Sunday, February 21, 2016

Restaurant Review: Buddy's Pizza

A Detroit Icon. . . 

Buddy’s Square Deep Dish Pizza

Many people probably don’t automatically think “pizza” when they think of Metro Detroit but we do have some claim to fame, according to at least a few sources, including Pizza Today as seen in this article in Crain’s Detroit Business. This was really to do more with chain pizza sales (think Little Caesar’s and Domino’s, both based in Michigan, along with Hungry Howie’s) but it does speak to the fact that locals here really like pizza.

When you think of deep dish, you might think more of a Chicago pie, such as Geno’s or Lou Manati’s, both very good. I have been known to navigate my travels in Chicago to include a slice every time I go. Detroit’s version of Deep Dish is just different and Buddy’s Pizza really is what comes to mind when you talk Detroit Deep Dish.

Buddy’s has multiple locations in the area, including some that just offer carry out. It had been years since I visited the original location and last night we were up for an adventure. The original Buddy’s is located on McNichols (a.k.a. “Six Mile Road) at the corner of Conant. It’s very close to both Highland Park and Hamtramck.  It’s a nostalgic trip and worth the drive even if I could get carry out five minutes from my house at the Royal Oak Woodward location. Part of it is the atmosphere, and at least a good portion of it is those original pizza pans. Yes, there are red checked tablecloths, and an Italian color scheme.

Lake Huron with Pine Nuts
This is not a fancy place but it’s clean and inviting. We were on the main floor where quite a few tables are jammed in before you descend into the bar. In the summer they have Bocce Ball outside. In our short time there we saw a real diverse crowd; including families, young adults, and some Detroit police officers in uniform. One girl near us had flaming magenta hair with furry black cat ears. A group walked in that looked like they had time traveled from the 80’s and were on their way to a bar after this stop. The people watching was really an added bonus.

I haven’t been at this location in over twenty years so for me it was a blast from the past. The pizza is the same but over the years they have added many more choices to the menu, including some more gourmet varieties and items. While Buddy’s has always boasted about putting the pepperoni under the cheese to prevent burning, they now officially offer pizza choices that include the meats on top of the cheese. We ordered three different pies during our trip to accommodate different tastes. I split a Lake Huron 4 piece with my friend from the Great Lakes Collection. This was traditional deep dish with roasted tomatoes, spinach and artichoke blend, along with fresh spinach. It comes with a lemon wedge that added that little something. Because we had trouble deciding between this and another pizza, we asked them to add fresh pine nuts. We also ordered a Motown Museum Pizza from the Motor City Pizza collection, which included Motor City cheese blend, pepperoni (on top, curled and crispy) and bacon. My daughter ordered a custom build, with turkey, ham and sliced pineapple (she stressed the sliced pineapple as opposed to diced, somehow this was very important).

Motown Museum
What makes Buddy’s pizza different is that crust, especially the corners that are crispy and buttery. This not your normal pizza dough texture and that's what makes it special. The pizza is then loaded with a ton of cheese (now with different choices in that area as well) along with sauce and toppings. These pizzas are very generous, and are offered in both a 4 piece and an 8 piece. Two pieces of Buddy’s Pizza is more than enough for me but I really do like leftovers the next day. Tip of the Day: Reheating pizza? Use a nonstick frying pan and heat from the bottom. It will taste like it just came out of the oven.

It’s important to note, well in my world anyways, that there are
Custom Pizza
also plenty of drinks to choose from including a nice range of beers. I had a Buddy’s Brew, which was a wheat beer with coriander, lemon peel and grapefruit. It was on draft and made by Griffin Claw. There were plenty of choices in bottles as well as wine, and a few limited cocktails although I’m sure the bar there could make just about anything.

I plan on visiting again soon and won’t wait another 20+ years to enjoy this place. Next time we are going to add a salad. Once we saw them at the other tables we were sorry we didn’t get one!

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