Detroit's pizza scene is one of the most exciting in the country.
Few outsiders know it, but Detroit and its suburbs are one of America’s pizza hotbeds. Some of the heaviest (and most corporate) hitters are based here; Little Caesars HQ is downtown, and Dominoes is in nearby Ann Arbor. But it’s the smaller, independent pizza restaurants and local chains that set Detroit apart.
Like Chicago and New York, Detroit has a signature pie. “Detroit-style” pizza is square and deep-dish (though not as deep or dough-heavy as Chicago’s). It features a crunchy rim of crust and a top layer of cheese that runs right to the edge of each slice. Legend has it Detroit’s pizza-makers achieved the crust by baking their pie not in traditional pizza trays, but rather in thinner metal pans originally designed to hold factory parts. (This is the Motor City, after all.)
If you haven’t had Detroit-style pizza, try it. But even if it’s not your thing, the city and suburbs offer no shortage of knockout spots for traditional round, Neapolitan-style pie, and most everything else in pizzadom. If you’re in town and looking to scratch your pizza itch, search out one of the places on this list. You won’t be disappointed.
While locals could spend all day debating the best Detroit-style pizza in town, Buddy’s is the undisputed originator of the style, which it introduced back in 1946. Order the “Detroiter,” a pepperoni pizza featuring tomato-basil sauce and topped with shaved parmesan and a special spice blend. With 12 Buddy’s locations scattered throughout Metro Detroit, a slice of their excellent pizza is never out of reach. But if possible, visit Buddy’s original downtown location on Conant Street.
Like many of Metro Detroit’s pearls, this Hazel Park pizzeria doesn’t look like much on the outside; it resembles a 1970s-era cocktail lounge. But don’t let Loui’s facade fool you. Inside, beneath its canopy of dangling chianti bottles, you’ll be served some of the tastiest pizza you’ve ever eaten. Loui’s has (arguably) the best Detroit-style deep-dish crust around.
Breaking away from old-school Detroit-style pizzerias, Tomatoes Apizza makes Neapolitan-inspired, coal-fired pies that never fail to wow first-time visitors. While the coaster-thin crust is done to perfection—crispy but never dry or brittle—it’s the stuff on top that really shines. Fresh, abundant and bursting with flavor, the toppings at Tomatoes Apizza are in a class of their own.
If foldable, floppy New York-style pizza is your jam, this is your spot. Located in the city’s famed Eastern Market, Supino’s often has a long line snaking out its door. But don’t let that deter you. Dough, sauce, and toppings mingle here in perfect harmony, and the quality is consistently excellent.
Green Lantern Pizzeria
Along with that distinctive deep-dish crust, a fair number of Detroit pizzerias top their pies with small, thick-cut, charred-edge pepperoni that curls up into little bowls as its cooked. It’s these little details that locals love, and Green Lantern does pepperoni (and a lot else) just right. Its cheesy “Lantern Bread” is also a must-try.
The name is a reference to the David Bowie track, but it could also refer to the emphasis this Allen Park pizzeria places on using local, organic, GMO-free tomatoes and other ingredients. The traditional round pies at Major Tomato are excellent. But if you’re feeling adventurous, order their “Little Mac” pizza. It comes with organic ground beef, pickles, cheddar, and other classic hamburger toppings. (Don’t scoff until you’ve tried it.)
Pie Sci Pizza
If you’re looking to expand your pizza horizons, this Trumbull Avenue spot is for you. Featuring an assortment of always-changing (and punnily named) weekly specials, Pie Sci is all about creativity. Some recent concoctions include the “Salami Kilpatrick”—named for the city’s disgraced former mayor—which featured an oil and vinegar “embezzlement drizzle,” and the “Poblano Picasso,” a red-sauce pie topped with roasted poblanos and pico de gallo.
While Hamtramck is best known for its Polish food and heritage, Amar Pizza is another great reason to visit this former industrial town that borders Detroit to the north. The Tandoori and Naga pizzas are stand-outs, and the spinach-and-feta pie is memorable. So is the BBQ pizza. And the Ghost pizza. We could keep going.
Amici’s Pizza & Living Room
Another hidden gem, this Berkley pizzeria’s unassuming digs belies its superlative pie. Fresh toppings and zesty sauce surf atop a bed of pillowy dough. You can taste the attention to detail when you bite into Amici’s pizza. They also offer vegan and gluten-free options, which can be hard to find elsewhere in Detroit.
For any Midwesterners craving Chicago-style deep dish, PizzaPapalis has the goods. And they are good. It’s not clear how they manage to make such thick slices of pizza so delicate and fluffy, but even hardcore Detroit-style pizza fans appreciate this Greektown spot. The pies here take extra time to bake, but they’re worth the wait.
The no-frills approach to customer service at Primo’s rubs some newbs the wrong way, and you can’t eat your pie here (unless you like it standing up or sitting outside in your car). But if you’re looking for a quick slice or a pie to go, you can’t go wrong with this Birmingham institution. Ask the guys at the counter for a corner slice. They’ll hook you up.
This Woodward Avenue restaurant and cocktail lounge has been serving up first-rate pizza for decades. While Pasquale’s interior is showing its age and the pasta dishes are hit-and-miss, the pie here continues to impress. The deep dish is good, but the traditional round should be your first stop. Order it, the antipasto salad and a glass of cheap chianti. You’ll leave happy.