Detroit-style pizza featuring dollops of Ricotta

It’s Time to Consider Adding Detroit-style Pizza to your Menu

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.

To see this pizza style come to life, learn from three different operators in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Colorado who were inspired to start their own Detroit-style pizza restaurants paying homage to Detroit with their own spin. To find out how they got started and what makes their version so successful, watch the video here.

It’s more than just the shape that differentiates the Detroit-style pizza from other square pies. The thick, airy crust, caramelized cheese around the edges and sauce on top provides a unique texture and flavor experience unlike any other deep-dish inspired pizza.

If you are ready to add something new to your menu, 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.

Don’t let the strict guidelines for making an authentic Detroit-style pizza prevent you from experimenting with what can become your signature pie. Traditionally, mozzarella and brick are the cheeses of choice for this style of pizza. Try using Grande Mozzarella and Grande Mozzarella Cheddar blend for a perfect melt to help create the caramelized crust around the edges of the crust. And even though pepperoni was a traditional part of the pie, a vegetarian version will taste just as amazing.

Whether you’re thinking of adding a new style to your menu or offering this as an LTO, don’t wait too long before the competition starts to really kick in. Click here to view Grande’s Detroit-style pizza recipe, courtesy of Tony Gemignani’s International Pizza School, and request a tasting of our Mozzarella Cheddar Blend to fully test out the recipe.


*Datassential Menu Trends, 2020

Date: May 11, 2020
Category: Culinary Trends