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What makes Detroit-style pizza so special

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Here in the Motor City, we’re well-versed in what “Detroit-style pizza” is, where it originated and why its crispy square crust is so craveable. 

The gospel of Motown's square slices — made famous by names like Buddy's, Cloverleaf, Jet's, Loui's, Shield's and others — has been spreading for a few years, with Detroit-style pizzerias opening outside of Michigan in New York, Pennsylvania and Denver. Some people even expressly give a nod to our city in their name, like Via 313 Pizzeria in Austin, Texas, and Motown Square Pizza in Washington, D.C. 

For subscribers: Detroit-style pizza is on the rise nationally; here's what makes it special

Pizza cook Garnett Thomas places pepperoni on a pizza at Buddy's  Pizza in Detroit, Monday, February 15, 2021.
Pizza cook Garnett Thomas places pepperoni on a pizza at Buddy's Pizza in Detroit, Monday, February 15, 2021.
Andy Morrison, The Detroit News

For the uninitiated, what makes Detroit-style pizza special, other than being made into a square or rectangle instead of round, is that it is baked in a deep pan and the cheese goes to the edge. Many pizza-makers in the city also put the red tomato sauce on top of the cheese, which helps keep the crust light and airy, but thick.

“We use Wisconsin brick cheese that we hand grind," says Buddy's Pizza CEO Burton Heiss. "It gives it an earthy flavor, a certain type of pull."

This year the brand is celebrating 75 years since founder Gus Guerra first began selling square pizza at Buddy’s Rendezvous bar in Detroit.

For subscribersBuddy's celebrates 75 years of Detroit-style pizza

“It’s a hand-crafted product,” Heiss says. “We’re not looking for, nor have we figured out, a way that you can take any short cuts."

Many Detroit-style pizza brands date back to the mid-20th century, like Buddy's and Cloverleaf, and modern favorites continue to sprout up around the region, offering a contemporary twist on the Motor City classic. 

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens 

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