Monday, January 4, 2010

Eating Detroit - Loui's Pizza

This has been a long time coming. For the most part, food has been an essential part of my life. Not in the way that food needs to be, serving to keep us sustained, but in a way that all food should inspire to be - a celebration that reflects culture, tradition and love.

So, while much of what I eat is that of mere convenience, I resolved that 2010 would be different. Anyone still living in the Detroit area doesn't need me to tell them how bad things are right now. We're all witnesses - most of us are living it. So, all the more reason to celebrate the simple pleasures in one's life like going places and eating things!

Last night was such an occasion. I've been a part of many conversations about "Detroit-style" pizza. All variations on the square, thick-crusted, sauce on top of cheese pizza. The most famous is probably Buddy's, with so many stores around the area (although I contend the best Buddy's pizza still comes out of the ovens at the Conant/McNichols location). Then you have Cloverleaf on the east side, Shield's, and the legendary Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park.

Ralph (pictured) and I ended up at Loui's Pizza last night in an attempt to compare and contrast their pies with others we've enjoyed. It was a cold Sunday night, and the place was packed. I had not been to Loui's since 1982, and my most vivid recollection (other than the delicious pizza) was a lot of empty Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling. Walking into the dining room, there were hundreds of bottles still on display, and more had been added to the walls. Each bottle was signed by it's consumer(s) and I can't imagine how many wonderful stories must be attached to those bottles.

Our waitress was Dianne - a real hoot! We got Happy New Year hugs from her as she asked what we wanted to drink. She returned with our waters saying, "I fancied them up with TWO lemons" and then seemed to instinctively know what we wanted to order.

"So you boys want a small antipasto salad and what do you want on your pizza pie?" We ordered a large pizza (8 slices) with pepperoni and mushroom to follow our salad. The salad was out in no-time, and Ralph commented on the smoothness of the dressing. It was really good - old school Italian dressing on iceberg lettuce with chopped up ham, salami and mozzarella cheese. Ralph and I thought it was one of the best we've had anywhere.

The pizza took a while. When it came, the sight and smell made my mouth water in anticipation. We dug right in and were so involved in eating that we didn't realize we didn't get the pizza we ordered! Dianne came over to the table and asked if we got the pepperoni and mushroom pizza. Looking down at it is was clear that it had the pepperoni but no mushroom. "I screwed up, sorry!" Dianne said as she carried the pizza we should have gotten over to another table. The other party didn't seem to disappointed and neither were we. With or without the 'shrooms, it was good eatin'!

Loui's has a different sauce than Buddy's (seemed to have a more herbal taste - maybe more oregano), and the pizza was a bit cheesier, too. Ralph didn't think the crust was as "buttery" as Buddy's, but it had a good texture and a nice crunch at the edges.

Enjoying this great Detroit tradition was one of the best parts of the day.

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