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My journey to Detroit-style pizza is personal.

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, pizza was a staple of my childhood. I had to have it. I had to have LOTS of it. One of my most vivid childhood memories is finally figuring out the location of my family’s local pizzeria. I was approximately eight years old, and while I remember it being a summer day, I thought it was Christmas.

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Where Denver food writers loved to eat in 2018.

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 Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant writers, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to the annual “Year in Eater” survey will be revealed in several posts this week. First up, the dining experts share their restaurant standbys from 2018.

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Denise Mickelsen, Food Editor, 5280 Magazine: The spots I regularly recommend (which is as close as I can get to repeat dining): Annette, Blue Pan, Comal, Q House, Smok, Safta, Call, 12@Madison, and Arcana.

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Blue Pan made the list of top 10 best gluten-free pizzerias in the country.

Gone are the days when going gluten-free meant a bleak future of tasteless meals. No matter the reason for forgoing wheat, diners can still tuck into one of America’s most popular comfort foods–pizza–at these 10 pizzerias offering gluten-free pies.

BLUE PAN PIZZA
Denver

Blue Pan in Denver specializes in Detroit-style pizzas, baked in rectangular pans with a caramelized crust. Any pie can be made gluten-free in both 13-inch round and small Detroit styles.
Photo courtesy of Blue Pan Pizza

 

FORNO ROSSO
Chicago

Any of the nearly two dozen types of Napoletana-style pizza from Forno Rosso in Chicago can be made gluten-free. Diners can choose between red or white pizzas, with toppings like prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, hot sopressata and pecorino romano cheese.
Photo courtesy of Forno Rosso / Facebook

RAZZI’S PIZZERIA, Seattle

  • Razzi’s Pizzeria in Seattle has a special menu for its gluten-free diners, with safe versions of appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, pizzas and calzones. Pizza lovers can choose between three crusts and several different sauces, as well as tons of topping options.
    Photo courtesy of Razzi’s Pizzeria

JULES THIN CRUST
Doylestown, Penn.

Certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group, Jules Thin Crust serves up gluten-free pizzas suitable for all gluten intolerant diners. Every staff member is trained in preventing cross contamination, and diners can choose between mini or medium pies. The gluten-free dough is also available to take home.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Seymour / Flickr

THE WILD TOMATO PIZZERIA
Harrisburg, Penn.

Everything from hoagies and grinders to pizzas can be made with The Wild Tomato’s gluten-free and vegan dough. These 12-inch pies come in six varieties, or diners can build their own with a range of meats, cheeses and toppings.
Photo courtesy of The Wild Tomato Pizzeria

BUDDY’S PIZZA
Detroit

Buddy’s has been serving up classic Detroit-style square pizza since 1946. Today, gluten-free diners can enjoy the Sicilian-style pies with tons of topping options on a gluten-free crust.
Photo courtesy of Buddy’s Pizza

CHICAGO’S PIZZA
Chicago

Chicago’s Pizza began offering their gluten-free pies in 2011. Using a made-from-scratch dough, this pizzeria makes deep dish pizzas, calzones and even focaccia rolls for diners avoiding gluten.
Photo courtesy of Chicago’s Pizza

PI PIZZERIA
St. Louis

Known for its deep dish and thin cornmeal crust pizzas, Pi Pizzeria makes their thin crust options gluten-free on request. Diners will also find gluten-free desserts and beers on the menu at Pi.
Photo courtesy of Pi Pizzeria

SENZA GLUTEN
New York

Everything coming out of the kitchen at Senza Gluten is made with 100 percent gluten-free ingredients, including the flatbread pizzas served on the lunch menu. A gluten-free cafe and bakery is set to open this month.
Photo courtesy of Senza Gluten

KESTÉ
New York

Kesté Pizza & Vino locations in both Fulton and Williamsburg offer a full gluten-free menu of appetizers and pizzas with a host of traditional Italian toppings.
Photo courtesy of Kesté

The top 10 winners in the category Best Gluten-Free Pizzeria are as follows:

  1. Forno Rosso – Chicago
  2. Razzi’s Pizzeria – Seattle
  3. Jules Thin Crust – Doylestown, Penn.
  4. The Wild Tomato Pizzeria – Harrisburg, Penn.
  5. Buddy’s Pizza – Detroit
  6. Chicago’s Pizza – Chicago
  7. Pi Pizzeria – St. Louis
  8. Senza Gluten – New York
  9. Kesté – New York
  10. Blue Pan Pizza – Denver

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Kim Koeller (Gluten & Allergy Free Passport) and Erin Smith (Gluten-Free Globetrotter) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of the country’s gluten-free food scene.

