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A highlight on the Metro Detroit Pizza Tour

I have picked up a Shield’s pizza a time or three to bring home, and have always thoroughly enjoyed the warmish pizza at my own kitchen table, dutifully resisting the urge to break it out on the drive home.

But to give Shield’s a completely fair shake, I had to go in and have the entire dining experience.

Shield’s has several locations around Metro Detroit – four to be precise – and the one I’ve been going to is in Southfield. I’ve always appreciated the ambiance of the attached bar as I’ve gone in to pick up my pizza at the take-away counter. It seems darkish – the right lighting for a bar, in my opinion – and somehow cozy and intimate, like a place where you can hang with your friends and make new ones. The thing I like the most is that there’s plenty of Detroit pride on display, with Old English Ds and proud Red Wings emblems (a far cry from the brightly lit Pizza Papalis bar that wants to be in Chicago). Don’t go here thinking you’ll have a quiet, romantic evening. This bar’s for hanging out and catching the game.

But the dining room is another story. Very family friendly. In fact, there was a clown on duty that night, and I spent much of the evening dreading that it might come near my table and make me a balloon animal. But I think it sensed my clown aversion (and age inappropriateness) and thankfully stayed away.

Sheild's Detroit-Style Pizza

The Pizza! Witness the Gold Medal specialty pie – highly recommended if you like a little spice in your life.

On to the pizza: as I’ve mentioned, the pies I’ve brought home were always darn good – more than adequate. With that characteristic Detroit-Sicilian square shape that produces those delectable carmelized cheese edges (that I’ve tried to capture on film here). In the past we’ve enjoyed our perennial make-your-own favorite – sausage, onion and mushroom – as well as their oh-so-delicious Shield’s Super specialty pizza (pepperoni, brick cheese, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and ham). But this time we went for the Gold Medal: brick and Romano cheeses, Italian banana peppers, sweet red bell peppers, topped with Italian pear tomatoes sautéed in garlic. And as if this were not enough to make you swoon: add the optional (but recommended!) Italian sausage and you’ve got a truly amazing pie, as everyone at the table agreed!

Shield's Detroit-Style Pizza

See those carmelized cheese edges? Perfect example of the Detroit-style breed! Best in show!

I would be remiss in my blogger-informant duties if I did not mention that Shield’s also has a fairly extensive non-pizza menu – including a better-than-average kid’s menu. I can not yet vouch for any of these items, but I have to say that the pasta and sub sandwiches on other people’s tables were looking mighty appetizing.

Bottom line: Shield’s pizza truly rocks and is an excellent specimen of the Detroit Pizza style. I have to stop short of saying that this pizza is better than Buddy’s – there is something about Buddy’s crust that is so far unparalleled in my pizza adventuring – but it is certainly on par with Buddy’s and without a doubt worth coming back for. Shield’s deserves all the praise it gets, and all the business you can give it. Bring the kids.

Shield’s of Southfield

25101 Telegraph Rd.

Southfield, MI 48076

248-356-2720

Other locations in Macomb Township, Rochester Hills, and Troy.

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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)

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