A question was asked in Workantile’s recommendation channel that resulted in slack telling notifying us that several people are typing:
What’s your favorite Ann Arbor pizza?
I was one of them because, dear reader, I have pizza opinions.
Pizza Contains Multitudes
There is no one Pizza. Instead, we have many many subclasses of food that look similar, yet are quite different, and can all be broadly defined (and recognized!) as pizza.
If you ask a child to draw a pizza they will draw you a shape that more or less looks like what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eat. Something that is circular, cheesy, and maybe some pepperoni on top. The child’s drawing won’t be able to capture a lot of, what I’d argue, are essential properties of the pizza though: speed of delivery to your mouth, toppings, crust, thickness, greasiness, price, etc.
No artist could, really, pizza is complicated and comes in many forms! And, because of it, pizza places cannot excel at all kinds of pizza. They will naturally do one (maybe two!) kinds of pizza well. Expecting them to do everything outlined below would result in them doing nothing correctly. Recognition that the rubric for “good pizza” is vast and circumstantial has the effect of reducing the stress of picking a pizza place. Rather than having only one favorite pizza place you can expand your palette and have many favorite places each tailored to what you are actually craving.
The Taxonomy of Pizza Places
Since we agree that pizza places suit different needs you can first choose the kind of pizza you are craving and then pick your place from there.
I contend that the categories below are more or less comprehensive of restaurant pizza options (we’re not getting into making your own or frozen). I’ve provided my favorite places in Ann Arbor for each category with the understanding that there will be quibbles. That is fine by me. You are always welcome to submit your own blog post to the internet:
Hot and Ready from Little Caesar’s. You may optionally hate yourself later, but you will at least be full.
Domino’s. It’s “local” and defines this category. Maybe Cottage Inn if you want exotic ingredients like “chicken”. I’m told that Marco’s Pizza is also good in this category.
Blaze pizza. Although “fast” in this sense is highly dependent on how busy it is. Blaze is a nightmare if you are hungry because you feel like you’re very close to getting your pizza, but any line whatsoever is going to make it feel like an eternity. That said you get a ton of choices and can piece together a pretty good pizza. Neopapalis is another option here, although I haven’t been in years.
Not Your Daddy’s Pizza
Bigalora or Mani. If you crave interesting ingredients like brussel sprouts OR potatoes go to these places. Mani is loud though.
Sit Down and Wait a While
Anthony’s. Pizza House has a better ambiance. Anthony’s has much better pizza.
Was told after publishing that I should really include a section on a few specific regional styles:
Chicago (read: Deep Dish)
Anthony’s. Although maybe just wait until the next time you’re in Chicago.
I’m least familiar with this but am told that Buddy’s and/or Jet’s are where to go. As someone who grew up in Chicagoland Detroit style is scary and different.
New York Pizza Depot. I’m unaware of any runner-ups here. Again, probably best to just wait until you’re in NY.
Thanks to Workantile for helping me take this from that thing I rant about from time to time to a written blog post I can now link to whenever someone mentions pizza.