Say it with us: "Detroit-style pizza.
"Every day, people come into Jeff Smokevitch's stylish Brown Dog Saloon in Telluride, Colo., take a look at his menu and ask, "What's Detroit pizza? It's like Chicago, right?"No, it is not.And it isn’t like New York, New Haven, California, Neapolitan or Sicilian pizza. It's distinctly Detroit-style, and Brown Dog customers -- who had never heard of Detroit-style pizza two and a half years ago -- now can’t get enough of it."Every single time, they're blown away by it. They'll come back and get it again and again," said Smokevitch, 36, a Birmingham native and former University of Michigan football player .Unlike New York's thin, wide, floppy pizzas and Chicago's burly deep-dish ones, Detroit's thick, square pies -- first made at Buddy's Rendezvous in Detroit in 1946 -- have never been able to make a dent in the national consciousness.
Buddy's itself wins scores of awards and often makes national best-pizza lists. But with its stores confined to metro Detroit, its thick but airy crusts and crunchy, cheesy, square corners remain mostly unknown elsewhere.Finally, though, that seems to be changing, thanks to recent high-profile wins by Detroit-style pizzas in national and international competitions, the success of new Detroit-style pizzerias in other cities and a new generation of Detroit pizza believers like Shawn Randazzo of Roseville. They want to see "Detroit-style pizza" mentioned with the same familiarity and respect given to Chicago's or New York's famous styles -- and sooner rather than later.Think it sounds farfetched? They and other experts said they believe it's only a matter of time.Randazzo, 37, has just finished his reign as the Las Vegas International Pizza Expo's 2012 world champion pizza maker -- a title no one had ever won with a Detroit-style pie. Actually, most of the judges had never even heard of that style.You could dismiss the win as a fluke, except that another Detroit-style pizza -- this one, prepared by Smokevitch -- nearly repeated the win earlier this month. After winning first place in the American Pan division to advance to the 2013 championship round, Smokevitch came in second overall."And I was going up against three Italians in the finals," he said with much pride. "They do really well. They know how to make pizza in Italy."It's successes like those that make Randazzo believe Detroit-style pizza can become a nationally recognized style. He even goes so far as to predict it will happen in the next eight to 10 years. Can’t wait to see if that’s true and can’t wait to try a bite of this new style pizza!