Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tight Pizza

A photo of pizza from the Damn Arbor Photo Archive. 

Tight Pizza is a pizza review website by a young man named Ted. Ted is from Long Island, a place he describes as " a pie paradise and mecca of mozzarella." He relocated to Ann Arbor for school and has stayed since graduating and has been on a quest to find the perfect fordable slice of Pizza in Southeast Michigan. From the inaugural post:

As I am quickly running out of friends willing to listen to my constant moaning about the state of pizza in Michigan and beyond, I’m turning to this blog to document my efforts to find whatever’s closest out here! Maybe we can pin down the missing pizza link and have some nice surprises along the way.
I really love this sort of blog that is dedicated to a personal obsession. Since launching in November, Tight Pizza has reviewed 35 pizza places in Southeast Michigan which is really impressive. I reached out to Ted with a few interview questions which he graciously answered.
Damn Arbor: What is your favorite pizza place so far in Southeast Michigan and why?

Tight Pizza: Mani Osteria is my favorite pizza place in SE Michigan. It's a Neapolitan style pizza, so it will be a thinner crust with charring. A bit different from your typical pizza place out here. What I like best about their pizza is the sauce, which is sweet but does not overpower the pizza. Mani really has their pizza game down. They've got killer appetizers as well. Their pickled tomatoes are to die for. Their pistachio cannolis are brilliant as well.

DA: In general how does true NY pizza differ from the approximations we have here?

TP: Midwestern style pizza places serving up a round pizza have a few flaws that separate them from the ideal NY slice. Firstly, they're extremely doughy, both on the body of the slice, and at the ends. A lot of times, the dough ends up being undercooked as well, possibly because of how much is present. All in all, it leads to a flavor profile because of how much dough you get in each bite. Secondly, the cheese to sauce ratio ('CSR', if you want to be a pizza pro) is critical for that NY slice flavor. A lot of pizza places in the Midwest dump loads of cheese on their slice. In general with pizza, less is more. A delicate balance between cheese and sauce gets you that nice mottled cheese/sauce color all New Yorkers can recognize at a glance.

One last thing that bothers the hell out of me are the places that cut their pizzas in 16 'baby' slices instead of 8 regular slices. This prevents a good fold, a hallmark of the NY slice experience.

DA: Has writing about pizza changed your perspective on Pizza? Has it made eating pizza different?

TP: Writing about pizza has brought me closer than I have ever been to the food. It forces you to think about the details of each slice. You might normally think to yourself 'I liked this' after eating, but now you're thinking about the texture of the crust, the CSR, the taste of the ingredients, etc. Analyzing each slice helped me understand why I felt the way I did about midwestern pizza, whereas before I could not properly articulate it. Now when I eat from a new pizza place, I enjoy analyzing it and pointing out what they could do better, rather than sulking about how much I miss proper NY pizza.

I'm glad that Ted has taken it upon himself to chronicle his pizza adventures and look forward to reading more reviews.


  1. We're really diving headfirst into some controversial territory here, hm?

  2. I moved here from living in Long Island for 32 years (in Smithtown). I agree generally with Ted, but will add: what distinguishes A2/Michigan pizza from great NY pizza is its absence of and aversion to garlic (as well as its 2nd rate dough). I agree Mani can be very good but it's nothing like real NY Italian pizza, merely excellent designer pizza. The closest I've found to piuzza I grew up with (it was called "abeets") here is Neopapalis. Luckily few know about it. Many say Buddy's is the best, but though it's very good, it's still a basic rich Michigan square pizza. I also agree: Whole Foods does make good pizza. But Anthony's has disappointed many times.