Shield’s Pizza (Detroit, MI)

Well, from previous reviews of mine, I’ve covered the topic of “Detroit-Style? pizza more than a few times, most notably when talking about Brass Rail, or Via 313 (in Austin, of all places). It’s a real style, and one I rather enjoy as a variant of “deep dish”, but it has a quirk. Like I mentioned in my Brass Rail review, there actually aren’t all that many places in Detroit’s downtown or midtown to get a proper Detroit pizza. The canonical example, Buddy’s, started on 6 Mile, and is mostly a suburb chain, and Brass Rail is one of the very few places in downtown to experience it. But in Midtown, a recent change occurred: Shield’s Pizza returned to Detroit. Since I wanted to give several of my visiting friends a reasonably-authentic “Detroit Pizza”, we decided to give this new location a try.

Shield’s is no newcomer to the Detroit-area pizza scene. The original location was Shield’s Bar, located at the corner of Shields and Davison, which closed in the late 1980s (as did much in Detroit), but stayed on with a good half dozen locations in Troy, Macomb, Southfield, and other suburbs. But in early 2019, Shield’s returned to Detroit proper when they moved into the space recently-vacated by Maccabees at Midtown Bar in Mid-town’s famous Maccabees building (also known as the Wayne State Tower these days). I’d actually been in the previous bar once, and aside from some general cleanup and shifting to color scheme and decor to match the other Shield’s locations, it hasn’t changed that much; it’s still a nice, mid-century-appearance marble and tile dining area.

Shield’s has a pretty robust menu with a selection of burgers, sandwiches, and salads, but when it comes down to it, I think just about everyone is headed to Shield’s for one thing: Pizza. So that’s what our group ordered, two pizzas: a Meat Lover’s Pizza (pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, and bacon), and a Vegetarian (Mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and olives). The meat pizza was a real star, showing the solid underpinnings of a proper Detroit-style pizza: A thick, yeasty crust with some nice crisping from the oil. A nice, thick layer of and pepperoni, and then slick slices of block cheese, and then the sauce, keeps the sauce from soaking down into the dough. Finally, the remainder of the toppings (including some extra pepperoni) stacked up and crisped. It really does combine some of the better aspects of classic, Sicilian, and deep dish pizzas.

The Vegetarian was similar in overall approach, although Shield’s interestingly does that pizza with a lighter sauce and shredded cheese, and I actually think that was a good choice: the lighter saucing didn’t overwhelm the nicely roasted veggies.

Overall, I liked Shield’s. I can see why they are one of the metro-area’s more popular options for Detroit-style pizza, and it is great to see them returning to the city. I hope they do well in the new location.

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