Best Pizza (Detroit)

Buddy’s Pizza

Staff Pick, Readers' Choice

Various locations; buddyspizza.com

It seems that plenty of people are now aware that Detroit has its own pizza style, like the New York fold-over thin slice, or the Chicago deep dish that Pizzeria Uno popularized in the Windy City. What’s more exciting is that Detroit-style is now becoming a thing around the country. But as Buddy’s vice president Wes Pikula once said, “‘Detroit-style’ pizza is actually ‘Buddy’s-style’ pizza.’”

Indeed, Buddy’s invented the genre in 1946 at its McNichols and Conant pizzeria that once functioned as a blind pig. Other pizzerias now offer their take on the style, but the Detroit-pizza family tree sprouts out of Buddy’s Detroit kitchen.

So what is exactly is a Detroit-style — er, a Buddy’s-style — pizza? It’s marked by a blanket of semi-soft, high-fat Wisconsin brick cheese that’s spread to the pizza's browned, caramelized, cheese-crusted edges. It’s a rectangular deep dish, so there essentially is no outer “crust.” The dough is crunchy and focaccia-like, sauce always goes on top, and the pie is divided into block slices that are often heavy enough to demand utensils. Buddy’s pies are not too unlike the Sicilian deep dish, but the differences are distinct.

Above all, the dough is what sets Buddy’s apart. High hydration levels, saltwater yeast, and secrets in the proofing process are what gives its pizzas a light, crunchy interior. While there’s similarities to focaccia, Buddy’s Neapolitan deep dish foundation doesn’t include oil and isn’t as chewy.

And similar to the way that New York City’s water is what makes NY-style slices inimitable outside the Big Apple, Buddy’s original shop repurposed square, blue steel utility trays designed for storage at local auto factories into pizza pans. The pans’ folds gather and house the fat and oil from the cheese, then drip flavor into each successive pizza’s crust.

Buddy’s now operates 12 locations around southeast Michigan, and a 13th is planned for downtown Detroit. —Tom Perkins

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