Deadline Detroit | This Detroit-style pizza shop gives our pie a bad name

Lions & Tigers & Squares, oh hell no. (Photo: Violet Ikonomova)

NEW YORK – Detroit-style pizza has a moment, but the uninitiated will likely be more fortunate to enjoy our famous cake at Pizza Hut than at Lions & Tigers & Squares, a Manhattan pizza place we had the displeasure at this week eat.

The Chelsea pizza spot, founded by Francis Garcia and Sal Basille, New Yorkers with a separate national chain and Cooking Channel show, debuted three years ago with a section on Jimmy Kimmel and a Barstool Sports Review.

It seems to be one of only two independent pizzerias in Manhattan that exclusively act on our quasi-deep plate squares with sauce on top. And “trade” is the operational term here, because while Lions & Tigers & Squares drip Detroit from memorabilia on its walls to Motown streaming through its speakers, Detroit has no connection, and any local with functioning taste buds can recognize it within two bites.

While the presentation is spot on and the toppings are inspired (the Kimmel segment arose out of internet outrage over a mustard and sauerkraut combo that the show host said was pretty good), a thick layer of pepperoni and a square one can Chip the tragedy in the center.

The cheese doesn’t melt properly and has no draw, but sits like a brick on top of a dough with its own problems, which we’ll get into in a moment. The shortcoming doesn’t seem to be due to freshness or temperature, because we stopped by for lunch and got our two slices of the vodka sauce variant red-hot. It seems to be more of a problem with the quality of the cheese or the density of the dough.

This batter doesn’t have the fluffy texture of a Detroit pizza you find in the US, however, and feels almost raw towards the center of a slice.

Coincidentally, there is an art of Detroit-style pizza-making that self-proclaimed aficionodos Basille and Garcia missed on their trip to Buddy’s, which they say inspired their restaurant. However, it seems that not many visitors can tell the difference; The place has 4 stars on Yelp with nearly 500 reviews.

Thank goodness our discerning Detroit taste buds will soon be flying back to Buddy.

Here’s a visual guide to what we mean:

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