The rule is that "it takes three to make a trend," and Dallas has passed that threshold when it comes to the category of pizza known as Detroit-style, with a new purveyor who has set up shop.
Called Rock City 'Za, it's a to-go concept from a Detroit native who has gone to the town where it theoretically began and studied the craft.
Rock City's founder is Mark Slaughter, which is a great name for a guy doing a concept called Rock City. (Mark Slaughter is also the name of the singer of hard rock band Slaughter. And while we're here, "Detroit Rock City" is the 2006 KISS song that has sort of become an alternate nickname for Detroit. 'Za stands for pizza.)
Slaughter grew up in Fraser, outside Detroit (just like Peter Colombo, founder of Alfonso's Italian Restaurant, who also recently debuted a Detroit pizza concept) and had enjoyed a Detroit pizza he'd tried by Via 313 in Austin. But he'd never been a cook.
"My wife Kary owns a home meal delivery company called Baller Mom Meals, and I work with her, but I'd never made pizza," he says. "So I went to Detroit earlier this summer. I went to one of the sources, and learned that the most important thing was to learn how to make the dough. Once I perfected that, I felt like I could make pizza."
He lists the five traits that make a Detroit style pizza. Bullets!
- hydration level of the dough
- square shape
- taking the cheese to the very edge
- the deep dish style of crust and pan
- putting the sauce on top
"Nothing is original, you just want to try and improve on what has been taught," he says. "I've had people tell me that mine is as good as Buddy's, which is the place in Detroit most famous for doing it."
He has six options on his menu:
- simple cheese
- Detroiter, with pepperoni – "What make ours unique is that the pepperoni goes under the cheese and I also put it on top," he says.
- Texan, with pepperoni and jalapeno
- the Lefty, with sausage and mushroom
- Motherload, with pepperoni, sausage, onion, pepper, mushroom, jalapeno, black olive, and tomato
- Veggie, with mushroom, tomato, black olive, green pepper
He also just added a new one: Buffalo chicken, with a spicy Buffalo sauce standing in for tomato, and drizzled with ranch. So really, that's seven.
He's baking out of a commercial kitchen in North Dallas, whose address he divulges once you place your order. It's one price, $13, regardless of variety. At 8X10 inches, his are a little smaller than what else is out there, but it can easily feed two adults.
"And there are some who can only eat a slice — it's filling," he says.
"I'm limiting it right now because I sell out every week," he says.
Rock City 'Za joins Alfonso's ghost concept BigD Pizza, as well as Thunderbird Pies, the Detroit-style pizza being hosted at Zoli's in North Dallas; and 8 Mile Pies, an indie ghost kitchen that just formed a partnership with Neighborhood Goods, the cool alternative department store at Plano's Legacy West, where they're serving pizza every Tuesday night.
"Detroit pizza has been a big thing this summer because people aren't going out and they want to try something new," Slaughter says. "I got to the party a little late but there's still plenty of room."