Detroit-style pizza, best known for its rectangular shape and thick caramelized cheese crust, is gaining traction on the East Coast.
Among its fans are Francis Garcia and Sal Basille, the cousins behind the New York-based chain Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, who have opened Lions & Tigers & Squares, a Detroit-style pizzeria with locations in Chelsea and the East Village in Manhattan.
“It’s cooked with the cheese on it, sauce put on after,” said Garcia of the Midwestern pan-pizza. “It’s a totally different mouthfeel.”
Among the offerings by the square slice are varieties such as classic cheese, made with caramelized cheddar crust (made with Wisconsin “brick” cheddar cheese that accounts for the pie’s signature greasiness) topped with thick tomato sauce, and more unusual flavor combinations, such as the cousins’ take on Detroit mustard pie, made with caramelized cheese crust topped with corned beef, sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard.
Thick, cheesy Detroit-style pizza also comes to the East Coast via Emmy Squared, a new concept from the team at New York-based Pizza Loves Emily.
“I’ve been an American pizza eater since I was a kid,” said owner Emily Hyland. “I’ve always enjoyed eating pizza cooked in pans, mostly New York Sicilian.”
With Emmy Squared locations in New York, Nashville, Tenn., and Philadelphia, Hyland says she tried to be “emblematic” of the Detroit-style, using traditional metal pans, proofing the dough in the pans, and making the pies super cheesy with cheddar to achieve the “frico” crust, a caramelization of the cheese and dough, which she says is her favorite part of the pizza. But Hyland also has fun with non-traditional toppings, with offerings such as The Emmy, with banana peppers, red onions, ranch and side sauce ($21) and Angel Pie, with ricotta, mushrooms and Truffleist mushroom cream ($24).
In contrast, at her Pizza Loves Emily concept offers a traditional stretched dough, super-thin cooked well done, akin to New Haven-style pizza, which is known for its coal-fired thin crust that locals call “apizza.”
“You can never have enough pizza,” said Hyland. “We’ve all been drawn to pizza. It’s just a long-standing, archetypical, American experience.”