The first installment of my admittedly ambitious Pizza Tour of Detroit.

In the unassuming, working class suburb of Hazel Park, within a mile of Detroit Proper, lies a legend among pizza joints: Loui’s Pizza.

Loui's outside

My first introduction to Detroit-style pizza was Buddy’s, a legend of its own with 9 locations in the Detroit-metro area.

But part of what makes Loui’s so special is that there is only one. And the one is so adorable in its ambiance as to trump any Buddy’s atmosphere I’ve been to. There are literally hundreds of basket-cradled Chianti bottles draping the walls, interlaced with cheery Christmas lights on a properly Italian-Restaurant-Red background. The bottles are signed by loyal patrons from any number of years ago, as this location has been in the same spot for over three decades. Just walking into this place puts you into a mood for a great dining experience.

Loui's inside...

And you’ll get one, too. Not the kind of upwardly mobile, wish-I-was-in-Chicago pizza dining experience best suited to the mall shoppers of the world. But a real career-waitresses-who-know-your-name, Made-in-Detroit, exact-same-menu-and-furnishings-since-you-were-a-kid dining experience that can only come from an authentic legend like Loui’s. This place is a serious case study in pizza as comfort food.

The Real Deal - Louis Pizza


So what about the pizza?

The pizza here is nearly indistinguishable from Buddy’s, with the same square, Sicilian shape, same sauce-on-top structure, same scorched-outer-yielding-to-doughy-center crust, and same carmelized cheese edges that make it impossible to ignore as a pizza genre in its own right. I will say that the sauce at Loui’s has an extra pepper bite and extra oregano that DOES distinguish it from Buddy’s. For me, the only drawback was that the mushrooms were from a jar and not fresh. But with so many other things going for it, this minor misdeed was forgivable.

Loui's Antipasta Salad

While we waited, my dinner companion and I sipped some adequate red table wine from a carafe and munched on the lauded antipasto salad. The salad was not fancy mixed greens, but straight-up, crowd-pleasing iceberg — fittingly served super cold — with very, very generous amounts of meat, cheese and tomatoes mixed in, all swimming in the tangiest Italian dressing of your dreams. Highly recommended. We even took the leftovers home and added MORE lettuce, it was that dense with accoutrement.

Apparently,¬† Loui’s history is intertwined with that of Buddy’s. My understanding is that the owner, Loui himself, once worked at Buddy’s, and then there was a schism in the world of Detroit-style pizza, and Loui’s version of Detroit-style pie was born. I don’t know the details. In fact, I just overheard patrons discussing it. Perhaps someone can shed some light on this intriguing tale of two pizzas.

Whatever the story – whether mundane restaurateur enterprise or salacious gourmand rivalry – the end result is more delicious pizza.

I will say, until another pizza place can capture my heart with such decisive deliciousness and simpatico setting, this will be my place to share with out-of-town guests when I want to show off how cool Detroit’s pizza really is…

Loui’s Pizza
23141 Dequindre Rd
Hazel Park, MI 48030-1600
(248) 547-1711

Here’s the challenge: devour Detroit, one pizza at a time.

Inspired by a story on the best pizzas in metro Detroit, I have landed on a noble goal: get an accurate education in Detroit pizza.

My curriculum: two pizzas a month (at least) for a year.

My coursework: this blog.

Detroit Pizza

Pizza Pizza Pizza

In my research on Detroit pizza, I was pleased to discover that Detroit is considered by James Beard Award-winning food journalist Alan Richman to be the 3rd best pizza city in the nation, just behind New York and San Fran, and perhaps surprisingly (though not to me) above #4 Chicago.

Little known to Detroit dwellers and outsiders alike, there is a Detroit-style pizza. But the mix of cultures and influences means that there’s a great variety of pies available in the metro area, so our selection is not limited to this one execution — though it is a fine style, and one of my favorites.

We all know sharing is caring; I plan to share with you my impressions as I sample all the pizza I can get my mouth around. I am starting out with a list of pizza places that will undoubtedly grow as time goes on. Please send your suggestions for places to visit, and I’ll add them to the destinations list!

  1. Buddy’s Pizza
  2. Amici’s Pizza
  3. Loui’s Pizza
  4. Crust Pizza and Wine Bar
  5. Luigi’s Original
  6. Supino’s
  7. Sheild’s
  8. Dan Good’s
  9. Cloverleaf Bar
  10. DiNoto’s Genuine Italian
  11. Green Lantern
  12. Tomatoes Apizza
  13. Jet’s
  14. Hungry Howie’s
  15. Lucky Duck’s
  16. Fresh Farm’s Market
  17. Cottage Inn
  18. Georgio’s
  19. Brooklyn Pizza
  20. Pizza Cutter
  21. PizzaPapalis
  22. Bricks (added 9/10)
  23. Royal Oak Brewery (added 9/10/09)
  24. Red Devil (added 9/11/09)
  25. Bob’s Pizza (added 9/11/09)
  26. Papa Ramano’s (added 9/11/09)
  27. Little Ceasar’s (added 9/11/09)
  28. Nikki’s (added 9/21/09)
  29. Aubree’s (added 9/26/09)
  30. Jerusalem Pizza (added 9/28/09)
  31. Frank’s Restaurant and Pizzaria (added 11/5/09)
  32. Sportsmans Pizzeria (added 11/5/09)
  33. Geno’s Pizza (added 1/31/10)