Food & Drink

Detroit Pizza Tour – Best Pizzas in Metro Detroit

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. 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.

How we ranked the best pizzas in metro Detroit

We knew pizza passions ran deep in metro Detroit. But we didn’t expect an avalanche of more than 600 e-mails when we asked readers to point us toward their favorite pies.

When GQ magazine named Detroit the nation’s third-best pizza city this year, it listed four local pies in America’s top 25. But many others deserved the spotlight — and Detroiters deserved a chance to have their say.

Speak, they did, in full-page essays, heartfelt paragraphs, and one-word declarations. In a place where pizza loyalties are passed down like family keepsakes, we weren’t surprised that old-school favorites still command legions of fans.

But readers also showed they’re embracing lighter, more modern pizzas baked in stone-hearth ovens with hand-crafted crusts and more varied toppings.

You’ll find both kinds in a roundup of mouth-watering wonderfulness we call the 25 Best Pizzas in metro Detroit. From that list, we chose a top 10. And then we dared to name a No. 1.

No one will agree with every word. In fact, you’re guaranteed to be shocked about something — places listed, places omitted. But that’s inevitable because defining pizza perfection is purely subjective.

Metro Detroit’s Best Pizzas: The Top 10

We invite you to taste-test our metro Detroit’s best pizzas list. Don’t be surprised if it leads to your new favorite pie.

Supino Pizzeria

2457 Russell, Detroit; 313-567-7879

Metro Detroit will always love its thick, square, Sicilian-style pizzas, but here across the country, tastes are turning to lighter, more modern styles. The deceptively simple pies at Supino Pizzeria n Detroit’s Eastern Market do more than follow the trend. They help define it.

Owner Dave Mancini’s hand-stretched crusts are wide, round, very thin, and wonderfully crisp. His sauce is light, bright, and fresh-tasting. And the cheeses and fresh-from-the-market toppings are applied judiciously, so the brick-oven pies are a sublime balance of flavors and textures.

Favorite specialty pies include the signature Supino, made with mozzarella, red sauce, kalamata olives, roasted garlic, chili oil, and ricotta cheese. And fans in the know love Mancini’s personal favorite: the Bismarck, topped with red sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, and a sunny-side egg. Improbable but delicious!

We all have our favorite old-school pies; that won’t change. But we’re hungry for something fresh and exciting pizza that’s lighter but packed with big, deep, satisfying flavor. That’s why Supino gets the Free Press nod as metro Detroit’s best pizza.

Rounding out the top 10 metro detroit’s best pizzas, in alphabetical order:

Amici’s Pizza

3249 Twelve Mile, Berkley; 248-544-4100

Amici’s gourmet pies have been wowing palates for years with their excellent ingredients and creative topping combinations, paired with some fabulous crusts. Customers crowd into the funky Berkley storefront and its intimate adjoining bar, Amici’s Living Room, for outrageously delicious pies like the No. 3 Portabella Mushroom, topped with rich Fontina cheese, big slices of portabella, roasted garlic cloves, and bits of crispy Italian bacon. Crust options include whole wheat and gluten-free.

Buddy’s

31646 Northwestern, Farmington Hills; 248-855-4600

No name is more synonymous with metro Detroit’s signature square, thick-crust pizzas than Buddy’s. Its classic pie features a thick but light crust, a generous layer of cheese, and a thick, mildly spiced sauce spooned on top. Pepperoni, if used, is hidden between the cheese and crust, but you can also choose to defy tradition and request it on top. Some would say it’s even more flavorful that way. Either way, the crispy, cheesy corners are the best pieces. Here’s the Super: pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and cheese.

Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant

24443 Gratiot, Eastpointe; 586-777-5391

The children of founder Gus Guerra have carried on his spirit and the family’s wonderfully rustic square, thick-crust pizzas in this popular Eastpointe haunt. Guerra, aided by his mother-in-law, is credited with serving the first square, Sicilian-style pizza in Detroit in 1946. Today the savory, long-simmered sauce, the cheesy-crunchy edges, and the classic thick crust still delight us. It’s so old-school — but it’s still so right.

