There Is A Right Way To Eat Detroit-Style Pizza, And It's Contentious

Detroit-style pizza has been a big deal for foodies beyond Motor City for a while now. Pizza Hut rolled out a Detroit-style pizza in 2021, motivated by "the growing popularity of this pizza style across the country and requests from customers." Nearly a decade prior, Little Caesars debuted its Detroit-style DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza in 2013. However, the question isn't whether fans are eating the pizza style but how they are eating it.

The hallmarks of a true Detroit-style pizza are an airy, spongy, rectangular crust with a crispy exterior and browned cheese all the way to the edges. But the real kicker is the order of the toppings: On top of the crust goes, (in ascending order) cheese, then pepperoni (or whatever else), then sauce. Putting sauce on top keeps the crust from getting soggy, but on the flip side, it also keeps the pepperoni from getting crispy — a trade-off fans of the style say is totally worth it. With all this layered, saucy, cheesy goodness in mind, are you on team knife and fork, or do you consider pizza (now and forever) a handheld food? 

A word of warning, if you subscribe to the latter, this might be tough to hear: In Detroit, people use silverware to eat Detroit-style pizza.

Fork over your preconceived pizza beliefs

If chowing down on a slice of 'za with a fork and knife seems a little excessive for you (what's next — a bib?), consider the danger. A typical commercial pizza oven runs around 700-800 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh out of the oven, those thick (heat-retaining) square-shaped slices are way too hot to pick up with your bare hands without sustaining a grotesque burn injury — and diehard pizza fans know that fresh out of the oven is the best (nay, the only) way to properly do it.

If the prospect of utensils is anathema, consider how unthinkable (to some) putting the sauce on top of the cheese might be. But once sampled, even cities with the most hometown pizza pride have been won over by this unique style. Deep-dish may be as vital to sustaining Chicagoans as air but pop over to Paulie Gee's in Logan Square, and you'll find Detroit-style pie. Think NYC when you hear pizza? You're not alone, but those looking for a break from the thin, foldable Brooklyn-style slices can head over to Lions & Tigers & Squares or Emmy Squared where these restaurants are serving up Detroit-style pies.

Perhaps fittingly, Wesley Pikula of Buddy's (the birthplace of the first-ever Detroit-style pie) offers Eater a middle way, "It's one of those products that you may start with a knife and fork and then go with the hand later." With utensils, those carefully-assembled layers of cheesy, sauce, and toppings won't come spilling out over the edge of the crust; you'll get all the ingredients in every bite.