Now that Labor Day
has come and gone again, the culinary question of the day is about to change from “What are we throwing on the grill tonight?” to “What in the world are we going to have for dinner?”
And many times, the allure of pizza is just too much to overcome: it’s quick, simple, and always satisfying. Any pizza is good pizza, but the difference between good and great can be pronounced.
Detroit has always been known for its coney dogs, but the area is no slouch when it comes to this other greasy favorite, either.
With that in mind, here are my personal picks for the Top 5 best pizza places in the Metro Detroit area:
1. Buddy’s Pizza, http://www.buddyspizza.com for locations
The radio commercial for this sit-down or carry-out Detroit original makes a strong boast (paraphrasing): “The corner of Conant and East McNichols should be a state landmark,” and Buddy’s backs it up with the most flavorful and distinct deep dish pizza I’ve ever locked taste buds with.
You could try eating it with a fork, but do so at your own risk as you might catch some flak for it. The crust is pretty thick but is overshadowed by the thickness of the cheese, which is smooth and delicious. The sauce will hit you like a ton of bricks-both in terms of taste and in your stomach if you eat too fast. This is a pizza that is meant to be enjoyed slowly, three or four pieces max, but you’ll savor every bite. The atmosphere in each restaurant is casual and laid-back featuring a bar area and great salads and pastas on the side. And the awards don’t lie. Just check the front page of their website and you’ll see what I mean. Buddy’s has been the gold standard for pizza in Detroit for decades.
2. Pizza Papalis, www.pizzapapalis.com for locations
Sure, it’s a Chicago-style pizza and this is Detroit we’re talking about here. But any pizza good enough to give the venerable Buddy’s a run for its money deserves a spot on this list.
The deep-dish part of the moniker for this pizza comes more from the crust as opposed to the cheese in Buddy’s, but the toppings are nothing to scoff at, either.
The meats and veggies are chunky and flavorful and the sauce is even heavier than Buddy’s, so you’d be wise to savor every bite and stay in the three to four piece range.
Pizza Papalis has picked up its fair share of awards in the past few years and should be a mainstay in Metro Detroit for years to come because the quality speaks to itself and its pizza transcends the standard chain fare.
3. Shield’s Pizza, http://www.shieldspizza.com for locations
Another in the deep dish family of pizzas, Shield’s has been a Detroit mainstay since 1937. It began as a bar and still keeps that setting most of its locations.
This one gets high marks for its golden brown, chewy crust and generous amounts of toppings and comes close to reaching deep dish perfection, having been voted Michigan’s top pizza in 2005 in The Detroit News.
4. Papa Romano’s, www.paparomanos.com for locations
A surprise 2006 winner in The Detroit News, this Southeastern Michigan chain is a versatile place that churns out equally good subs, salads, and round and square pizzas.
Think of it as your typical chain pizza shop, only a cut above in terms of quality ingredients. The specialty here is the Sicilian Deep Dish pizza, a flavorful square with a delicious layer of sauce on top. The cheese-filled breadsticks are a must-order side item, so don’t forget them.
5. Bobalu’s Pizza, 33447 Ford Road Garden City, MI 48135, (734) 427-5200-
A sleeper pick and personal favorite this small pizza shop capitalized on the $5.00 large pizza craze started by Little Caesar’s in Metro Detroit with one important difference-the pizza is high quality all the way. The cheese has great consistency and the crust is crisp and baked to perfection. The price recently grew to $5.66 per large-“Six bucks out the door,” as they put it.
Still, you can’t argue with the price to quality ratio, and you can’t deny the charming beatnik polar bear logo on the box.