Livonia, Michigan: Great Detroit-Style Pizza at Buddy's
Remember food writer Alan Richman's brilliant pizza roundup, "American Pie," in GQ last year?
If you're visiting Buddy's Pizza, as I was last week*, you'll find a reminder of it on every table:
Buddy's serves Detroit-style pizza, described by Wikipedia as "very close to the Sicilian-style pizzas ... also known in other places as 'Italian baker-style pizza.' It is a square pizza, with a thick deep-dish crust (sometimes twice baked), and with sauce put on the pizza last."
According to Mr. Richman, Buddy's cheese pizza is the 15th-best pizza in the U.S. So that is what I tried. Or, at least tried to try. I couldn't resist the lure of my favorite topping, sausage. I figured this being the Midwest, and Midwesterners knowing their sausage, I might have a revelatory pork experience. I made a compromise and ordered a half-and-half.
I don't know if I'd be able to describe Buddy's cheese pizza any better than Mr. Richman, so I am just going to quote his entry from the magazine article in question:
Buddy's pizza crust is one of the best in America, although it's unlikely you knew it was in the running for the championship. That's because Buddy's, as much a bar and sandwich shop as it is a pizzeria, specializes in Detroit-style square pizza, almost unknown outside the city. The crusts here are a little better than the competition's, and almost every pizzeria I tried in Detroit did them well. The interior slices on a Buddy's pizza are light, slightly crunchy, and extremely satisfying, but the goal in any Detroit experience is those slices at the four corners of the pan, where maximum blackening occurs. If you love the burnt ends on pork ribs, Buddy's isn't to be missed.
Yes, the oily, spongey, almost pan-fried crust is extremely satisfying. It's never going to please the people for whom a leopard-spotted crisp-chewy breadlike crust is the ideal, but I suspect those kind of people would never set foot in Buddy's in the first place.
The sausage? Forgettable. I should have resisted the urge to add it.
No, my lasting impression is of those sides of the slice that touch the pan. (And if you get a "4-Square" pie, each piece is a corner.) The chewy, caramelized cheese has a texture somewhere between crunchy and beef jerky. If you could top the entire pie with that, it would either be heaven or overkill. I don't know which, but I wouldn't mind finding out.