Owners Sal Basille and Francis Garcia - who run NYC's Artichoke Pizza franchise - say they became interested in Detroit-style pizza after a visit to Buddy's for their Cooking Channel show

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A new pizza joint in New York City – arguably one of the most serious pizza towns in the world – pays homage not to the Big Apple’s greasy slices, but to Detroit-style, deep dish pies. 

Lions & Tigers & Squares Detroit Pizza recently opened in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan serving square, deep dish pizza with a thick, crispy crust a la Buddy’s, Cloverleaf or Loui’s in Hazel Park. The name is a nod to two of the Motor City’s sports teams, and the restaurant’s décor pays homage to 1960s Detroit with Tiffany-style lights and Detroit-themed photos, including Motown groups. 

The owners aren’t Detroit natives, though. Sal Basille and Francis Garcia are cousins and friends who run New York City’s Artichoke Pizza franchise. The pair have been stars of two Cooking Channel travel shows — “Pizza Cuz,” and later, "Pizza Masters" — which brought them to Buddy’s Pizza in Detroit. They fell in love and couldn’t believe Detroit-style pizza wasn’t everywhere. Luckily their restaurant equipment supplier had just gotten Detroit-style pizza pans in stock.

“We went to Buddy’s Pizza and loved the legend of how Detroit pizza began there, how the pans were originally used for auto parts and the pizzas brought to the factories for lunch,” said Garcia in an email to The Detroit News. “Reminded us of our grandparents … how grandma used to make sandwiches for grandpa to take down to the piers and sell out of the trunk of his car during lunch hour.”

Basille said he was impressed with the Detroit pizzeria’s use of Wisconsin brick cheese. 

“We couldn’t believe the way it melted on the pizza,” he said. “The cheese finishes like a soufflé. Then topping the pizza with sauce AFTER it comes out of the oven … delicious.” 

Lions & Tigers & Squares Detroit Pizza, which is largely carry-out and doesn’t have much of a dining room, sells a half-dozen varieties of four-slice square pies: classic cheese, pepperoni, sausage and onion, mushroom, baby meatball and black olive ($10-$12). For a not-so-Detroit addition, pile on cherry peppers for an extra $2.

A critic from Eater NY praised the pizza, calling it a "detailed-oriented recreation" of Detroit-style pizza. 

Lions & Tigers & Squares Detroit Pizza is at 268 W. 23rd in New York City. Visit lionsandtigersandsquares.com.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com
Twitter: @melodybaetens

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