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Pizza report: New pies to try in downtown Detroit

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

It’s no secret that Detroit is a pizza town.

Not only is the area home to national chains like Little Caesars, Hungry Howie’s and Domino’s, we’ve also got local favorites such as Buddy’s, PizzaPapalis and Shield’s, each with many locations, plus Loui’s in Hazel Park and Eastern Market’s Supino Pizzeria.

In honor of National Pizza Month — which has been celebrated each October since 1984 by Pizza Today magazine — I wanted to take a look at some of the new pizza joints that have opened in downtown Detroit in the past year, because there are quite a few.

I can think of at least six new sit-down pizza spots that have opened recently, the cheesiest being Giordano’s at 1224 Randolph. It’s Chicago-style stuffed crust deep dish. Detroiters would liken it to PizzaPapalis, and it’s very similar to their dense, cheese-filled, layered pie, but I would say Papalis’ crust is more buttery and flaky than Giordano’s.

While there are many locations in Chicago, this is the first Giordano’s in Detroit. The heavy, deep-dish pies take a while to bake, so bring your patience if dining inside, otherwise call for a carryout. A time-conscious lunch menu is available with personal 6-inch pies that are quicker to cook.

Besides deep dish, hand-stretched thin crust, crispy extra thin crust and gluten free crust pizza, Giordano’s also has appetizers, salads, sandwiches and Italian entrees, plus desserts and a bar. Call the three-level restaurant at (313) 752-0441 or visit

A few blocks away, Pop + Offworld arcade and pizza bar recently opened above the longstanding Checker Bar at 124 Cadillac Square.

Take a break from playing Elvira pinball or Centipede to munch on a slice of wild gourmet pizza with toppings like pork rinds or fried garlic. Order a slice or get a whole pie. There are vegan options, too.

In Capitol Park, La Lanterna opened in April with years of restaurant history behind it. Da Edoardo restaurateur Edoardo Barbieri opened an earlier version of La Lanterna in the 1950s. His grandchildren have revived this spot, which serves Italian food including brick oven pizza.

La Lanterna, 1224 Griswold, is casual, but probably the most upscale on this list. Besides the smaller, Neapolitan-style pizza with white or red sauce, the restaurant also has soups, salads, pasta and a simple, but effective wine list.

Also making its debut in the spring, Brass Rail Pizza Bar is a new concept where Rub BBQ was at 18 W. Adams in Foxtown. Popular on days the Detroit Lions play Ford Field, Brass Rail has deep dish and regular round pizza, as well as smaller pies for one person.

Try a signature pie like the White Cheesy, which has mozzarella and feta cheese, plus bacon, banana peppers, pickled red onion atop a garlic cream sauce. Build your own pie with toppings such as arugula, squash, Brussels sprouts, and the usual like bacon, mushrooms and pineapple.

With dozens of beer on tap and plenty of televisions, Brass Rail is attractive to sports fans, as is Mike’s Pizza Bar at Little Caesars Arena, 2515 Woodward. The “Mike” in the name is the late Mike Illitch, who founded Little Caesars in Garden City decades ago. The hand-tossed pizza here is made in an open kitchen and comes as hand-stretched round pies or as deep dish. If you’re inside the arena, you can also order it by the slice.

More pizza can be found at the Press Room, a casual cafe in the former Detroit News building at 615 W. Lafayette.

Similar to the thin crust style of La Lanterna, the pizza (and pasta) menu at Press Room was curated by Fabio Viviani, an Italian chef who has competed on the Bravo show “Top Chef.”

So why the big influx of pizza? Because it’s familiar and delicious. I wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year there were a few more downtown pizzerias to add to this list.

Twitter: @melodybaetens