Motor City Pizza Party: Downtown Pie Makers Go Gourmet

Metro Detroiters are familiar with Detroit mainstay pizzerias like Buddy's and Pizza Papalis, and let's be honest: the $5.00 Hot-n-Readys from Little Caesar's are a great friggin' deal. But in the last year, Detroit pizza has taken on a new identity -- one that doesn't emphasize the fast-and-cheap so much as taste and quality. (GQ even noticed, naming us the No. 3 pizza town in the country.) We've seen an upswing of new pizzerias that cater to the pizza lover with a discriminating palate, and die-hard pizza aficionados couldn't be happier.

Angelina Italian Bistro
, 1565 Broadway St., Downtown
Though it might not be a "pizzeria" in the traditional sense, Angelina Italian Bistro offers a variety of cracker-thin-crust pizzas that would satisfy the gourmet cravings of even the most discriminating diner. Having just opened last fall, Angelina has already situated itself firmly in the Detroit dining scene for its fresh homemade pastas, authentic Sicilian cuisine, and welcoming atmosphere. Try the Primavera Pizza (perfect for vegetarians!), or the classic Margarita. Angelina is open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Look for weekday happy hour specials coming soon, and I'll let you in on a little secret: their martinis are some of the best in the city. Shhhh …

Motor City Brewing Works
, 470 W. Canfield, Midtown
You already know the name: Motor City Brewing Works has been a Midtown staple for several years, offering up fresh seasonal brews as well as the now-infamous Ghettoblaster beer, which you can find on tap at any local bar worth its muster. What you might not know is that last year they installed a brick pizza oven and now serve up some of the best 'za in the city, with such quirky toppings as gorgonzola cheese, smoked clams, and habanero sauce. Choose from one of their 13 specialty pizzas or build your own from a choice of 4 sauces, 6 cheeses, 14 fruits and veggies, 6 meats, and 3 different herbs and spices. Not too shabby for a tiny little brewpub, eh? Pizzaman Dan Carsella says that the choice to serve pizza was an easy one: pre-brick oven, patrons would come in with pizza boxes from other locations to enjoy with Motor City's brews. Their kitchen is open every night until midnight, and Friday and Saturday 'til 1 a.m.), so that long after most other kitchens have closed you can still soak up all that beer with some much-needed carbs. My favorite time to go is on Sundays around 10 p.m. when you can easily find a seat and bartender Sarah will always provide friendly conversation.

Supino Pizzeria, 2457 Russell St., Eastern Market
If a year ago you would have told me that one of the best pizzas I'd ever had would come from a tiny little joint in Eastern Market, I would have laughed loudly and impolitely in your face. But that was then, before Supino Pizzeria opened, and this is now. Supino offers a classic Napoletana-style pie, with a hand-tossed medium-thin crust flavored with extra virgin olive oil and organic flour. If a pizza had the power to change lives, then mine has never been the same since I discovered the "Affumiciata", or "smoky," pie. Smoked prosciutto, roasted garlic, mozzarella, smoked gouda, and ricotta … absolute perfection. It was a divine experience. I may have even cried a little. Dave Mancini decided to open this superior pizzeria out of both a passion for the city and what he saw as the city's desperate need for a really good pie. And to think, his love of pizza all started with him trying to impress a girl. Well, Dave, you impressed me. Supino is open Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Pizza is offered by the slice all day, but stop in during lunchtime for a specialty slice or on Saturdays for a slice made from ingredients plucked fresh from the market that day.

Taste Pizzabar, 1431 Times Square, Detroit
Part pizzeria, part ultra-lounge, and entirely unique to the Detroit dining scene, Taste Pizzabar exploded onto the culinary radar in January with rave reviews (including one from your truly) and some truly top-notch pizza. All dough is made fresh daily by passionate dough-maker/baker Dale Daniels, and the difference is in the "taste" (so to speak); the soft, chewy crust has so much flavor and texture you could just eat it by itself. But don't! With options such as the incredibly decadent "Shrooms" (with oven-roasted crimini, portabella, shitake, and oyster mushrooms), and aptly-named "Ocean 21" (scallops, lobster, and shrimp in a white sauce with roasted red peppers, garlic, grilled onions, and smoked mozzarella -- for $21), the expertly-crafted and well-balanced dough is just the beginning of a full-on gourmet pizza experience. Take advantage of their daily lunch specials: a 6'' personal pizza with a side salad is only $6.50 (served until 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, select pizzas). If you're in a time crunch for lunch, stop in Monday or Tuesday when the crowds are a bit less, well, crowded. Taste is also perfect for the late-night munchies -- the kitchen is open daily until 2 a.m.

Lefty's Lounge, 5440 Cass Ave., Midtown
Sure, this one might be a bit unexpected, as it does not fit in with the more trendy "gourmet" hotspots above, but that doesn't make their pizza any less delicious. Open one year this June, Lefty's Lounge is a new addition to the Wayne State area and is known as a pretty classic sports bar and grill, but I have to say, Lefty's makes a damn good pizza: ooey-gooey dripping with cheese, a soft and buttery crust, and lots of meat you want. Tuesdays offer the most bang for your buck, with $8 for a large (that would be a 16'', not 12'') 2-topping pie that could feed a family of four for days. They might not offer all the same frou-frou toppings as Detroit's new gourmets, but this is a straightforward pepperoni-and-cheese kind of pizza that can't be beat. Pizza and burgers are served every day 11 a.m. until close (Sundays at midnight, Mondays and Tuesdays 1 a.m., 2 a.m. the rest of the week), so make this your new late-night stumble-to destination.

Nicole Rupersburg likes Detroit and eating.  She lives on Facebook and likes new friends.  She also writes this blog:


Angelinas Italian Bistro

Motor City Brewing Works

Supino Pizzeria

Taste Pizza

Lefty's Lounge

Photographs by Detroit Photographer Marvin Shaouni Marvin Shaouni is the Managing Photographer for Metromode & Model Contact Marvin here

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Nicole Rupersburg is a former Detroiter now in Las Vegas who regularly writes about food, drink, and urban innovators. You can follow her on Instagram @eatsdrinksandleaves and Twitter @ruperstarski.