How MTH Pizza Brought Detroit-Style Pizza to Smyrna

Chris Hall was just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit. He took the midnight train goin’ to A-T-L. There’s more to the story than these Journey lyrics lead on, but you get the gist.

MTH Pizza co-founder Chris Hall was indeed born and raised in the Detroit area, so his nostalgic affinity for Detroit style pizza was a bucket list item from the moment the Unsukay partners decided they were opening a pizza joint.

Hall reflects, “My grandparents lived in Detroit and I lived there until I was 7-years-old, but we would go back to visit all the time. Some of the earliest memories I had of pizza didn’t involve it in a triangle form. I always remember grabbing some deep-dish pies and going to Tiger’s games.”

“I knew I wanted to bring this style to MTH because I love that focaccia-style crust. The way the cheese bubbles around the edges and gets crispy, you can’t beat it. There are a small handful of places around Atlanta serving Detroit-style pizza, but not many, and certainly none in the Smyrna-Vinings area, so we were ready to bring folks that option.”

To add to Hall’s deep dish excitement, Detroit-style pizza has had a national glow up over the last 10 years. The square pan pizza has been noticeably trending across the U.S. Thrillist tells us that while the basic recipe for a Detroit-style pizza is nothing novel, the term “Detroit-style pizza” is relatively new.

Motor City has long been celebrated for their square cut pies, but Detroit is also home to some major pizza brands including Domino’s and Little Caesars (pizza, pizza). But the local’s didn’t coin the term Detroit-style pizza. To them, it’s called Buddy’s style.

Buddy’s is a renowned pizza restaurant located in Detroit. Their owner, Gus Guerra, originated the style back in 1946. He took a Sicilian-style pizza recipe and pressed it into rectangular blue steel pans commonly used by automotive workers. The deep dish, square-cut pies took off in a cult-like fashion across the city and now across the nation.


Chris Hall approached MTH Pizza partners, Chef Todd Mussman and Ryan Turner, with the idea to add Detroit pizza to the menu. “Creating our version of Detroit-style pizza was a cool thing for Muss and I to experiment with and it’s an homage to where I grew up,” said Hall. “I got my start working at Pizza Hut and I’m from Detroit so it made sense to bring it full circle and create a kick ass Detroit-style pie.”

MTH Pizza’s “Dough Boy” Todd Mussman was game. He began researching and watched practically every video on the internet sucking up anything and everything he could learn about the style. “I experimented on the dough which is different from our standard pizza dough,” said Mussman. “It’s wetter with a higher hydration. We wanted more of a focaccia dough and so I needed to get it to rise to get that airy, lightness to it.”

Because Detroit-style pizza is a heavier serving with a heaping serving of cheese, we wanted to ensure our crust would not weigh down the pie and become too heavy. Mussman’s goal was to make the lightest crust possible. He explains, “It can sound counterintuitive, but the more water you add to the dough, the more air bubbles you’ll get in the middle and the more crispiness you’ll get on the bottom.”

First, we butter the pan and that helps the dough to stay put when we push it in. It also helps to create that nice caramelized bottom of the crust. The idea is to caramelize the cheese in between the crust and the pan. So when you get those edges it’s the best bite on the pizza.

Our process is kind of a twice baked process. After we press the dough into the pans, we top it with 6-ounces of cheese let it rise and bake it.That gives us a cheesy focaccia base. Then, the pan rests until an order is placed.

When you place an order, we pull the pan, add 10 more ounces of cheese, and pepperoni if you ordered the “Big Sexy”. Fun fact: ourDetroit pizzas come with 12-ounces of dough and 16 total ounces of cheese. That’s right. You get a whole pound of cheese!

The cheese is then followed by two stripes of our pizza sauce and then it goes into the oven for 15 minutes. The bread comes out so beautiful. It’s all crispy and the cheese is all melty. We let it rest and top it with pecorino and oregano and then it’s out the door.


CHRIS HALL: “I just dig this style. It’s really the best pizza out there. I’m not a huge red sauce guy, so the fact that you don’t have as much sauce on the pie is dope to me. You can go at it as much as you want. Plus, it’s nostalgic. Part of the Detroit pizza renaissance is that we all ate square pizza growing up at school, so it’s familiar for everyone.”

RYAN TURNER: “Everything about this pie is a melt-your-face-off experience. The dedication to the different layers, textures and flavors sets it apart. This is perfect if you want to treat yourself to some comforting decadence.”

TODD MUSSMAN: “The best part about our Detroit pies that we bake them in square pans so that gives us four equal slices. That way everyone gets a corner and no one loses out!”



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