Dan Good Pizza

35346 Twenty-Three Mile, New Baltimore; 586-716-7770

The “Dan” is veteran restaurant chef Dan Stackpoole. The “Good” is a deep-dish pizza so light and fabulous it’s worth driving all the way to New Baltimore, where Stackpoole opened his first shop just seven months ago. There’s a traditional crust, too, but the tender, light, crisp deep-dish crust may be the best we’ve ever had in a Chicago-style pie. Everything’s made in-house; the 32 toppings are premium. We expect to hear more from this place.

DiNoto’s Genuine Italian

20223 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-884-5030

Only the neighborhood seems to know about this sweet little carry-out, where chef-owner Pino DiNoto makes wonderfully fragrant, flavorful, and beautiful pizzas. The golden edges of their thin, crisp crusts are brushed with garlic-herb butter; the toppings are the essence of Italy. The classic Florentine — with well-balanced tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and a snowstorm of grated Romano — looks like a painting. Another must-try is Gambino’s Favorite, covered in a patchwork of torn prosciutto and baby arugula leaves. These are truly pies to crave.

Green Lantern

28960 John R, Madison Heights; 248-541-5439

Perhaps no single pizza place in metro Detroit has a more avid following than Green Lantern Lounge in Madison Heights. It is so popular that the kitchen produces 400 to 500 pies every night. We love the delicious cheese — a rich mozzarella blend that fills your mouth with flavor. But it’s the pepperoni people crave most. The thick, spicy slices curl up into tiny grease cups — which fans love — and the edges crisp and darken deliciously.

Luigis Original

36691 Jefferson, Harrison Township; 586-468-7711

Original, indeed. Owner Dean Olgiati keeps the spirit of 1953 alive in his casual, pleasantly crowded, one-of-a-kind spot in Harrison Township. And he keeps customers returning with his nutty-tasting, sesame-seeded crusts, topped with an abundance of excellent ingredients. The colorful Gourmet Veggie will delight you with its tender-crisp toppings. Make sure to check out the signature Luigis Special with ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.

Shield’s

1476 W. Maple, Troy; 248-637-3131

You won’t know what sets Shield’s apart from other long-time metro Detroit favorites once you taste it. There’s something about the thick, home-style sauce with just a teeny-tiny bit of sweetness that makes you want a second bite and a third. The kitchen uses plenty of flavorful cheese but doesn’t go overboard, and the thick crust is surprisingly light and crisp. Several generations of pizza fans have loved Shield’s; tasting it again told us why.

Tomatoes Apizza

29275 Fourteen Mile, Farmington Hills; 248-855-3555

Metro Detroit’s best-known destination for super-thin-crust pies pays homage to the pizza shops of New Haven, Conn., where chef-owner Michael Weinstein learned his art after leaving the Culinary Institute of America. The 14-and-Middlebelt location boasts Michigan’s first coal-fired oven, producing pizzas with remarkably thin and flavorful crusts. Aficionados love the lightly charred edges. We started with the basic white pizza — no red sauce, just mozzarella, sliced tomato, garlic, and basil — and added spicy Italian sausage and briny kalamata olives. Heavenly.

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!

Pizza Papalis

553 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226-2932

Last weekend, we had a birthday party at Pizza Papalis in Detroit, and everything was great, from the food to the service to the atmosphere as a whole. Even though it was busy, we were served right away and given water while we looked at the menu. Don’t come here when you’re hungry because there is a long wait. Our pizza took almost an hour to come.

I love this pizza with a deep dish. It’s like Chicago, but you don’t have to drive for 4 hours to get there. It’s also very much Detroit. The pizza made in the Detroit style was different from my favorite. It didn’t taste as good as the deep dish. The pizza had sauce on top, and it tasted like cheese bread with a few toppings here and there. There are gluten-free choices.

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About the author
Growing up in Detroit, Amanda is a Michigan State University alumnus. She feels incredibly lucky to live in Detroit, and much more, to spend her days promoting the Detroit area as a travel destination.