Congratulations to all these winning restaurants!

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If you ask your average New Yorker, all pizza falls into two basic categories: New York-style (i.e. real pizza) and everything else. But coming from Detroit – secretly one of the best pizza cities in the country – I know better.

Moving to New York in the late aughts was exciting. It meant 4 am last call, not having to worry about driving ever again, and – arguably most importantly – being able to get a decent slice 24 hours a day.

New York is – and I don’t say this lightly – the greatest pizza city on earth. Italy included. But until recently, it was missing one very important thing from its pizza landscape: Detroit-style pizza

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Emmy Squared changed all that when it opened in 2016, serving up as good – if not, gasp, better – of Detroit pizza as I could get back home. Emmy came in with an already highly regarded pizza pedigree, thanks to its wood-fired, thin-crust predecessor Emily. So right off the bat, New Yorkers began discovering Detroit pizza, even if they didn’t know that that’s what they were eating.

Similarly, ‘za lovers all over the country have started getting in on the same secret, with Austin’s Via 313 (three locations and counting) Denver’s Blue Pan, Chicago’s Union Squared and at Jet’s Pizza locations across the country.

And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll seek out Detroit pizza in your hometown. But first, you may be wondering, what is it?

Well, for the most part, Detroit pizza has a few key elements: it’s square (or rectangle), thanks to cooking in a steel pan; it has a burnt-cheese crust; the sauce is on top of the pie, and the dough is airy in the middle – and if the pizzeria knows what it’s doing, it will be crispy on the bottom.

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The pizza may hail from Detroit, but it has roots in Sicily, where bakeries in Palermo would sling trays of sfincione, focaccia-like bread topped with tomatoes, onions and occasionally a bit of cheese and/or anchovies. Sfincione is likely also where New-York style Sicilian pizza has roots, but while New York pizzerias started cranking out thick, dense, rectangular slices and called it Sicilian, Detroit stuck with a lighter, airier dough that lies somewhere between its focaccia-like ancestor and New York Sicilian.

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Detroit-style pies are heating up pizza ovens well beyond the Motor City.

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Real-deal Detroit pies use Wisconsin brick cheese, a semisoft variety that has the tang of cheddar but a higher fat content for optimum melt. 

Photography by Hunter Townsend

When it comes to pizza, are you Team Chicago or Team New York? Either way, get ready to suspend your loyalty: Detroit square pizza is a thing and it’s coming to a city near you.

Marked by its sauce-on-top construction, crispy fried-cheese edges, and surprisingly tender dough, the style is stretching outside the 313. Buddy’s Pizza, a Motown institution widely considered the originator of the style, is gearing up for a big-league expansion throughout the Midwest.

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Denver is home to Blue Pan Pizza, whose popularity spawned a second location last summer. And Austinites can get their fill of Detroit-style airy dough and caramelized crusts at Via 313, which opened its third outpost this year.

Thanks for making us look good, @lindakuehl!

A post shared by Via 313 Pizza (@via313) on

In NYC, pizza-centric restaurants, including Top Chef alum Dale Talde’s Massoni and Matt Hyland’s Emmy Squared also packing in seekers of square pies. “I think Detroit style clicks with people because it has so many things everyone loves about the pizza they grew up with, but it’s a little bit different,” says Hyland.

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Artichoke Basille’s Pizza—a popular chain with outposts in California, Florida, and New York—is the latest to get in on the tasty trend. The brand will debut a square-focused joint, dubbed Lions and Tigers and Squares (get it?), which will serve Detroit pan pies and Coney dogs when it opens in Manhattan.

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Michigan Dem: Detroit-style pizza 'sweeping the nation'

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) fired back at Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday in an ongoing argument over which style of U.S. pizza reigns supreme, declaring that Detroit-style pies are “sweeping the nation.”

“Don’t get too saucy. Detroit-style is what’s sweeping the nation,” Peters tweeted in response to Murphy’s claim that pizza from places other than New York, New Jersey or Connecticut “is not real pizza.”

Peters’s tweet linked to a glowing review of Detroit-style pizza published by “Food & Wine” magazine.

The congressional battle over regional styles of pizza kicked off on Tuesday, when a Roll Call reporter posed the question of whether people “ACTUALLY think Chicago pizza is better than New Haven pizza.”

That elicited a dismissive response from Murphy, who flatly declared that pizza from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is the only true form of the dish.

“Pizza from anywhere other than CT, NY, and NJ is not real pizza,” Murphy tweeted. “Everyone knows this.”

