Update: Like any food truck, Via 313 is both mobile, and has seen enough success to go brick-and-mortar, with (as of 2015) a restaurant location. Check out their web site for details.
After a brief period of convalescence from all the meat eating earlier in the day at JMueller and Stiles Switch, we decided to indulge in the other type of cuisine that really makes Austin special: more food trucks!
The nice thing about the food truck scene is that it’s forever changing. Trucks move to new locations. New places show up all the time. Other places close. Yet others convert from trucks to permanent location. It’s never the same scene twice. So this time, despite returning to East 6th Street like last year, the makeup of trucks was almost entirely different (this was made even more clear by the closing of the East Side Drive In collection of carts).
First of all, I can hear a bunch of you already snickering about “Detroit-style Pizza” (insert standard worn Detroit joke here…) but it’s a real subtype (see the link above). The Detroit pizza is someplace in the pizza spectrum between “Chicago Style Deep Dish” and “Sicilian Style”. Usually it’s a square pizza in a deep (but not Chicago deep) dish, with a very thick crust that’s baked in a layer of oil so it crisps up. The toppings are thickly applied, and, most importantly, the cheese is underneath the marinara. It’s a different style of pizza, but it’s worth trying. As I’ve mentioned before, I try not to get worked up over different pizza styles, since they don’t even really compete with each other for the most part. It’s rather like trying to compare lasagna to spaghetti: both are good, and they are similar dishes, but aren’t really substitutable. Similarly, if I’m craving Detroit style pizza, no amount of Pepe’s is going to satisfy my craving, as good as Pepe’s is (and similarly, no amount of Via 313 or Buddy’s Pizza will satisfy a Pepe’s craving).
There’s also the question of why one would go get Detroit Style pizza in Austin, but if you really think about it, why not? It’s not Bangkok, either, but that’s no reason I can’t enjoy a nice green curry from a food truck (which I did the next day at Coat and Thai).
In any case, there actually is one food truck in Austin that specializes in Detroit-style Pizza it: Via 313. Located on East 6th St, in front of the Violet Crown Social Club (who will happily let you eat your pizza either inside, or in their patio, so you can order up some beer). They’ve got a decent menu of Detroit-style pizzas, ranging from the simple (like the “Original” with cheese and pepperoni) to the elaborate (like the “Carnivore”, with most of the meat products on it) to the trendy (goat cheese and caramelized onions). We decided to go simple, and order up the original (although I also got to try some of the Carnivore), retiring inside the bar to drink an Austin Beerworks beer while waiting for my pizza.
So, how was the pizza itself? I’ll say that Via 313 does a rather good rendition of it. On the Buddy’s duplication scale, I’ll give it 9/10. They’ve got all the hallmarks in place: the square shape, the crisp, thick crust that’s basically been fried in the heavy layer of oil in the pan, the right cheese, and the placing of the toppings (meat, then cheese, then sauce). If somehow I could transport this pizza to Detroit, there’s a chance I could pass it off as proper Detroit pizza. And from that perspective, it’s probably quite the success. For that matter, it’s quite good in it’s own right, having good ingredients and a nicely crisped preparation. This isn’t my normal style of pizza, but for this particular style, they do it well.