Detroit Pizza London, 75 Commercial St, London E1 6BD

- Review -

Detroit Pizza London: Righteous slabs of satisfaction

The last time I delved into Detroit-style pizza was last year at the Four Corners residency at Rondo La Cave. Overall they were good slices but made the cardinal error of using cheddar cheese. Sure, the crisp base, thick, fluffy dough and cheddar can evoke all the comfort of a cheese toastie but for pizza, it’s too strong and the texture doesn’t work. There’s also the wounding potential of a cheese toastie: the molten heat and most unpleasant of all, when it’s housed in sourdough so the crust eats like glass. All the salt and acid find their way into the lacerations and you start pushing dead skin from the roof of your mouth to make way for even more pain. This, unfortunately, was my experience of Four Corners.

And then there was Detroit Pizza in Shoreditch, courtesy of owner Ryan O’Flynn.

Gazing at the fairly varied menu, the ‘Detroit’ pie feels like an obligatory order, bustling with pepperoni, jalapeño, honey, parsley and parmesan as standard. Adding thick-cut chestnut mushrooms much to the approval of sous chef Nate Novick, they’re plump and tender despite not appearing to have been par-cooked beforehand; something that I thought should otherwise become law.

Like with any pie worth its grease, it all starts with the dough.

From the bottom-up is a base sturdy with a deep caramelisation fading into a thoroughly proved dough that's billowingly fluffy and submits completely to the teeth. The apex of the pepperoni slices are cooked to that crispness that turns to dust with any pressure whilst the inner circle is that meaty, fatty chew. The honey is omnipresent but never sickly, tempering the odd blast of jalapeño.

But it’s the ‘Double Bacon Cheeseburger’ pie I’m finding difficult to ignore. I’ve written before about my love for elevated versions of junk but what about elevated versions of junk that are elevating the junkiest junk? Billed as coming with ‘Big Mac’ sauce, it’s a confident move- a ubiquitous sauce that I’m certain every palate tastes the same way. And this lot nailed it- not just mostly, but down to the molecule.

I have visions of Ryan and Nate at a workbench, illuminated by a solitary bulb gently swinging, analysing the sauce through the microscope of a home chemistry kit, surrounded by discarded Big Mac boxes, middle buns scraped clean and patties stacked neatly in the bin. Or they bought the sauce. I’ve just Googled that it is indeed for sale. Research is a cornerstone of my style, clearly.

Just like the pie before it, the first bite reveals a cross-section boasting thoughtful construction at every layer. There’s the lightest touch of tomato sauce here, but along with the judicious throws of mozzarella is more deployed as adhesive for the minced beef, onions and bacon. A square of the fabled plastic cheese takes the centre of each slice and gently wilts under the residual heat before being crowned with pickles almost as thick as the first 50p’s.

The brine is a moreish ratio of 60:40 sweet to sour and bursting with juicy crunch- a far cry from the insipid, seasick green limpets they’re based on. Peter North-grade lashing of Big Mac Sauce streak across the whole pie in ideal quantities- at no point is a bite over-sauced or dry. Sesame seeds are the final touch which, even if you’re not a fan, you have to note the unwavering attention to detail. Such is the spiritual balance of this pizza as a whole, I found myself whispering ‘namaste’ into the napkin wiping away my Joker smile of Mac sauce.

But it’s the edges- that doily of caramelised cheese lace- that differ from the skewering palisades of pies past. Frangible and thin, Detroit Pizza’s lacing still adds a crisp texture and deep, caramelised notes, without the mouth-shredding fury. The only advice I’d furnish you with is to go for the small as it’s four slices- ensuring every piece is a corner that won’t put your mouth in a volcanic blender.