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) hit back at Murphy’s claim, waving off pizza from Murphy’s home state as having “more in common with cheese and crackers than it does with real pizza.”

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Customers across the country are digging the “red top”

Across the country, Detroit-style pizza is gaining popularity, even in markets like New York and Chicago that often shun an outsider’s pie.

The popularity of the “red top,” a nickname for the pies that are finished with sauce, is coinciding with the revival of the Motor City itself. Whatever the reason, the square — actually rectangular — pan-baked pies with caramelized cheese on the crust, which borrow from Sicilian and Chicago-style pizzas, are gaining fans as restaurants around the country put their own spin on the recipe.

When it comes to Detroit-style pizza, many point to Buddy’s, a classic 72-year-old institution in Detroit, as the source of their inspiration. Buddy’s, also, is capitalizing on the sudden demand for Detroit-style pies.

In January, CapitalSpring, a restaurant-focused private-investment firm, announced that it had invested “significant capital” into the chain to accelerate new store growth.

“This partnership is a significant opportunity for us to introduce Buddy’s iconic pizza, rich culture and community roots to new customers in Detroit and beyond,” said Robert Jacobs, CEO of Buddy’s, in a statement.

But Buddy’s will find that many of the operators it influenced might be now competitors.

Generally Detroit pizza concepts are full service, but the style is becoming increasingly popular in food halls, like Federal Galley in Pittsburgh, run by Galley Group.

“We try to pick concepts that fill a gap in whichever market we are in, and Pittsburgh definitely doesn’t have many Detroit-style pizza concepts,” said Galley Group co-founder Ben Mantica. Michigan & Trumbull, a restaurant serving Detroit-style pies for $10 to $17, resides in his company’s new food hall.

Detroit memorabilia at Pi-Squared’s Spartanburg, SC, location

 Karen Rampey isn’t from Detroit, but she was inspired by Buddy’s on a trip. She started her brand, Pi-Squared, in 2016 and now runs two locations. The brand also has one franchised unit. All three are in North and South Carolina.

To develop her pies, Rampey experimented with different doughs and cheese. She decided on Grande’s mozzarella. The cheese is an important part of a Detroit pie, she explained, because “you purposely push the cheese to the edge of the pan, so they actually caramelize.”

The interior of Pi-Squared locations are decorated with Detroit memorabilia, and said Rampey, “We hope we’re part of the process of giving Detroit a good name.”

Although Rampey serves traditional wood-fire pizza too, a majority of the customers go for the Detroit-style pies, which range from $9 to $16. But she admits she does have to explain to customers what makes Detroit-style different.

Even closer to the pie’s origins, customers are sometimes confused, said Simon Joseph, the managing partner and executive chef at Just in Time Hospitality out of Traverse City, Mich. Joseph opened Alley’s Market, a neighborhood convenience store and Detroit-style pizza shop in June 2017.

Alley’s Market pizza to go

“We do have to explain the pizza on occasion,” Joseph said. “We have studied the history of D-style, and if someone wants to know more, our staff can give them the works.”

Alley’s Market’s pies range from $12 to $19, with most of his business done in carry out. Joseph is adding delivery next month.

In New York, hand-tossed, thin-crust pizza is king, but Matt Hyland wasn’t afraid to bring a different pie to the people.

“I am from New York and I love all pizzas — both round and square!” he said.

Pizza Loves Emily restaurant group, which Hyland owns with his wife, Emily, started with the more familiar Neapolitan-style pizza at Emily Brooklyn, which opened in 2014.  Two years later they brought Detroit-style to the Big Apple with Emmy Squared, also in Brooklyn. They then opened Emily West Village, a hybrid of the two restaurants.

The group has recently opened an Emmy Squared location in Nashville, with another set to open in Manhattan soon. Pies, including some funky flavors like the Hula Hog, a white pie with mozzarella, bacon, pineapple and pickled jalapeños, range from $16 to $22.

Emmy Squared Brooklyn

For the owners of Michigan & Trumbull in Pittsburgh’s Federal Galley food hall, it was Emmy Squared that convinced them that Detroit-style pies could have broad appeal.

“It was an eye-opener to see a restaurant serving Detroit-style pizza in NYC and to be that successful,” said co-owner Kristen Calverley. “The reaction has been overwhelming. You have the occasional guest who believes their pizza is burnt because of the caramelized cheese crust, but in general, the feedback has been super positive and really encouraging for us.”

With five units, Austin-based Via 313 is one of the more established restaurants introducing customers to Detroit-style pizza.

The brand got its start by serving pies out of a trailer in 2009. Today the average check at the trailers, which have a limited menu, is $17. At their restaurants, it’s $37.

