Boston’s meager Detroit-style pizza scene could get a little bigger next year — by way of New York. Emmy Squared, which has locations in New York City and Tennessee, is plotting quite a bit of expansion in the coming years, and the Boston area is on the restaurant group’s radar.
First, what is Detroit-style pizza? In short: (1) Call it “square,” even though it’s technically rectangular. (2) The dough is light, not chewy, and almost Sicilian-style. (3) The sauce is drizzled on top of the cheese. (4) It’s traditionally made in industrial blue steel pans from the auto industry. (5) Some pizzerias, like Emmy Squared, use mozzarella, but mild Wisconsin brick cheese is the classic choice, and it stays gooey in the center of the pizza and gets crispy towards the edges. (Fans of Massachusetts’ South Shore-style bar pizza will likely appreciate the similarities between the two pizza styles, especially when it comes to that crispy, lacy cheese edge.) (6) You’re allowed to — gasp — eat Detroit-style pizza with a fork and knife, if you choose. More details at the links below:
But back to Emmy Squared: Pizza-obsessed founders Emily and Matt Hyland are behind several different brands, each featuring a different style of pizza. First came Emily, which opened in Brooklyn in 2014 and expanded to the West Village in 2017, serving wood-fired pizza and burgers. The first Emmy Squared location, serving Detroit-style pizza, opened in Williamsburg in 2016 before expanding to the East Village and down to Nashville. (A second Nashville location is currently in the works.) And then came Violet, which opened in the East Village earlier this year, featuring grilled pizza inspired by Rhode Island mainstay Al Forno.
Eater NY discussed Emmy Squared’s upcoming expansion plans with partner Howard Greenstone, who knows quite a bit about restaurant growth — he was formerly the CEO and president of the Rosa Mexicano chain. In addition to plans for Philadelphia and D.C. locations of Emmy Squared, Greenstone told Eater that the team is targeting the Boston area for 2020, noting that Cambridge could be a good fit due to the potential customer base of college students and recent graduates.
Greenstone looks for “established” neighborhoods and spaces in the range of 2,000 to 2,500 square feet that would allow for 75 to 100 seats. And he doesn’t consider it efficient to open one restaurant per city (for a restaurant this size), so if Emmy Squared does land in or around Boston, expect to see multiple outposts.
When Emmy Squared expands to different cities, 80% of the menu stays constant among all locations, while 20% is specifically oriented to the location, so a peek at the current East Village menu gives a fairly good preview of what Boston would get: There are over a dozen pizzas, about half with red sauce and mozzarella and half with just mozzarella; examples include the Roni Supreme, with pepperoni and Calabrian chiles, and the Big Ang, with vodka sauce, ricotta, double pecorino, meatballs, and banana peppers.
The restaurant doesn’t only serve pizza; there are also a few sandwiches, including chicken parm, served on pretzel buns, and a few salads and snacks.
Emmy Squared and its big sister, Emily, are “two of NYC’s most exciting pizzerias,” per a 2016 review by Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton. Emmy Squared’s Detroit-style pizza is “most excellent,” he wrote, and it will provide something a little bit novel to the Boston pizza scene.
Boston’s pizza scene does cover a lot of territory — Neapolitan-style and other wood-fired variations; a bit of New Haven; some New York-esque slices; etc. — but there are only hints of Detroit so far. On that front, there’s Volo Craft Pizza up in Swampscott and the forthcoming Avenue Kitchen and Bar in Somerville’s Ball Square. Plus, some locations of Otto Pizza serve it, and Tapestry in Fenway has dabbled in it but typically focuses on Neapolitan-style pizza.
Stay tuned for updates on Emmy Squared’s expansion plans as they potentially come to fruition next year. But in the meantime, hungry Detroit pizza fans can keep an eye out for the imminent (late May or early June) opening of Avenue in Somerville, which will debut with five Detroit-style pizzas, including one topped with beef barbacoa.
• Detroit-Style Pizza Hit Emmy Squared Eyes Major Expansion in NYC and Beyond [ENY]
• A Recipe for Building a Pizza and Burger Empire [Crains]
• Emmy Squared [Official Site]