With so many different varieties across the globe, it is easy to understand why people call pizza their favorite food. Interestingly, the first known pizza dates back to ancient Greece. The Greek’s made large loaves of flat, round bread and topped them with things like potatoes, vegetables, and olive oil. Pizza has come a long way since those days and has evolved into a culinary delight reflecting the styles of different regions worldwide. In Detroit, we have a love affair with pizza and much like other cities, believe our pizza is the best, especially our deep-dish Detroit-style.
This square pie is known for its unmistakable crispy golden crust with a chewy interior. The coveted corner piece will often be in high demand for the “golden corner” where the cheesy topping will caramelize between the pan and the crust creating a mouth-watering delicious final bite. This culinary masterpiece is topped with a zesty tomato sauce with a variety of herbs and spices for a little extra zip.
I’ve been on the hunt for the best vegan deep-dish Detroit-style pizza in Detroit. Check out my contenders and see who I think has the best Detroit-style ‘za in town!
The first stop on my journey is about 15 minutes north of downtown Detroit in Royal Oak.
The Best Places for Vegan Detroit-Style Pizza
1220 E. Eleven Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI, 48067
This family-owned business opened in 2019 by award-winning pizza chef, Shawn Randazzo. I ordered a small vegan cheese pizza, for about $11. Palazzo Di Pizza uses Daiya cheese on their vegan pizza, but they add some spices directly to the cheese, which gives the typically bland Daiya more flavor. The cheese was perfectly melted and then topped with a zesty homemade tomato sauce. Their sauce needed some fresh basil – that would have made it over the top. All in all, I found this deep-dish vegan Detroit-style pizza to be the perfect balance of a crispy, and chewy crust, with melty vegan cheese, and tangy tomato sauce.
22812 Woodward Ave #100, Ferndale, MI 48220
In May of 2019, with new ownership and a refreshed look, Como’s reopened with a new plan. Gone are the days of New York style pizzas being made in the front window, replaced by a menu focused on Detroit-style pizzas. I tried a small vegan cheese pizza made with Violife, their menu has a variety of different toppings, including broccoli, kale, roasted garlic, tomato, spinach, basil, dill, cilantro, and Calabrian chilies. The small vegan cheese pizza was $15.50.
I was excited to try the pizza, but when I got home, I was a little disappointed to find a very small amount of sauce spread on top of the pie. The crust was light, airy, and crunchy on the bottom, but not quite a golden-brown color. I think the pizza could have been left in the oven a few more minutes or perhaps the temperature could have been increased a few degrees. The scant amount of sauce was problematic, and portions of the pizza tasted a bit too dry without enough sauce. The sauce itself was quite good, made of crushed tomatoes, onion, oregano, salt, and basil.
My pizza adventure continues to Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood with a stop at a vegan-friendly spot specializing in deep-dish Detroit-style pizza.
2135 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
Grandma Bob’s is a unique pizza joint offering a wide variety of handmade pizzas, as well as other tasty fare. Their menu features a few vegan pizzas like the “Big Mack”, topped with impossible burger crumble, vegan mozzarella, vegan thousand island, pickles, onions, and lettuce. I ordered a vegan pepperoni pizza, which was $17 for a six-square pizza. Grandma Bob’s uses Violife mozzarella as well as Violife parm and Violife cheddar on top of their pies! My pizza had plenty of sauce, the right amount of cheese, and the elusive “golden corner”. In addition, the sauce was tangy and had a perfect consistency. I didn’t detect any basil in the sauce but did taste some oregano. The only negative mark I would give on this pizza is that the bottom of the crust wasn’t as crunchy as I would have liked, but it was tasty!
Pro tip: If you order take-away pizza but it is a little undercooked, put the pie on a baking sheet and let it warm up with the oven as it heats to 350 degrees. This will not only warm up your pizza but also make a blonde pizza crispier.
Next up, the OG of Detroit-style pizza!
Various locations throughout Metro Detroit.
In Metro Detroit, a few pizza joints claim to be the inventors of Detroit-style pizza. If you ask a local, you are most likely going to hear about a few different favorites, but Detroiters know the original Detroit-style pizza comes from Buddy’s. This Metro Detroit chain has locations across Metro Detroit. I have to be honest, when I was thinking about what pizza places belong on my list, I figured Buddy’s would more or less be an add-on. I didn’t expect more than an overcooked and bland Daiya cheese pizza. I ordered the veggie pizza, topped with onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes. It was surprisingly delicious and reminded me of getting Buddy’s as a kid! The crust was crispy on the bottom and chewy on the inside and the sauce wasn’t too thin or too thick and had the right amount of spice to it. In fact, the sauce and the toppings almost made me forget the cheese was Daiya. I found it a little strange that they use large slices of tomato on top of the pizza, but they worked on this pie. Buddy’s has been in business since 1946 and for good reason: they do deep-dish Detroit-style pizza right! A four-square vegan veggie will run you $12.99.
My last stop before I rank the best vegan deep-dish Detroit-style pizza in Detroit is a great place for unique vegan pies.
5163 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48208
Located in the Woodbridge Neighborhood in Detroit, Pie Sci offers a seasonal menu of interesting and delicious pizzas. Their menu is full of different creations with many vegan options. They use either Follow Your Heart mozzarella or housemade cashew cheese and have a bunch of different creative toppings, like cauliflower-walnut mock chorizo. I ordered their “Taco’s Modern Life,” which was topped with garlic oil, Follow Your Heart mozzarella, cauliflower-walnut mock chorizo, roasted corn, radish slaw, white onion, cilantro, and lime and a “Veggie D” (don’t judge, I couldn’t decide, so I got both!). The pizza was cooked perfectly with a crisp exterior, chewy interior and the toppings were abundant. The sauce had the perfect blend of herbs and spices, which didn’t overpower the sweetness of the tomato. The pizzas were both very tasty!
Detroit-Style Vegan Pizza Rankings
Now that I’ve visited five Metro Detroit pizza joints serving some of the best vegan Detroit-style pizza, it’s time to rank them. I ranked them based on the best blend of crispy crust with a chewy interior, most flavorful sauce, and the best vegan topping options. This was a close contest, but there can only be one winner:
1. Pie Sci – The winner is hands down Pie Sci! While this pizza joint offers loads of vegan toppings, they also make a perfect crust with a sauce that has the right blend of herbs and spices. Pie Sci does vegan pizza right and for my money, a trip to Detroit isn’t complete without a visit to taste one of their delicious creations.
2. Buddy’s – The OG! There is just something about Buddy’s sauce and their crust was perfect. Buddy’s is a Detroit original and it is worth trying.
3. Grandma Bob’s – This is an amazing option for great vegan pizza! It was very close between second place and third place. The crust wasn’t quite as crispy as I would have liked, but they offer a great variety of vegan options. It is worth a visit!
4. Palazzo Di Pizza – I enjoyed their sauce and like that they season their Daiya cheese, but when I visited the crust wasn’t quite as crisp and chewy as I’d prefer. They also don’t offer a signature vegan pizza.
5. Como’s – Although their crust was perfectly crispy, they missed the mark on their sauce.