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blue pan pizza detroit style pizza

Courtesy of Paul Joyner

Unless you’re lucky enough to hail from Detroit, in which case you already know.

David Landsel

November 01, 2017

You never forget your first Detroit-style pizza. Mine was at Buddy’s, one of the oldest pizzerias in the Motor City. Sitting at the corner of Conant and McNichols, deep inside a particularly hard-bitten section of Detroit‘s East Side, Buddy’s, housed in a squat nothing of a building, is distinguished only from its sparse surroundings by the fact that it remains in business.

Beginning life as a speakeasy in the 1940’s, founder Gus Guerra began selling unique, square pies, and the rest is decades of history. Past the fence, the security guard in the parking lot, past the cinderblock walls, you enter via a long tunnel, decorated with yellowed news clippings. In a room without windows, guests are warmly welcomed; there’s probably a group of people down at the bar, no matter what time of day—it’s best to head down in that direction.

I had no idea what to expect on the first visit, I only knew I was eating at one of the Detroit’s best pizza places—what came out was something like the Sicilian pies that I grew up around in New York, but made, apparently, with double the attention to detail.

The airy, savory crust supported a generous but sensible amount of brick cheese, the whole thing buried under a pool of fragrant marinara. The cheese seeped out, baking into the porous crust, resulting in a crispy little miracle. The pie was composed of four, considerable squares, served up in a deep but not too deep, angled, industrial-strength steel pan—these were appropriated, originally, from the local assembly plants. I think I paid just a few bucks, and distinctly remember sharing. On subsequent visits, I knew to order a whole pie for myself. Or, at the very least, to double up and order the eight slice edition.

Buddy’s at Conant and McNichols is not only still there; it has, over the years, spawned a whole chainlet of Buddy’s locations, scattered around Metro Detroit like so much shredded cheese. (The original, you will probably not be surprised to learn, is by far the best.) There are other places for Detroit-style pies that are terrific, too—the deliciously vintage Loui’s, just to the north in the working-class suburb of Hazel Park, for starters. There’s Cloverleaf, another old-time brand that’s morphed into a chainlet, you can even just order takeout or delivery from places like Jet’s Pizza. (Your first pie, however, should not be eaten on a couch at home—it should be experienced at Loui’s, or Buddy’s; when eating a piece of Detroit history, it’s best to be surrounded by more of the same.)

Or, maybe you can’t get to Detroit, at all—after years of people asking why isn’t this a thing, everywhere, Detroit-style pizza has kind of become, well, a thing. Not everywhere—we’re not so lucky, not just yet—but in some surprising places, absolutely. Here are just a few of the best places to try one of the best pizza styles in the world, whether the world knows it (yet) or not.

Read the complete article here.

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Clockwise from top left: Blue Pan Pizza’s Brooklyn Bridge; Enzo’s End Pizzeria’s Spinaci; Pizzeria Lui’s Lawn Boy; a seasonal pie from Brava! Pizzeria & Cafe. Photo by Aaron Colussi

Blue Pan Pizza

Blue Pan Pizza opened a spacious second location in Congress Park in August (the original is in Highland) to feed the growing horde of fans clamoring for its pan-baked, crispy-cheese-edged, fluffy-crusted, rectangular Detroit-style pies. Order the Brooklyn Bridge, topped with pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella, brick cheese, pecorino, and creamy whipped ricotta, and you’ll get the hype.
Slices: Yes
Delivery: Yes; also through Postmates
3930 W. 32nd Ave., 720-456-7666; 3509 E. 12th Ave., 720-456-7666

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Best for Detroit-style pies
Yes, this place serves other kinds of pizza (you’ll find New York, Italian, and Chicago-style pies on the menu), but that’s not what you’re here for. The specialty from award-winning pizzaiolo Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch is the addictive Detroit-style pies which transform often-trashed crust into the cheesy, caramelized highlight of your pizza eating experience. Pair it with a Colorado craft beer and give yourself a pat on the back for being so damn smart with your life decisions.
blue pan atlanta
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Blue Pan’s second location opened last night.

Blue Pan Pizza Opens in Congress Park

The beloved pizzeria opened the doors to its new outpost last night—and the house was packed.

