Best Pizza in Detroit

March 17, 2017  |   Story by Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann  |   Photos by Marvin Shaouni

When GQ magazine ranked Detroit third among the great cities for pizza a few years back, (behind only New York City and Chicago) some people in this town still considered those fighting words. Talk to fans of the original Buddy’s in Detroit, Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina in Southfield and Cloverleaf in Eastpointe, and they’re resolute that their hometown pies aren’t just among the nation’s best, they ARE the best. “There is a lot of great pizza in the area,” asserted Molly Abraham, food critic for The Detroit News and Hour Detroit magazine. “It used to be that you had to go to a ‘pizza place’ to get deep-dish pizza. Not so anymore.”

In 2017, Detroit was named second on Travel + Leisure’s Best Pizza Cities in America list, which sounds much better to locals. From deep-dish and thin-crust to Neapolitan, Detroit and its environs can satisfy and delight even the most discerning of pizza palates. Metro Detroit boasts many top-rate traditional pizzerias and a variety of restaurants that, while not exclusively serving up pizza, toss together such mighty fine pies that they might as well roll out the red-checkered tablecloth and hire a host named Luigi. Here’s where we suggest you sample a slice or two, or maybe more, of Detroit-style pizza.

 

Pizza in the Heart of Detroit

Coney dogs aren’t the only downtown Detroit dish known to satisfy a craving for super-tasty fare. Top-notch pizza is aplenty in the heart of the city. A few faves:

Buddy’s, Detroit

Anyone for a game of bocce ball while waiting for a world-famous, square-shaped, deep-dish Buddy’s pie? The original Buddy’s on Conant is a local legend; recognized as “One of the Top 25 Pizza Spots in the U.S.” by Food & Wine. Try the Meat Deluxe or the Super (cheese, pepperoni, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and ham).

Milano Bakery & Cafe, Eastern Market

Enjoy the scents of baking bread and pastries while taking in a personal thin-crust pizza at this cozy bakery and restaurant. Popular picks include the Vegetarian, BLT and BBQ Chicken.

Niki’s Pizza, Greektown

Grab pizza for one (two slices) or a whole deep-dish square pie with your choice of toppings and a Greek salad from the place that aptly has the latter mastered to perfection.

PizzaPapalis, Greektown

Chicago-style deep-dish in The D is very much a viable option thanks to places such as PizzaPapalis in Greektown. You can’t go wrong with the Papalis Gourmet (spinach, black olives, chicken breast, garlic and feta) or the Seafood Combo (shrimp and krab meat).

Supino Pizzeria, Eastern Market

Zagat voters put Supino in the No. 1 spot for food in metro Detroit for 2013. Also on the Food & Wine list (see Buddy’s), Supino’s is known for its red and white thin-crust pizzas served in a casual, cozy setting located in Detroit’s Eastern Market. The Bismarck is the owner’s favorite and features a red sauce, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and an egg cracked in the middle.

Town Pump Tavern, Detroit

Take in some live music while enjoying hand-tossed pizzas like the Mexican (chorizo, onions, cheddar, tomatoes and jalapenos) and the Greek (feta, mozzarella, tomatoes, red onions, black olives and pepperoncini).

Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina, Detroit

Featuring celebrated chef Wolfgang Puck’s famed wood-oven baked pizzas. Try the Wild Mushroom with goat cheese, leeks and basil pesto.

 

Pizza All Around Metro Detroit

Frank’s, Wyandotte

Dine in or carry out at this downriver favorite. A community fixture for 40+ years, Frank’s pies have extra-crisp thin crusts. Ask for “the cheese” when your pizza arrives and you’ll get a little bowl of grated Romano for sprinkling. The popular pizza burger pie is topped with hamburger meat, green peppers and onions, and insiders say you can’t go wrong with a Frank’s classic pepperoni.

Cloverleaf, Eastpointe

Cloverleaf earned the distinction of “No. 1. Pizza in the Midwest” at the 2011 World Pizza Games, one among many accolades earned by the home of Detroit’s original deep-dish pizza. Gus Guerra, the man behind the first square pizza served at the original Buddy’s Pizza, opened Cloverleaf in 1953. The family-owned pizzeria has been an area gem ever since.

Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina, Southfield & Royal Oak

“Biga” literally translates to yeast, the special ingredient that gives Bigalora‘s Neapolitan piecrusts their signature chewy and flavorful qualities. Baked in a 900-degree, wood-burning, custom-built brick oven flown over from Naples, Italy, Pizza Napoletana crusts come out slightly charred. From there, patrons can order their pie red or white (with or without tomato sauce) and select from a long list of toppings that includes baby artichokes, roasted zucchini and fingerling potatoes.

Luigi’s Original, Harrison Twp.

Wood-paneled walls and checkered tablecloths give Luigi’s the Old-World Italian feel you want your neighborhood pizzeria to emanate. A staple in the community for 50+ years, this Italian restaurant is most famous for its pizza. Its dough is hand-tossed into round crusts and crowned with sesame seeds. Crust can also be topped with Parmesan cheese, garlic butter or Cajun seasoning. The Gourmet Veggie (fresh broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, red onions, portobello mushrooms and grated Asiago cheese) has been featured in GQ magazine.

Tomatoes Apizza, Farmington Hills

Named “Michigan’s Best Pizza” by Food Network magazine, Tomatoes Apizza was the first pizzeria to use a coal-fired oven in Michigan. With two locations in Farmington Hills, Tomatoes Apizza offers thin-crust white pizza (mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil), red pizza (red sauce and Pecorino Romano) and green pizza (mozzarella, spinach and garlic) all on a dough made from organic unbleached flour. Owner Michael Weinstein says, “Our pizzas are salty, greasy, chewy, burnt and crispy all at the same time.”

