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  • Writer's pictureJeff Mauldin

The Anatomy of a Detroit Style Pizza

The phenomenon began in 1946 shortly after World War II ended and the troops headed back to America with a newly acquired taste for European dishes. Owner of Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit, Gus Guerra, was eager to satisfy these cravings and set out to create a new kind of pizza. The Sicilian style dough was lined in a rectangular blue steel pan that had previously been used to store nuts and bolts at a local automotive factory. Unlike other pizzas, Gus placed pepperoni directly on the dough, followed by a generous helping of cheese spread to the edge, with a thick drizzle of red sauce on top. Hence, the authentic and original Detroit-style pizza was born.

While this pizza style has been around for nearly 75 years, it is just starting to become more prevalent across the country. In 2019, Detroit-style pizza was found on less than 1% of menus among Pizzerias and Italian restaurants with 25 or fewer units. However, this pizza style grew 66.5% on menus from 2015-2019 and is expected to continue to increase* as more people become more aware of its indulgent flavor and crunch.

Here are the five key characteristics to making an authentic Detroit-style pizza.

  • The Pan is square or rectangular, preferably a well-seasoned steel pan.

  • The Dough requires hydration levels between 65% and 75% to ensure proper texture after baking.

  • The Cheese should be spread edge-to-edge so it caramelizes on the crust when baking.

  • The Toppings are placed on top of the cheese, except for pepperoni, which traditionally lays directly on top of the crust before cheese is added.

  • The Sauce is the last ingredient, ladled on top before or after baking.

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