BY: KIEL WATSON
A metro Detroit area pizza mainstay, Buddy’s has been operating out of its original location on Conant Street in Detroit since its founding in 1930’s. Over the years, 10 more locations have been opened, including one a very convenient five-minute drive from campus.
For a lot of locals, it’s just another restaurant on the daily drive. Featured on the Food Network as one of the best five pizzerias in the country, there’s a lot more to the food here than your pizza place down the street. For those interested one of the other top five, Grimaldi’s of Brooklyn recently opened a location in Southland Mall.
In the 1930’s, Buddy’s was operated by the original owner August “Gus” Guerra as a blind pig; an illegal bar operating during prohibition. After prohibition was over, the business was struggling due to the effects on the economy by WWII and to bring in customers, Sicilian style pizza was added to the menu. The restaurant changed hands a few times over the years, eventually being purchased by Bill and Shirlee Jacobs in 1970. It is currently operated by their son, Robert Jacobs.
In 1946, Buddy’s began making its signature square pizzas, a style that has become synonymous with Detroit. While Chicago has their deep-dish casserole style pie, and New York is famous for its thinner hand tossed crust and wide slices, Detroit went its own way.
Unlike its imitators at many locations in the metro area, Buddy’s uses cast iron pans to bake its pies. It’s the attention to little details that makes their food stand out. While a lot of places say they only use fresh ingredients, the pizza here leaves you with no doubt. The mushrooms are unmistakably fresh, as is the basil, cilantro. You can find many less traditional toppings such as artichokes, pine nuts and capers as well in their vast selection of toppings.
The signature pizza selection shows a love of food and the city of Detroit with artisanal pizzas named after local institutions such as the Detroit Zoo (Motor City cheese blend, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, pine nuts and tomato basil sauce) and the Henry Ford (Motor City cheese blend, red onion, seasoned ground beef, smoked bacon, bleu cheese and tomato basil sauce). They’ve even crafted specialty pizzas for each of the Great Lakes.
Over the years the menu has been expanded to feature burgers, sandwiches and pasta. Soups are made from scratch with the same fresh ingredients as the pizza, and they have breadsticks as you might expect. But the amazingly delicious Buddy Bread is diminished by simply calling them breadsticks; this humble reviewer has gone to Buddy’s to pick up Buddy Bread for the spaghetti that was being made at home.
Buddy’s is all about options. While they have many specialty pizzas, toppings aside, you can customize your pie with different sauce choices and cheese blends. Vegan? They have a dairy-free pizza for you. Want a multigrain crust? It’s there. Gluten sensitive? Order a regular pizza because the scientists that originally reported gluten sensitivity say it never existed. But if you’re trying to cut carbs or dealing with Celiac disease they have gluten free crust, too.
The pizza itself is wonderful, with a golden crunchy crust and flavorful sauce With a combination of fresh ingredients, attentive staff and good atmosphere Buddy’s Pizza is a must-try for natives and out of town visitors alike.