I grew up in Chicago and bow to Lou Malnati’s. I also love thin crust, New York-style—you name it. Pizza is one of my favorite foods as long as it’s done right, and the ingredients are high-quality. You have to taste the cheese. And the sauce and crust must have just as much flavor as the toppings. That said, I cannot resist an excellent Detroit-style pizza. Not familiar with this type of pizza? Let me explain, because it is all about Michigan history, our automotive history.
Rumor, legend, and many sources state the Detroit-style pizza was born at Buddy’s Rendezvous in the city. This pizza is an offshoot of Sicilian, deep dish and baked. The key ingredient however is not edible. It is the iron or steel pan the pizza is baked in. Using this type of pan creates a crispy edge where the cheese melts right into the crust. I cannot begin to explain the happiness of getting an edge with that cheese cooked into the crust. It is caramelized and absolutely heavenly.
Back in 1946, Gus Guerra, who was the owner of Buddy’s Rendezvous, used square pans that were from a nearby factory to create a new pizza for his menu. He and his wife were looking to create a new menu item that would satisfy the appetites of factory workers coming in on break or after their shift. They hand pressed the dough into the factory pans and a new regional favorite was created.
Klavon’s history is a little more recent but they do an excellent version. It all began over 20 years ago in Jackson, Michigan, south of Mason. They added the Mason location a couple years back and it’s my go-to since it’s much closer to where I live. Klavon’s brags on their Chicago-style but, you are in Michigan if you’re trying Klavon’s out.
Get the Detroit-style of which there are several options for topping combinations on the menu. My recommendation: the “Detroiter.” The “Detroiter” has that pepperoni that is “cupped” and as the menu states, charred. It is SO GOOD. They add Italian sausage, little globs of ricotta cheese and, wait for it, peppadew peppers. It’s simply brilliant. It has just the right amount of oregano and the mix of flavors on this pizza is pure excellence.
I won’t hide the fact you can order their version of Chicago-style, thinner crust pizzas, pasta, wings, burgers, sandwiches, and salads at Klavon’s but why would you? Go there for what they’re known for around here, something I recommend no matter the region or restaurant. Since you’re not far from Detroit whether you’re at Klavon’s in Mason or in its original Jackson location, get Detroit-style. If for some reason you have someone with you that isn’t about this delectable deep-dish creation, at least you know there is plenty else on the menu for him/her or them to choose from.
Since Klavon’s is a stand-alone building, they have their own parking lot, so parking is easy. Of course, you can order ahead and get pies for take-out. It’s an easy hop off the highway (US 127) just south of Michigan’s capitol city, Lansing. For those that are fans of antiquing, make sure to leave time to visit the Maple Street Mall and the Old Mill Antiques Mall.
If you’re in town for the Ingham County fair, Klavon’s is also a convenient break for the family and you can do call-ahead seating for groups of 8 or more. It’s not the same as a true reservation, but it helps with the wait time if you happen to be hungry at the same time everyone else seems to be!