Alex’s Market & Grill, Holly

A gas station that doubles as a gourmet market and grill. Off I-75 at exit 101, Alex’s is known for its pizza sticks. Pizza dough is rolled out then stuffed with pepperoni slices and mozzarella cheese. The dough is then baked and topped with olive oil, garlic seasoning and Parmesan cheese. “It’s like biting into a pepperoni pizza rolled up,” said owner Steve Nannoshi. Specialty pizzas like Alex’s Ultimate are among the most popular traditional pizzas.

Union Woodshop, Clarkston

The Detroit Free Press’ 2011 Restaurant of the Year, Union Woodshop is a hot spot for locals, visitors and celebs alike. Handcrafted, wood-fired pizzas are part of the reason why. The You-Choose pizza allows patrons to top the base pizza with house-made maple bacon, prosciutto or Woodshop Italian sausage among an array of meats. Specialty pizzas include the Chipotle Shrimp (smoked shrimp, red onions, sweet corn and Lockhart spicy sauce).

Pia’s Ristorante Italiana, Taylor

It’s saying something when a restaurant has been in the business of making pizza and pasta for its patrons since 1955. Downriver-ites just call this place Pia’s, and it serves up traditional round pies in perfect old Italian style. The sauce is homemade with just the right balance of spice to sweet, the dough is never heavy and they don’t skimp on the cheese or fresh toppings of choice. Gluten-free options, too. Add an order of calamari and a few cannoli. And please, don’t forget the rolls … the unforgettable garlic rolls.

Pizza Cutter, Northville

Located in a former service garage, Pizza Cutter is a downtown Northville favorite, especially in summer when the patio is open for outdoor dining. Deep-dish, thin-crust and regular-crust offerings are available.

Carryout Pizza

Looking for a good pie on the fly? Fear not. Metro Detroit is chock-full of carry-out only pizzerias for all budgets and taste preferences.

  • Benito’s: With locations throughout metro Detroit, Benito’s is an easy option for your carryout fix. Got a sizable brood to feed? Try the Big Benito covered with 100 pepperonis and cut into 20 foot-long slices.
  • Cloverleaf: This famous pizza place boasts a carryout-only location in Macomb Township, where you can order up the pizzeria’s signature square pizza and enjoy it from wherever you choose.
  • Green Lantern: This much-loved pizza place’s Royal Oak location is carryout-only. Regulars recommend the BLT pizza. All pies come round or square. Thin and deep-dish offerings are available.
  • Hippie’s Pizza: This late-night pizza place in Royal Oak is known for its gluten-free and vegan crusts and toppings. Open until 2 a.m. on weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends, Hippie’s offers a variety of gourmet pizzas, thin, round, square and deep-dish.
  • Little Caesars: Looking for a quick pizza fix that will be easy on your pocketbook? The Little Caesars Hot-N-Ready gets you a $5 plain or pepperoni pie with no wait. And in The D (aka Pizzatown in some circles) you need not look far to find a Little Caesars.
Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Buddy's Pizza - Detroit
    17125 Conant St., Detroit, MI 48212313-892-9001 Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Milano Bakery
    3500 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207313-833-3500 Highlight on map | More Details
  3. Niki's Pizza
    735 Beaubien St., Detroit, MI 48226313-961-4303 Highlight on map | More Details
  4. Supino Pizzeria
    2457 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207313-567-7879 Highlight on map | More Details
  5. The Town Pump Tavern
    100 W. Montcalm St., Detroit, MI 48201313-961-1929 Highlight on map | More Details
  6. Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina
    1777 Third Ave., Detroit, MI 48226313-465-1777 Highlight on map | More Details
  7. PizzaPapalis of Rivertown
    3171 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48207313-259-7272 Highlight on map | More Details
  8. Frank’s Restaurant & Pizzeria
    3144 Biddle Ave, Wyandotte, MI 48192, United States734-282-0512 Highlight on map
  9. Cloverleaf
    24443 Gratiot Ave, Eastpointe, MI 48021, United States586-777-5391 Highlight on map | More Details
  10. Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina
    711 South Main Street, Royal Oak, MI 48067, United States248-544-2442 Highlight on map
  11. Luigi's Original
    36691 Jefferson Ave, Harrison charter Township, MI 48045, United States586-468-7711 Highlight on map | More Details
  12. Tomatoes Apizza
    29275 West 14 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48334, United States248-855-3555 Highlight on map | More Details
  13. Alex's Market & Grill
    6410 Grange Hall Road, Holly, MI 48442, United States248-634-6100 Highlight on map
  14. Union Woodshop
    18 S Main St, Clarkston, MI 48346, United States248-625-5660 Highlight on map | More Details
  15. Pizza Cutter
    340 N Center St, Northville, MI 48167, United States248-348-3333 Highlight on map | More Details
  16. Pia's Ristorante Italiana
    21142 Ecorse Road, Taylor, MI, United States313-383-1309 Highlight on map | More Details
  17. Benito's
    248- 348-2600
  18. Cloverleaf
    48932 Hayes Road, Macomb, MI 48044, United States586-566-8220 Highlight on map | More Details
  19. Green Lantern
    4326 Rochester Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073, United States248-298-3005 Highlight on map | More Details
  20. Hippie's Pizza
    121 East 13 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073, United States248-733-1111 Highlight on map | More Details
  21. Little Caesars