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From Motor City to mainstream: Why is Detroit-style pizza trending?

A new Yelp survey shows Detroit-style pizza searches surging 26% from 2022 to 2023 among elite reviewers.
Posted at 3:19 PM, Mar 08, 2024

Sizzling in a rectangular pan and sliced into impeccable squares, each boasting irresistibly crispy cheesy corners: Detroit-style pizza is taking over America. 

The iconic pie originated at a Buddy’s Pizza location on Detroit’s Eastside in 1946 when the former restaurant owner borrowed rectangular steel pans from local automobile plants. 

On a recent visit to the original Buddy’s location, Joe Dominiak, the company’s chief operating officer, told Scripps News how the invention "took pizza from round to square. And brought out the true grit of the automotive industry." 

In the 1940s, rectangular steel trays were commonplace inside Detroit’s auto factories, used to collect dripping oil. Nearly 80 years later, the recipe remains the same, starting early in the morning with an intricate dough-making process. 

"New York style, they just kind of roll it out, throw it up in the air, flatten it out and boom. Our dough is a good 4.5-hour process before it makes it into the oven,” Dominiak explained. 

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Once the dough has been mixed, balled and stretched, it’s pre-topped with cheese and sometimes pepperoni to allow “those flavors to seep into the crust,” before being left alone to proof for a few hours. 

Then, it's brought up to the kitchen, where it's layered with more brick Wisconsin cheese all the way to the edges to achieve the pie's trademark caramelized crust. 

You can add as many toppings as you want but you've got to place them all under the sauce — a unique feature of Detroit-style pizza. 

"Our sauce is used to help move with the cheese so that it blends into the pizza. And you get sauce in everywhere," Dominiak said. 

It's a unique pizza that is gaining popularity nationwide. A new Yelp survey shows Detroit-style pizza searches surging 26% from 2022 to 2023 among elite reviewers. 

The surge in popularity is fueled by Detroiters moving out of town and yearning for a slice of home. 

As a result, Dominiak tells Scripps News that Buddy’s Pizza, a popular chain in Michigan, now has plans to soon expand beyond the Mitten State to bring the original, blue-collar pie from the Motor City to pizza aficionados nationwide. 

"I love New York-style pizza, but there is nothing like Detroit-style," said Dominiak. 

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