I had my first Detroit style pizza in North Carolina in 2016. I was immediately hooked. When I got back to San Diego, I started looking for a place that served this style and found out about the newly opened Square Pizza Co in Pacific Beach. This place has become a new family favorite. In our search for the best pizza in San Diego, we know Square Pizza Co will fall near the top.
Detroit pizza has a thick crust with the sauce on top. It is baked in a special square pan. I have actually bought this pan and made it at home. This is fun to do, but it is time consuming. Also, in terms of costs the savings is not that much versus a pizza from Square Pizza Co.
At Square Pizza Co, Detroit style pizza is one of 3 very different square pizza styles they make. The other two are a thin crust Boston Beach pizza and a Sicilian crust that is thick, but not as thick as the Detroit style. Square Pizza Co is a tiny place with only a handful of tables inside and some outside seating. It is pretty much just pizza, with canned/bottled soda and cannoli as a desert option.
We have tried all three, but the Detroit is my favorite. A Detroit pizza contains a combination of cheddar and mozzarella. The sauce is applied on top as two “racing stripes.” A basic Detroit pizza, with 8 squares is $19, plus $2 for toppings. They also have specialty pizzas. My favorite is the Pontiac which adds pepperoni and is $21. The pepperoni at Square Pizza Co is excellent, right up with my favorite Vermont pepperoni. Other Detroit theme options such as the Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, Chevrolet and Cadillac cost from $25 to $27.
This is heavy pizza and a single square pie can serve 4 to 5 people. They also do slices and a single slice of Detroit pizza is $5.25. The slice actually comes in 2 squares and one slice is about all I can handle.
The other specialty at Square Pizza Co is their Boston Beach Pizza. The owner, Fred Santos, comes from the beach area north of Boston. It seems that two places, Tripoli Bakery and Cristy’s, popularized this style of pizza many years ago along the beaches north of Boston. Eater did a story about this history. I have been to Seabrook and Hampton Beach, NH where Boston Beach pizza is popular several times. However, until I went to Square Pizza Co I had never actually tried this style of pizza.
Boston Beach pizza is nothing like Detroit pizza. For one, it is very thin. It also is much sweeter. In reading the Eater article, this sounds more like the pizza at Tripolis versus competitor Cristy’s. Traditionally this pizza often adds a slice of provolone. At Square Pizza Co you can customize your slice with all kinds of toppings. Slices start at $2.25 with toppings at $0.35 each. You can buy 8 slices of Boston Beach pizza for $16 or $20 for specialty pizzas.
When I go into eat at Square Pizza Co I always get the Detroit Pizza. However, Square Pizza Co offers frozen take-out for their Boston Beach pizza (and every once in a while, the Sicilian). For $8 you can take home a pack of 5 frozen slices (sometimes they even have sales!). I almost always have some slices on hand as one of my go to snacks.
The Sicilian style pizza is also very good, but not as heavily advertised. Slices are a great deal at $3 for margherita or $3.25 for pepperoni. If they have some in the frozen case I always make sure to stock up.
Most of the time I go to Square Pizza Co, Fred and his wife are working behind the counter. Fred got his training from Tony Gemignani’s International School of Pizza in San Francisco. I have been to Tony’s places in both San Francisco and Las Vegas, but never tried his Detroit pizza. Of course, I have also never been to Detroit to try the real deal.
Despite not having actually tried Detroit pizza in its home town, I can say Square Pizza Co is one of my favorites in San Diego. In our pizza categories, Square Pizza Co is a major contender in the top thick-crust/deep dish style category. If we ever do a frozen pizza contest, Square Pizza Co will definitely be a leading contender in that category.
To see more of our contenders for best pizza go here.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2019
Square Pizza Co.’s Detroit-style was number one on our Best San Diego Thick Crust Pizza list. The Sicilian was also a top contender.