BY  | 

There’s a lot going on in Congress Park dining these days (Sweet Cooie’s and 12@Madison are prime examples), as Denver restaurateurs cater to the densely packed residential neighborhood and its hordes of hungry families. And as of last night, Blue Pan Pizza has entered the fray.

Co-owners Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin signed the lease for the 12th Avenue space, formerly home to the Mindful Bike, back in May 2016, but building permits and construction were slow-going. Finally, the wait is over… or is it? As of 6 p.m. last night, there was a 45-minute wait for one of the 42 seats in the new space, a sign of how excited neighborhood residents are that Blue Pan is now slinging its fluffy Detroit-, New York-, Italian-, and cracker-thin Chicago-style pies.

Blue Pan Pizza
Congress Park residents flocked to Blue Pan last night, ready to choose from the 20 beers on tap and dig into some ’za.

Flanagin shared with us that he, Smokevitch, and their team are overwhelmed and overjoyed by the outpouring of community support. “The amount of people stopping by and saying hi, introducing themselves, and just communicating all this positive energy—we’re blown away. It’s off the charts.”

There are two new dishes on the outpost’s menu: fried arancini (risotto balls) served with housemade marinara for dipping and an Italian-style white pie with a whipped ricotta base.

Possibly even more exciting for Congress Park families: Not only can kids literally assemble their own pizzas—Blue Pan’s cooks stretch the dough, but little ones can spread on the sauce and top the pizza to their liking—but if you ask, the Blue Pan team will happily take any guest on an informal kitchen tour and even show off the different doughs fermenting in the basement. Such engaging hospitality (and those tasty pizzas) should go a long way in Congress Park.

Read the article here!

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Congress Park Gets Square Deal: Blue Pan Pizza

Congress Park is in for a square deal: Tonight, Blue Pan Pizza will start serving its deep-dish, Detroit-style pizza at a second location, 3509 East 12th Avenue. Founded by Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin, Blue Pan has been up and running at 3930 West 32nd Avenue since June 2015, and this year it won our award for Best Pizzeria.

While dinner at the original Blue Pan is a tight squeeze, the new pizzeria is considerably more spacious and boasts a larger kitchen with additional oven decks. That means there’s been room to expand the menu: Smokevitch points to a new white pizza with a ricotta-based sauce, as well as an arancini appetizer stuffed with Wisconsin brick cheese, rice and artichoke hearts. The bar has expanded, too, with twenty tap handles and a deep wine list.

Blue Pan's new white pizza served on an Italian crust.EXPAND

Blue Pan’s new white pizza served on an Italian crust.
Mark Antonation

For east-side residents new to the Blue Pan experience, the star on the menu is the Detroit-style pie, baked at high temperature in a high-sided steel pan. The crust that results is crunchy and airy, unlike breadier Sicilian pizza, and the cheese goes all the way to the edge of the pan, creating a caramelized rim that aficionados claim is the best part of a slice.

But Blue Pan also turns out a thin, crisp, Italian-style crust; an even thinner Chicago cracker-thin crust;  and a floppy New York-style pie with an impressive 22-inch diameter. You can order house combinations designed specifically for each style or can wing it with a selection of choose-your-own toppings. The Italian and Detroit pizzas are available in gluten-free versions; the Detroit-style, in particular, is a standout for gluten-free diners.

The Detroit-style pie can be ordered gluten-free.EXPAND

The Detroit-style pie can be ordered gluten-free.
Mark Antonation
Outside the new Blue Pan, Congress Park residents can take a small step into the dining room.EXPAND

Outside the new Blue Pan, Congress Park residents can take a small step into the dining room.

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Denver was definitely ready for the arrival of Detroit-style pies when Blue Pan Pizza opened at 3930 West 32nd Avenue in the summer of 2015. The tiny shop has been hopping since day one, and business partners Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin knew almost immediately that there was enough demand for a second location. Last May, they announced that they’d be building a new restaurant in a former bike shop at 3509 East 12th Avenue in Congress Park, and now that second Blue Pan is nearly ready for its debut.