“We realized early on that we were taking a risk bringing this type of pizza to Austin, and then calling it Detroit style was another risk,” said Zane Hunt, a Detroit native who founded Via 313 with his brother Brandon. “Brandon and I stood outside of our first trailer location many nights handing out samples to folks walking by.  We made the decision to call it Detroit style in order to generate curiosity and give our home city the due it had long deserved.”

When Hunt brought Detroit-style pies to Austin, he saw a “vacancy in the marketplace for not only square pizza but really any kind of pizza other than New York style.”

Bringing Detroit-style pizza to Chicago was a different story.

Detroit-style pies at Union Squared

Union Restaurant Group chef and partner Vince DiBattista started by offering regulars a taste of Detroit-style pizza at his restaurant, Union Pizzeria, located just outside of Chicago in Evanston. Although the restaurant serves Italian small plates and wood-fired Neapolitan pies, customers were familiar with a deep dish, this being Chicago after all.

“What I found was that a lot of people are reluctant because they have their idea of deep dish pizza,” he said. “They don’t expect until they taste it that it’s going to be so different. That’s the reaction that I like seeing. I like watching people experiencing it and enjoying it for the first time. It can be light and fluffy and crispy.”

After positive reviews, DiBattista opened Union Squared in Revival Food Hall in Chicago, which serves Detroit-style pies and slices, a rarity for this style of pizza, and shortly after opened a Union Squared location in Evanston.

At the food hall, many customers buy the giant slice — really half a pie — for $10, while at the Evanston location, carryout is the focus with pies sold for about $25 each.

Now DiBattista is set to open another restaurant in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. Union Full Board, with a menu that combines Detroit-style pies along with Italian dishes. Here, DiBattista imagines the Detroit-style pies could be ordered as an appetizer to share with a group.

Detroit-style pizza has “a momentum behind it,” said DiBattista, citing the pizza’s popularity on Instagram.

Hunt from Via 313 sees humor in his hometown pizza’s newfound celebrity.

“It’s ironic that it is indeed a trend when there is really nothing trendy about it,” he said. “This pizza has been made for over 70 years in the Detroit area. But we live in a sort of peak food culture or climate. Things ranging from basic to fancy in the culinary world get hot and trendy all of the time.  Whether it stays being viewed as trendy or not, I do think that Detroit-style pizza is here to stay and will continue to grow nationwide because pizza doesn’t ever really go out of style.”

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The Ten Best Pizza Places in Denver — 2018 Edition

A classic Detroit-style pan, complete with stripes of sauce.

A classic Detroit-style pan, complete with stripes of sauce.
Paul Joyner Photography

Blue Pan Pizza
3930 West 32nd Avenue, 720-456-7666
3509 East 12th Avenue, 720-519-0944

Who knew that Denver would embrace Detroit-style pizza when Blue Pan Pizza debuted in 2015 in West Highland? Under the focused eye of chef and co-founder Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch (who now runs two Blue Pan locations with partner Giles Flanagin), the cozy pizzeria starts with a traditional base — an airy, crackly crust, Wisconsin brick cheese and a thick, tangy sauce — and adds toppings that modern customers crave, from paper-thin folds of prosciutto and fresh piles of arugula to burrata, green chiles and Tender Belly bacon. Beyond the Detroit-style pies, Blue Pan also offers award-winning Italian thin-crust, an even thinner Chicago cracker crust, and big slices of New York-style pizza.

Read the full article here!

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Video to make your mouth water: National Pizza Day

 

DENVER — Melted cheese with thick spicy sauce and the aroma of fresh basil … and that crust. You can almost taste it just by the sound when it breaks.

Friday was National Pizza Day. There are as many styles of pizza as there are toppings. We bring you three pizza joints from the Denver metro area that are sure to tickle your pallet and pizza passion.

In 1973 in Idaho Springs, Colorado, a small little pizza operation called Beau Jo’s made the scene. With their famous, and thick, hand made, fresh daily mountain pie. The crust is so thick that they serve their pizza with honey so you can have dessert as well.

From Mile High to Motown, welcome to Blue Pan Pizzeria in the Highlands in Denver. Their specialty? Detroit style pizza. Thick,  twice baked crust served in square pans is sure to please.

From Detroit to the Big Apple. Bill Ficke’s New York style pizza in Centennial has been an authentic one stop shop to satisfy your craving for the pie you fold before you devour.

Which one do we love most? Pizza is like our kids, they’re all different but we love them all the same!

See the story here!

