local lore is 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 your silence and subsequent speculation. Either way, Detroit deep dish’s roots have been in Sicily, with the unique dough, sfincione, being more similar to a focaccia than what’s typically identified with pizza, which is apparently a defining characteristic about Detroit’s hot take on the subject. It defies what’s considered traditional.
Through the Sicilian dough and the rectangular trays, the toppings go directly on the top of the dough; the pizza will be piled over with higher-fat, semi-soft Wisconsin brick cheese up to the sides in the pan, melting over the sides from the crust and caramelizing, bubbling up nice brown at the top and melting in the center. It gets another layer of toppings following that, and, lastly, the ultimate touch: streaks of thick red sauce over top. The effect is actually a dense deep dish that also manages to be light mfpeyl airy, filled with flavor and plenty of the coveted corner pieces to visit around.
There is absolutely no dispute that Buddy’s — with 11 locations throughout Metro Detroit — was the originator, and the other local institutions who have made a good name for themselves making use of their own versions of Detroit jets hours did so through a point of cultural diffusion.
Just across the road from Buddy’s, the those who own Shield’s took notice with their 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 original Detroit location has disappeared). Tourtrois eventually moved on to open up his own pizzeria, Loui’s Pizza in Hazel Park, widely considered among locals to be the ideal of its class.