Pants Primer: Emmy Squared and Detroit Style Pizza

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Emmy Squared is one of the most talked about, photographed restaurants to open in New York City (Brooklyn) in a long time. The appeal is easy to understand: The husband and wife team of Matthew and Emily Hyland are affable hosts and talented chefs, and the food is perfection. Dining at Emmy Squared is laid back and professional at the same time, approachable but impressive all at once.  The menu is essentially elevated bar (dare I say stoner) food: fried cheese, chicken parm on pretzel bread, a KILLER off the menu burger, and of course the pizza. There are some salads as well, and I am sure they are fantastic, but, we are not here to talk about salads.

@boozeandburgers knows its hip to be square


I love pizza about as much as any person can, or should admit to. The Emmy Squared pizza is a revelation- a cheesy, crunchy, chewy wonder that almost defies comparison.  This “Detroit-inspired” pizza was truly unique, and a genre of pizza that I was completely unfamiliar with. I have heard that Buddy’s is THE place for pizza in Detroit, and I am still down for a field trip, but….Detroit. Short of booking a ticket, to supplement my research I consulted my source for all things meat (and self-described “Detroit Pizza fanatic”) Rev Ciancio, Director of Marketing for Schweid and Sons, and generally knowledgeable guy.

I learned that Detroit style pizza can be defined by three characteristics: thick, square shape; sauce on top; and “brick cheese.”

The reason for the square shape of Detroit pizza’s is tied to Detroit’s (other) most famous product: the auto industry. Detroit pizza is baked in a tray that was originally intended to hold industrial auto parts, traditionally made of blue steel (insert Zoolander joke here). The pan and cooking method gives the pizza its signature deep-dish form and crunchy crust, which gets an extra bite from the cheese that melts on to the crust. The center of the pizza however remains chewy, offering a perfect contrast to the crust, but corner pieces are still the most coveted.

Please don't drool on your screen
Please don’t drool on your screen

Most people in New York associate square pizza with “Sicilian,” pizza, and although the term might not be completely accurate, square Detroit- style pizza shares common characteristics with sfincione, the traditional Sicilian focaccia from which that common idea of Sicilian pizza is derived. “Sfincione” means “thick sponge” and the dough used for Sicilian pizza is most closely based on this recipe; this accounts for the more porous, less dense base.

Detroit pizza is often made with “brick cheese”, which has a higher fat content than the mozzarella  commonly used on pizza. Since the dough contains no oil, the thickness of this cheese helps to impart some buttery flavor, and it spreads as it melts to contribute to the crunchy, cheesy crust. The sauce is also different- more robust and acidic, and always placed last on the pizza, meaning it is on top of the cheese, and on top of the toppings. In a nod to the hearty reputation of the Midwest, toppings on Detroit pizza tend to be quite heavy.

So – how does Emmy Squared compare to traditional Detroit pizza?  According to our expert, Rev, “They do just about everything right.  It’s the closest thing you will find to Buddy’s or Pizza Papalis (my personal fave) outside of ‘the D,’ as I like to call my hometown. Matt Hyland puts a unique NYC spin on it with some of his toppings and builds, using influence from both local New York palates and more traditional Italian-style pies. I love this pizza.”


If you want to learn more, check out Rev speaking with Wes Pikula from Buddy’s Pizza

If you are a more hands/mouth-on type learner, go to Emmy Squared and conduct some “research.” Personally, I am on a mission to try every option offered.  If you want to go to Detroit with me, let me know…

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