Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by admin

With its unique rectangular shape and thick crust, Detroit-style pizza has captured the hearts of pizza lovers worldwide. Its story spans nearly eight decades and involves immigration, industry, and tenacity. Gus and Anna Guerra created the style in 1946 when they opened a neighborhood bar. Their dough recipe, Sicilian in origin, and a layer of Wisconsin brick cheese baked in blue steel pans inspired by the city’s auto industry would define this pizza style’s characteristics. 

Table of Contents

Origins 

Few foods make a more impactful impression than pizza; Detroit-style is no exception. The style emerged in 1946 in a tavern experimenting with pizza preparation to grow its business. Owner August “Gus” Guerra kneaded Sicilian-style dough into repurposed steel automobile pans and sprinkled Wisconsin brick cheese, allowing the sauce to shine. The style gained popularity throughout the city as people depended on takeout and delivery. Today, several restaurants in metro Detroit serve Detroit-style pizza, including Bricks Corner Pizza. Unlike Neapolitan-adjacent styles, which have a long history and a known inventor, no one can claim ownership of Detroit-style pizza. But there are many reasons why the unique pies have inspired a renaissance. 

Crust 

When most people think of pizza, they envision a circular pie with stringy melted cheese dropping off flimsy triangular slices. Detroit-style pizza, which has a square shape and sauce-topped cheese, deviates from this paradigm. The defining characteristics of this style of pizza include the rectangular shape, light and porous crust, and crispy, caramelized corners. Its signature crust is based on a Sicilian-style recipe Gus Guerra adapted to fit his new pans. The pans were forged steel from auto manufacturing plants and can sustain high temperatures for extended periods. 

The result is a pizza lighter than a New York slice but much thicker and doughier than a Chicago deep dish. The crust is typically served piping hot and, unlike pizzas from New York or Chicago, requires a fork and knife to be eaten. Dedicated fans, however, may choose to brave the heat and go sans utensils. This enthusiasm for Detroit-style pizza has helped it become a popular gastronomic trend, with Bricks Corner SLC menu expanding. 

Toppings 

Gus whipped up Detroit-style pizza using an old Sicilian dough recipe from his wife, who borrowed it from her mother. Legend gets a little sketchy about why and how she did this, but the result was a square, deep-dish pie that’s unique in all sorts of ways. The pan is the key to the light and airy crust of Detroit-style pizza. The thick steel, which is more akin to a cast iron skillet than a cake pan, must be well-seasoned to prevent the crust from sticking to the bottom. The pizzas are also baked at a lower temperature than traditional New York- or Chicago-style pizza, so the cheese only melts slowly. Though numerous pizzerias peddle Detroit-style pizza in metro Detroit, establishments have risen above the rest of the pack.  

Sauce 

Detroit-style pizza is popping up nationwide, from trendy New York restaurants to national chains. But it’s not a fad: It has been around for decades in Detroit, and its characteristics are distinctly Motor City. Like other deep-dish pan pizzas, Detroit-style relies on lots of cheese, but it’s typically a blend of mild mozzarella and high-fat Wisconsin brick cheese that spreads out to the edges of the square pizza, where it caramelizes. That contrasts pies baked in round pans, which don’t get that distinctive lacy look. 

Gus Guerra, in 1946, is credited with introducing Detroit-style pizza at his bar and restaurant. The recipe would spawn spinoffs and other spots, which all still make Detroit-style pizza today. But until about a decade ago, the rectangular pizza was virtually unknown outside of Detroit and its suburbs.