The thick, crunchy, cheesy kind of pizza known as Detroit-style has become a national trend — with even Pizza Hut getting on board, and if any city deserves credit for making that happen, it's Dallas, which has seen a number of concepts pop up since the pandemic hit.
The latest comes with legit credentials: It's not only named for Detroit, it's by a native who knows his stuff. Called Motor City Pizza, it's a carry-out pop-up based in Lewisville from restaurateur Greg Tierney, who launched the concept in October 2020.
"I grew up eating it, so I absolutely love this style," Tierney says. "It's rectangular deep dish but not heavy deep dish. It's light and airy, and kind of fluffy, but crispy around edges."
"To do it authentically, you must use Wisconsin brick cheese, which you sprinkle on the pizza from edge to edge," he says. "As it cooks, it caramelizes in the blue steel pan. That's also essential for Detroit-style pizza, that you use that kind of pan with high sides. After it's baked, you put on the sauce, then add old-world toppings like pepperoni, another key to the Detroit style."
Tierney is a food & beverage veteran who moved from Detroit to Dallas in 1994 after graduating from Michigan State with a degree in hotel and restaurant management. He's owned his own restaurants including Tierney's Cafe and Tavern and Mill St. Cafe, both in Lewisville, and Duck Inn in Lake Dallas.
Motor City was inspired by a 2014 visit to Via 313, the Detroit-style pizza pioneer in Austin.
"It was really authentic, and at the time no one in Dallas was doing it," Tierney says. "I went to Detroit and got to study with Shawn Randazzo, who helped put Detroit-style pizza on the map."
Motor City's menu features seven varieties of Detroit-style pizza, plus an option to create your own. The Supreme has pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. There's a veggie with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach, and a "Greektown" with black and green olives, red onion, spinach, tomato, and feta cheese, topped with Greek dressing. Prices range from $11 to $16.
As the business has taken off, Tierney has added a quartet of salads including an antipasto with deli meats, veggies, pepperoncini, and shredded cheese; and appetizers including wings and a unique signature dish called Potato Chip Chicken, with chicken strips coated in crushed-up potato chips and fried.
"It's a simple dish but it's become wildly popular," Tierney says.
"We take orders on Wednesday and Thursday, and everything is online, so you just come and pick up your pizza at a pre-set time," he says.
He's also offering a take-and-bake option in which the pizza is baked halfway through so you can finish it off in your oven at home.
Eventually, he'll open a brick-and-mortar location because he can't keep up with the demand.
"When I launched this, I wondered if it were too late, but Detroit-style pizza is now the fastest-growing kind of pizza in the country," he says.