There are two places to get Detroit-style pizza in Reno now. Pizzeria Lupo, which opened last year, and newcomer R Town Pizza are both serving up these decadent and delicious pies. And that is so, so great.
If you’ve never had this style of pizza, please excuse my enthusiasm.
I first imbibed Detroit-style pizza (DSP) in 2017 in Austin, Texas at the amazing little shack known as Via 313 – which is highly recommended if you’re in the area.
There’s a whole culture and history behind DSP that makes what you’re eating even more pronounced. Think Detroit and its auto workers.
“The key ingredient in a proper Detroit-style pizza isn’t’ something you eat – it’s the pan,” The Pure Michigan website notes. “Detroit-style pizza, a descendent of Sicilian-style pizza, traces its roots to one man – Gus Guerra. In 1946, Gus owned what was then a neighborhood bar, Buddy’s Rendezvous, when he decided he needed something new for the menu.”
Guerra purportedly got his pans from auto workers.
“The pans are a thick steel that are more similar to a cast iron skillet than a cake pan. Legend has it that Gus got his initial batch of pans from a friend who worked in a factory that used the pans for spare parts. Detroiters have been fighting for corner slices ever since,” Pure Michigan notes.
DSP only slowly caught on in the rest of the states. It started becoming more popular in the early 2010s.
But it’s not just the pans. My friend Dan Steinmetz, who helped build R Town’s interior, joined my wife and I at R Town’s opening Sunday and explained the process for making DSP.
Dan is an amatuer DSP cook, and his social media posts prove it. He is far more knowledgeable about DSP than I am.
He explained that dough is handled differently from normal pizza dough and is dry-baked for a day or longer. The use of brick cheese – a staple of Wisconsin – on top of the dough helps give DSP a chewy, fimer edge on top of the crust. Tomato sauce is drizzled on top of the cheese and toppings, a reverse of what we’re used to with many pizza styles.
The pizza is cooked at a high temperature. Online sources say restaurants shoot for somewhere between 440 to 700 degrees.
The result is a smallish thick rectangle or square of mouthwatering, very chewy pie.
R Town opened Sunday at 4 p.m. After 15 minutes, the place was full. By 5:30 they had so much demand lined up they stopped taking orders.
We had to wait a good hour before we could even order anything other than drinks. That alone is a testament to the demand R Town can generate.
R Town offers not just pizza. They also offer grinders, wings, poppers, garlic cheese bread and salads. There’s also a bar with a limited beer and wine selection.
We opted for pepperoni at R Town. It was delicious, like biting into super tender meat – dough, cheese and all. It was good. Really good. It will be even better when they dial in their processes.
I know I will be back. R Town signs and its website still say “coming soon” so call ahead to ensure hours and availability.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.