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Angry Pete's Pizza brings Detroit to Kensington

Thick crust and caramelized cheese will make you forget about round pies

The rectangular, Detroit style pizza, topped by cheese ravioli and meat sauce
The rectangular, Detroit style pizza, topped by cheese ravioli and meat sauce

I couldn’t be sure Detroit pizza was really a thing. I’d read about the Motown style, sure. That it was a thick crust pie, baked in rectangular pans, a descendent of Sicilian pizza. But it was something that only existed two thousand miles away, in a city I’ve never seen, all but eclipsed in the imagination by the bravado of New York slices, and the deep dishes of Chicago.

Place

Angry Pete's Pizza

4067 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Then Angry Pete’s Pizza moved into neighborhood brewery Kensington Brewing Company and I realized that, not only is Detroit style pizza real, it’s among the most satisfying pies in San Diego.

Would that I had found it sooner! Angry Pete’s has apparently been around a couple of years, popping up at breweries and bars and markets. It still does so, serving take-and-bake pies at bar Sin Nombre in Chula Vista, for example. But in setting up a 500-degree oven in the back of Kensington Brewing, Pete’s has settled into a daily location, while allowing the brewery to serve beer on its patio during the current round of covid restrictions.

Once a pop-up business, Angry Pete's Pizza is now served daily at Kensington Brewing.

Wet dough and that 500-degree cook makes its crust porous and fluffy; a focaccia yet more fun to chew owing to its pan-crisped edges. Also crisped at the edges is the generous yet not over-the-top layer of cheese: a combination of mozzarella, white cheddar, and true to Detroit tradition, Wisconsin brick cheese. Pete’s serves four-slice rectangular pies for $18 apiece, ensuring every slice yields a corner edge, where the caramelized cheese and crust delivers a most exquisite last bite.

A quirk of the Detroit style is that the basil and oregano tinged tomato sauce goes on top of the cheese and toppings. As for the micro basil chef Peter Harbison adds to each finished pie, I’m not sure whether that’s more a nod to the Michigan native’s fifteen years spent in Southern California, or to his own 24-year professional culinary history.

Double pepperoni pie with pepperoni two ways: sliced and diced

His choice of toppings may just be a window into his own tastes. Of the three different pies available, one keeps it relatively basic, going without toppings and a four-cheese blend. A second layers the crust with cheese-filled raviolis, in turn smothered with a meaty take on his tomato sauce. This one will fill you up fast.

Serving pizza allows brewery to serve beer.

My favorite has to be the double pepperoni — and not simply because the pepperoni is generously applied. In addition to the customary thin, round slices, it also features diced pepperoni, little chunks of America’s favorite pizza topping, creating added bursts of flavor and chew to a style of pizza with plenty of flavor and chew to go around.

I’m still a fan of Chicago pizza and Neapolitan pies. But now I’m a hundred percent sold on Detroit pizza and forced to wonder: is New York style pizza even good? Or does New York just have a larger, louder population constantly telling us so?

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The rectangular, Detroit style pizza, topped by cheese ravioli and meat sauce
The rectangular, Detroit style pizza, topped by cheese ravioli and meat sauce

I couldn’t be sure Detroit pizza was really a thing. I’d read about the Motown style, sure. That it was a thick crust pie, baked in rectangular pans, a descendent of Sicilian pizza. But it was something that only existed two thousand miles away, in a city I’ve never seen, all but eclipsed in the imagination by the bravado of New York slices, and the deep dishes of Chicago.

Place

Angry Pete's Pizza

4067 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Then Angry Pete’s Pizza moved into neighborhood brewery Kensington Brewing Company and I realized that, not only is Detroit style pizza real, it’s among the most satisfying pies in San Diego.

Would that I had found it sooner! Angry Pete’s has apparently been around a couple of years, popping up at breweries and bars and markets. It still does so, serving take-and-bake pies at bar Sin Nombre in Chula Vista, for example. But in setting up a 500-degree oven in the back of Kensington Brewing, Pete’s has settled into a daily location, while allowing the brewery to serve beer on its patio during the current round of covid restrictions.

Once a pop-up business, Angry Pete's Pizza is now served daily at Kensington Brewing.

Wet dough and that 500-degree cook makes its crust porous and fluffy; a focaccia yet more fun to chew owing to its pan-crisped edges. Also crisped at the edges is the generous yet not over-the-top layer of cheese: a combination of mozzarella, white cheddar, and true to Detroit tradition, Wisconsin brick cheese. Pete’s serves four-slice rectangular pies for $18 apiece, ensuring every slice yields a corner edge, where the caramelized cheese and crust delivers a most exquisite last bite.

A quirk of the Detroit style is that the basil and oregano tinged tomato sauce goes on top of the cheese and toppings. As for the micro basil chef Peter Harbison adds to each finished pie, I’m not sure whether that’s more a nod to the Michigan native’s fifteen years spent in Southern California, or to his own 24-year professional culinary history.

Double pepperoni pie with pepperoni two ways: sliced and diced

His choice of toppings may just be a window into his own tastes. Of the three different pies available, one keeps it relatively basic, going without toppings and a four-cheese blend. A second layers the crust with cheese-filled raviolis, in turn smothered with a meaty take on his tomato sauce. This one will fill you up fast.

Serving pizza allows brewery to serve beer.

My favorite has to be the double pepperoni — and not simply because the pepperoni is generously applied. In addition to the customary thin, round slices, it also features diced pepperoni, little chunks of America’s favorite pizza topping, creating added bursts of flavor and chew to a style of pizza with plenty of flavor and chew to go around.

I’m still a fan of Chicago pizza and Neapolitan pies. But now I’m a hundred percent sold on Detroit pizza and forced to wonder: is New York style pizza even good? Or does New York just have a larger, louder population constantly telling us so?

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Comments
7

God that looks good! I bet each of those pizza boxes weighs 10 pounds. It looks more like lasagna than pizza.

Aug. 12, 2020

Lasagna is a format of pasta. I boil my own pasta all the time. There are different pastas & sauces that are on sale.

Aug. 15, 2020

Anything different/unique, and just alone if its on Adams Ave ---- this obviously tells all of EXPENSIVENESS TO COME.

Aug. 13, 2020

I guess some folks are too young to remember the local "Square Pan Pizza" chain that was a popular Detroit style pizza joint in the 70's and 80's. Square Pizza in Pacific Beach is Detroit style, they've been serving pies since 2016.

Aug. 16, 2020

I remember of Square Pan Pizza. Wasn't there one near Carlsbad? I remember my most common hearing of "Detroit" style -- in the tv news way back in time, was about American made cars..

Aug. 17, 2020

I remember square pan pizza being sold in the 70s and 80s at several pizza joints. It lost popularity after the 80s and has recently come back in the last ten years. Nobody liked it but me - everyone else wanted slices. Maybe I was hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Aug. 16, 2020

(at such time, by the traditionalists): Pizza Crust is expected to be lower and round, rather than 'square' and high.

Aug. 23, 2020

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