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eat-here

Blue Pan Pizza

3930 West 32nd Avenue, 720-456-7666
3509 East 12th Avenue, 720-519-0944
bluepandenver.com

Who knew that Denver would embrace Detroit-style pizza when Blue Pan Pizza debuted in 2015 in West Highland? Under the focused eye of chef and co-founder Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch (who now runs two Blue Pan locations with partner Giles Flanagin), the cozy pizzeria starts with a traditional base — an airy, crackly crust, Wisconsin brick cheese and a thick, tangy sauce — and adds toppings that modern customers crave, from paper-thin folds of prosciutto and fresh piles of arugula to burrata, green chiles and Tender Belly bacon. Beyond the Detroit-style pies, Blue Pan also offers award-winning Italian thin-crust, an even thinner Chicago cracker crust, and big slices of New York-style pizza.

Read the complete article here.

Our blog

08
Jan

Motor City Memories

My journey to Detroit-style pizza is personal. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, pizza was a staple of my childhood. I had to have it. I had to have LOTS of it. One of my most vivid childhood memories is finally figuring out the location of my family’s local pizzeria. I was approximately eight […]

31
Dec

Where Denver food writers loved to eat in 2018.

Where Denver food writers loved to eat in 2018.  Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant writers, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to the annual “Year in Eater” survey will be revealed in several posts this week. First up, the […]

13
Aug

Blue Pan made the list of top 10 best gluten free pizzerias in the country. Thank you to all who voted!

Blue Pan made the list of top 10 best gluten-free pizzerias in the country. Gone are the days when going gluten-free meant a bleak future of tasteless meals. No matter the reason for forgoing wheat, diners can still tuck into one of America’s most popular comfort foods–pizza–at these 10 pizzerias offering gluten-free pies. BLUE PAN […]

18
Jun

How Detroit secretly created the best pizza you’ve never tasted

If you ask your average New Yorker, all pizza falls into two basic categories: New York-style (i.e. real pizza) and everything else. But coming from Detroit – secretly one of the best pizza cities in the country – I know better. Moving to New York in the late aughts was exciting. It meant 4 am last call, not […]

18
May

The Detroit-Style Pizza Trend Proves It’s Hip to Be Square

Detroit-style pies are heating up pizza ovens well beyond the Motor City. CHRISTINA IZZO MAY 16, 2018 Real-deal Detroit pies use Wisconsin brick cheese, a semisoft variety that has the tang of cheddar but a higher fat content for optimum melt.  Photography by Hunter Townsend When it comes to pizza, are you Team Chicago or […]

26
Apr
The Hill Online

Michigan Dem: Detroit-style pizza ‘sweeping the nation’

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) fired back at Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday in an ongoing argument over which style of U.S. pizza reigns supreme, declaring that Detroit-style pies are “sweeping the nation.” “Don’t get too saucy. Detroit-style is what’s sweeping the nation,” Peters tweeted in response to Murphy’s claim that pizza from places other than New York, New […]

25
Apr
Restaurant Hospitality

Detroit-style pizza finds its niche outside Motor City

Customers across the country are digging the “red top” Across the country, Detroit-style pizza is gaining popularity, even in markets like New York and Chicago that often shun an outsider’s pie. The popularity of the “red top,” a nickname for the pies that are finished with sauce, is coinciding with the revival of the Motor […]

09
Mar

The Ten Best Pizza Places in Denver — 2018 Edition

The Ten Best Pizza Places in Denver — 2018 Edition A classic Detroit-style pan, complete with stripes of sauce. Paul Joyner Photography Blue Pan Pizza 3930 West 32nd Avenue, 720-456-7666 3509 East 12th Avenue, 720-519-0944 Who knew that Denver would embrace Detroit-style pizza when Blue Pan Pizza debuted in 2015 in West Highland? Under the focused eye […]

14
Feb

Fox 31 Visted Blue Pan for National Pizza Day!

Video to make your mouth water: National Pizza Day   DENVER — Melted cheese with thick spicy sauce and the aroma of fresh basil … and that crust. You can almost taste it just by the sound when it breaks. Friday was National Pizza Day. There are as many styles of pizza as there are […]

08
Nov

Eat Here: 100 Restaurants We Can’t Live Without

Blue Pan Pizza 3930 West 32nd Avenue, 720-456-7666 3509 East 12th Avenue, 720-519-0944 bluepandenver.com Who knew that Denver would embrace Detroit-style pizza when Blue Pan Pizza debuted in 2015 in West Highland? Under the focused eye of chef and co-founder Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch (who now runs two Blue Pan locations with partner Giles Flanagin), the cozy […]

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