Flanagin says that he and pizza-chef Smokevitch are shooting for an early August opening; interior construction appears to be on pace to meet that goal. Highlights of the new spot include bi-fold front windows that open like airplane hangar doors, creating small awnings at the front of store; exposed Douglas fir ceiling beams that have been restored through weeks of sanding and varnishing; and a curvaceous ten-seat bar created by Turcotte Design & Build, which also did the interior work for the original Blue Pan.

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While building a new restaurant in a decades-old building has proved challenging, the property is owned by Larimer Associates, veterans in restaurant development who have helped smooth the way. Even the least sexy details of the build-out, like the state-of-the-art grease traps that had to be installed within the building’s footprint because they can’t be on surrounding city property, were taken into account.

The new Blue Pan takes shape at 12th and Madison.

The new Blue Pan takes shape at 12th and Madison.- Mark Antonation

But Flanagin is just as excited about the food as he is with the details of construction. “We’re going to open with the same menu, but we hope to add some different pizza styles in six to twelve months,” he explains. A big new kitchen with two four-deck German Matador ovens will help make that a reality. And a spacious basement will house a walk-in cooler, prep stations, wine cellar and a high-tech dough mixer that reduces friction so that the dough maker can control the exact temperature as mixing takes place.

Smokevitch has won multiple awards on the international competitive pizza circuit and also runs Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride. In addition to square Detroit-style pizza, he also specializes in New York-style, classic Italian, Chicago cracker-thin, and gluten-free versions of the Detroit and Italian styles.

The two owners are keeping their ideas for new pizza styles under wraps for now, but Flanagin says early tastings have been off the charts.

The new Blue Pan will be open daily from 4 to 10 p.m. initially; lunch Thursday through Sunday will be added several weeks after the opening date.

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16388292_10211941979730661_7826937137460018181_nDENVER — When it comes to pizza, most people have a preferred style, and Denver doesn’t disappoint with a wide variety from Detroit to Chicago to New York and more.

We took a look at some of the top pizzerias in the city and we think your taste buds will be happy. Check out our list below.

1. Brooklyn’s Finest Pizza
5007 Lowell Blvd.

As the name suggests, this is a New York-style pizzeria. Pizzas on the menu include the “Brooklyn Bomber,” “Grand Central,” “The Godfather” and “Times Square.”

Reviewers say: “Being a native NYer, we know Pizza and this place is a little slice of home Everytime we order!” – Brian M.

2. Blue Pan Pizza
3930 W. 32nd Ave.

Blue Pan touts itself as “authentic Detroit-style pizza.” Don’t know what that is? The deep-dish pizzas are baked in a rectangular pan and have a caramelized crust.

Reviewers say: “The dough is perfect, (Not too thick like that Chicago crap), the sauce is both slightly acidic and sweet – blended perfectly and the pepperonis buckle up like they’re supposed to and hold the grease!  This is a Damn good pie!” – Dunkin W.

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We are extremely honored that TastingTable.com chose us as the best pizzeria in Colorado and one of the 26 best in the country that they showcase in this great article.

Colorado: Blue Pan

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Denver
Two-year-old Blue Pan in Denver’s West Highland area is young but hungry. The restaurant’s Detroit-style deep dish, the style it’s best known for, has already won a gaggle of awards. Perfect example: The Brooklyn Bridge pie, which took first place in 2014 at the International Pizza Challenge, comes topped with ricotta, oh-so-good natural casing pepperoni whose edges curl up in the oven, sausage, spices and even more cheese. But that’s not all: Blue Pan also serves Chicago-style cracker-thin-crust pizza and New York-style pies as well—and all doughs are made with flours unique to each style. Chef Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch is the genius behind the business and trained under master pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani. Pro tip: Blue Pan is (not surprisingly) a popular place to be, so grab a pie to go and head to Sloan’s Lake for dinner in the park.

