Sure, New Jersey is known for its pizza (and pizza makers). But, a new era has hit the East Coast and is now on the rise here at home. It’s called Detroit-style pizza. This is no flimsy pie. It gets its rectangular shape from the special, high-sided pan it’s cooked in and the exterior is a glorious caramelized cheese crust. While Detroit-style pizza may not be as well-known here in New Jersey, its widespread popularity is not lost on the Garden State.
What Makes Detroit-Style Pizza?
Detroit-style pizza dough closely resembles that of focaccia bread, except fluffier. It’s quite sturdy but not chewy, like many New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are used to. In the oven, the crust gets crusted over with the cheese that has melted down the sides of the pan, creating a lacy texture sometimes referred to as a “cheese skirt.” Once baked, the texture is extremely light and porous despite its thickness. The taste is buttery and almost has a deep-fried quality to it from the time it spent sizzling in the rendered fat from the cheese.
While mozzarella might be most people’s go-to, Detroit-style pizza uses brick cheese from Wisconsin. This cheese is tangy and creamy in its raw form. Once cooked, the middle stays gooey while the edges get brown and crispy. The key is to dot the perimeter of the pie with cheese. This forms a blackened, lacy crust around all the sides and edges of the pizza. Yeah, you’re gonna want to call dibs on that corner slice.
Without these pans, Detroit-style pizza could not exist. Repeat after me, it’s all about the pan. Traditionally made from blue steel, these rectangular (or square, depending on who you ask) “trays” are believed to be inspired by the ones used by autoworkers in Michigan factories. The sides are what make them unique since they’re designed to be angled outwards, which means there’s more surface area at the top of the pie than the bottom.
Why It’s Trending
Most famously, New York City’s Emmy Squared came onto the scene with their Instagrammable Detroit-style pizza and pepperoni cups in 2016. They’ve since expanded, and their pan pies definitely started a movement here on the East Coast. With New Jersey being the single greatest state when it comes to pizza, it was only a matter of time before Detroit-style began to make a name for itself here. Today, you’ll find traditional and creative homages to the classic Detroit-style pizza across the entire state. Below are a few of our faves.
Where to Get Detroit-Style Pizza in New Jersey
1. Low Fidelity – Jersey City, NJ
At Lo-Fi, goers will find all different iterations of Detroit-style pizza broken down into four categories: Red, White, Speciality, and Red Eye Pies (available for weekend brunch). The Motor City is my go-to and one of their simpler offerings, topped with pepperoni cups and hot honey. Other standouts include the Aloha Satellite with guanciale, fermented pineapple and Thai basil or the Jersey Cosmonaut with pancetta, vodka sauce and smoked mozzarella. Whatever you choose, Low Fidelity seldom disappoints.
2. Blue Steel Pizza Company – Bloomfield, NJ
Just by hearing the name Blue Steel Pizza Company, you know that they know what’s up. Their New Jersey restaurant is using the traditional blue steel Detroit-style pizza pans to craft their pies in a classic 8” x 10” size. Here, you’ll find true to form Detroit-style pizza down to the brick cheese and classic red top. They’re also putting their spin on other well-known pies, including a ricotta and sausage pizza, one with littleneck clams, or a supreme pizza with red onion and black olive tapenade.
3. Jersey Pizza Boys – Avenel, NJ
This Middlesex County pizzeria is sort of like an encyclopedia for all things pizza. Jersey Pizza Boys’ expansive menu features an array of unique toppings and styles. Naturally, this extends to Detroit-style pizza. As it should be, Jersey Pizza Boys’ Detroit-style pizza is fluffy and loaded with toppings—a skirt of caramelized cheese encases the outer crust. Maybe you’re in the mood for Detroit-style and the family is in the mood for something different? Look no further, because Jersey Pizza Boys has nearly all of the styles covered.
4. OB’s Pizza Bar – Clark, NJ
Nestled away on a golf course in Clark, OB’s Pizza Bar is a hidden gem for—you guessed it—Detroit-style pizza. The menu is loaded with creative iterations of the saucy, and savory pizza style. From more traditional sausage and ricotta topped pizzas to out-of-left-field buffalo chicken Detroit pizzas topped with pickle chips and hot honey, OB’s has a little bit of everything.
5. Pasquale’s Pizzeria – Wall, NJ
A Monmouth County favorite, you can expect almost nothing but the classics at Pasquale’s Pizzeria in Wall. That being said, they’ve joined the bandwagon and added Detroit-style pizza to their menu. Not to be confused with the Brooklyn square pie they also offer. Here, you can top your pizza with any of the traditional pizza toppings from veggies to meats.
6. Lupo Pizzeria – West Long Branch and Fair Haven,NJ
Crispy cheese, pepperoni cups, bolognese—you name it. Lupo Pizzeria is dishing out some of Jersey’s best DSP from their West Long Branch and Fair Haven locations. Their impressively large menu established them as a local favorite, but it is the Detroit-style pizza that puts them on the map in the Garden State. Grab a quick slice or a whole pie—at Lupo, the world is your oyster (or pizza).
7. Brick + Dough – Montclair, NJ
Detroit-style pizza might not be your first thought when heading to the lauded brick oven pizzeria. Neapolitan-inspired pizza is more the name of the game at B+D, but what if we told you that the Detroit-style is B+D’s best kept secret? Even better, it’s gluten-free. That’s right, Brick + Dough is dishing out a gluten-free DSP that leaves nothing to be desired. Seriously, it’s not just “good for gluten-free,” but it’s an excellent pizza, period.
Know any other spots to score Detroit-style pizza in New Jersey? Let us know in the comments below.
Main image by Peter Bonacci featuring the Motor City from Low Fidelity
About the Author/s
Abby is The Digest’s Managing Editor. She spends her time looking at dogs on Instagram and eating her way around Jersey City.