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Detroit-style pizza at Tony's Coal-Fired

Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2010 02:17 PM

Anybody tried it?



Tony's Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House
1556 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

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  1. Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2010 03:36 PM

    Adam Kubans 2010 pizza recap included a photo of this one from Loui's in Hazel Park, MI.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      mdg RE: Melanie Wong Dec 22, 2010 05:40 PM

      OMG! Robert and Melanie, if this is the real thing I'll be even more indebted to you for this pointer!

      I have never seen Detroit square pizza outside of the Detroit area. I was hoping that the publicity from Alan Richman's GQ article last year about the 25 best pizzas in America might help get things going, and maybe it has.

      Detroit square pizza ia a pan pizza with a thicker crust that is crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. A properly made Detroit pizza crust is one of the wonders of the culinary world. Taste priorities are crust, cheese, then sauce and toppings. Traditionally the toppings go under the cheese which goes under the sauce, thus the "red top" though I never heard that lingo in Detroit.

      It's a hike to SF so I'll have to call them to make sure it's available, but I have to try this out soon. It would be fabulous to have this locally.

      Buddy's claims to have been making this since 1946, but I only remember it getting popular sometime around the late 60s / early 70s.



      1. re: mdg
        Melanie Wong RE: mdg Dec 22, 2010 11:00 PM

        Interestingly, Detroit red top is not on the opening menu published in grubstreet
        Tony must have gotten Detroit pizza religion more recently,

    2. m
      mdg RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2010 05:48 PM

      My Chowhound review from my visit back to Loui's this summer, part of a great discussion of Loui's, is at:


      Here are a couple of pictures from our lunch at Loui's. You can see the cheese-topped crust in these shots. I don't recall that from Buddy's but could be mistaken.


      1 Reply
      1. re: mdg
        Melanie Wong RE: mdg Dec 25, 2010 09:24 PM

        Michael, should you decide to special order a Detroit pie, you can put me down for one slice. Let me know.

      2. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2010 09:39 AM

        Stopped in yesterday hoping to try a slice, no luck. Asked if there was a particular time I could be sure of getting one, they said no, they just make it when they feel like it.

        1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 25, 2011 04:08 PM

          Paolo Lucchesi reports that it's now at the slice place daily, and will be added to the restaurant's menu in a couple of weeks:


          Tony's Pizza Napoletana
          1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          8 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            mdg RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 25, 2011 11:57 PM

            Thanks for sharing the good news. I might be able to get there on Sunday if they really have it every day. Is the Slice House open the same hours as the restaurant?

            Faygo soda is nostalgia. Real Detroit pizza is amazing chow. Can't wait to see if they pull it off!


            1. re: mdg
              wolfe RE: mdg Apr 26, 2011 12:41 AM

              Did you miss the Faygo thread?

              1. re: mdg
                TopoTail RE: mdg Apr 27, 2011 03:27 PM

                Damn. I grew up in Detroit, but never realized there was a Detroit style pizza. Of course I haven't set foot in the Motor City since 1973, so it may post-date my time there. The pictures remind me of the pizza I used to get at a little slice place on Green Street in North Beach. The name won't surface, but I think they may also have had a location on Columbus. I think "Boy" was in the name.

                1. re: TopoTail
                  chocolatetartguy RE: TopoTail Apr 27, 2011 03:46 PM

                  Golden Boy Pizza?

                  Golden Boy Pizza
                  542 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1. re: TopoTail
                    Robert Lauriston RE: TopoTail Apr 27, 2011 03:46 PM

                    Golden Boy's still there. It's basically a fairly thick, soft focaccia topped like pizza.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      TopoTail RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 27, 2011 05:26 PM

                      Yeah. That's what I was thinking of. I gather it's not really like a Detroit style pizza?

                      1. re: TopoTail
                        mdg RE: TopoTail Apr 27, 2011 10:41 PM

                        No, Sicilian or focaccia or other types have square pizza have nothing to do with Detroit pizza except the shape. The crust is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, much less soft and doughy than square slices in other styles.

                        Buddy's, the originator of the style, has been serving square pizza at its Conant and Six Mile location since 1946. I don't think it got really popular until the 70s though, which is when I recall having it for the first time.

                        I didn't miss the Faygo thread. The point is that Tony's is a serious pizza place, not a Detroit nostalgia joint. Though if this takes off, they could probably do a nice business with a separate place doing Detroit pizza, Coney Islands, Michigan microbrews, frozen custard, and other midwest taste treats you generally can't get here. Out of all of those, Detroit pizza is the star for me.

                        I haven't lived in Detroit since the 1970s either, but my visit last year to Loui's gave me a recent refresher on the glories of the style. I'm looking forward to see how Tony's does with it! Still hoping to get there on Sunday.


                    2. re: TopoTail
                      Tripper RE: TopoTail Apr 28, 2011 06:05 PM

                      Buddy's and other Detroit square pizzas have been around since the 1940's. You led a sheltered life :)

                2. c
                  chocolatetartguy RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 25, 2011 05:48 PM

                  Do they have Faygo sodas?

                  1. m
                    mdg RE: Robert Lauriston May 1, 2011 08:43 PM

                    Finally tried it today, and it's promising. They got the cheese right, including the carmelized cheese on the crust (more in the sparer Buddy's style than the extroverted Loui's style).

                    The side crust was pretty good but the bottom crust was undercooked, which is a severe problem in this style. You need the crust crispy on the bottom and chewy on top. They also had about twice as much tomato sauce on top as you would find in Detroit, and it's a brighter-flavored sauce rather than the darker, winier sauce you find at Loui's.

                    The combination of the undercooked crust and the heavy hand with a bright tomato sauce is the taste priorities get inverted - more like tomato - crust - cheese than the proper crust - cheese - tomato.

                    It's still a good pizza and a very reasonable first effort at bringing Detroit-style pizza to San Francisco. It's not at the transcendence level yet, but the problems seem readily fixable given the starting point.

                    I had no idea about the pan shortage and the subsequent crisis in the Detroit pizza community! It looks like that has been sorted out now:


                    So hopefully Tony's has enough pans on order to get this on the menu regularly. If they only have had one pan until now, ir's no wonder availability has been so sporadic!

                    If any other Loui's / Buddy's fans try this, please keep us posted on their progress in making Detroit square pizza in San Francisco!


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mdg
                      Robert Lauriston RE: mdg Apr 23, 2012 08:14 AM

                      For future reference, some obsessive pizza-geek details about Buddy's:


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