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Voted BEST OF DENVER® 2017 BEST PIZZERIA

blue_pan_pizza-63Choices, choices. We first fell in love with Blue Pan Pizza because of chef Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch’s rectangular Detroit-style pies, crunchy on the edges where the cheese caramelizes onto the pan, light and airy in the middle and topped with high-quality ingredients like prosciutto di Parma, San Marzano tomatoes and Tender Belly bacon. But then we tried the floppy New York-style slices and fell in love all over again. And the decisions got even more difficult when we branched out with the Chicago cracker-thin crust and a chewier classic Italian, and found we loved those, too. While a table can be tough to score on a busy weekend night, the pies travel well, so takeout is always an option. But it’s fun to be part of the action in this pizzeria’s lively, bustling dining room, where wine flows by the bottle (some pretty good ones, too, for a tiny pizza joint) and the pizza keeps coming out of the kitchen in all the shapes and toppings we crave.

Read the article here!

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Prepare to Fall in Love With This Underappreciated Style of Pizza Courtesy of Paul Joyner Unless you’re lucky enough to hail from Detroit, in which case you already know. David Landsel November 01, 2017 You never forget your first Detroit-style pizza. Mine was at Buddy’s, one of the oldest pizzerias in the Motor City. Sitting at the corner […]

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Clockwise from top left: Blue Pan Pizza’s Brooklyn Bridge; Enzo’s End Pizzeria’s Spinaci; Pizzeria Lui’s Lawn Boy; a seasonal pie from Brava! Pizzeria & Cafe. Photo by Aaron Colussi Blue Pan Pizza Blue Pan Pizza opened a spacious second location in Congress Park in August (the original is in Highland) to feed the growing horde […]

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5280 Magazine • Blue Pan Pizza Opens in Congress Park

Blue Pan’s second location opened last night. Blue Pan Pizza Opens in Congress Park The beloved pizzeria opened the doors to its new outpost last night—and the house was packed. BY DENISE MICKELSEN | AUGUST 24, 2017 There’s a lot going on in Congress Park dining these days (Sweet Cooie’s and 12@Madison are prime examples), as Denver restaurateurs cater to the densely packed […]

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Congress Park Gets Square Deal: Blue Pan Pizza

Congress Park Gets Square Deal: Blue Pan Pizza MARK ANTONATION | AUGUST 23, 2017 | 11:30AM Congress Park is in for a square deal: Tonight, Blue Pan Pizza will start serving its deep-dish, Detroit-style pizza at a second location, 3509 East 12th Avenue. Founded by Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin, Blue Pan has been up and running at 3930 West 32nd Avenue since June […]

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Construction Watch: Second Blue Pan Pizza Takes Shape in Congress Park

Denver was definitely ready for the arrival of Detroit-style pies when Blue Pan Pizza opened at 3930 West 32nd Avenue in the summer of 2015. The tiny shop has been hopping since day one, and business partners Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin knew almost immediately that there was enough demand for a second location. Last May, […]

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Top 10 places to grab a slice of pizza (or two) in Denver

DENVER — When it comes to pizza, most people have a preferred style, and Denver doesn’t disappoint with a wide variety from Detroit to Chicago to New York and more. We took a look at some of the top pizzerias in the city and we think your taste buds will be happy. Check out our […]

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American Pie From deep dish to Neapolitan, this is the best pizza in the country

We are extremely honored that TastingTable.com chose us as the best pizzeria in Colorado and one of the 26 best in the country that they showcase in this great article. Colorado: Blue Pan Denver Two-year-old Blue Pan in Denver’s West Highland area is young but hungry. The restaurant’s Detroit-style deep dish, the style it’s best known […]

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Blue Pan Detroit Style Pizza Helps Celebrate Deep Dish Pizza Day! Whether it’s National Deep Dish Pizza Day or any day, you’ve got to try Blue Pan Detroit Style Pizza in Denver’s West Highlands neighborhood. Co-owners Giles Flanagin and Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch, who is also an award-winning Pizzaiolo, showed us what Detroit style pizza is all […]

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BEST OF DENVER® 2017 Blue Pan Pizza BEST PIZZERIA

Voted BEST OF DENVER® 2017 BEST PIZZERIA Choices, choices. We first fell in love with Blue Pan Pizza because of chef Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch’s rectangular Detroit-style pies, crunchy on the edges where the cheese caramelizes onto the pan, light and airy in the middle and topped with high-quality ingredients like prosciutto di Parma, San Marzano […]

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