A Pizza with no Borders: Vice City Pizza Brings Detroit-Style to Miami

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One delicious thing about Detroit-style pizza is that the name doesn’t say it all. This versatile style has made its way across the country, from the Motor City to Vice City, and one Miami-based chef is singing its praises. 

Chef Carlos Estarita of Miami’s Vice City Pizza was a chef for two Washington D.C.-based Japanese restaurants during the pandemic, and after moving back to Miami, he started making pizzas for his family. They loved it, and pizza making turned into a business.

“I’m of Cuban heritage, so they’re used to pizza with a little bit more bread, a lot more cheese, a little bit on the crispy side,” he said. “After doing some research, I saw there was Detroit-style pizza; there were two places in Miami before I started doing it. I started testing at home and I found something I was happy with.”

There’s three Detroit-style establishments now in Miami. Granted, it’s not a Miami-style pizza but the people of Miami are craving it. It is somewhat similar to Cuban pan pizza, closely related in a way. 

“There’s kind of no rules. Detroits can have super fun toppings, which make it a little more interesting,” Estarita said. “What I like about the pizza style that we’re doing is we’re aiming for a very crispy product but also very light and airy.”

After researching, Estarita noticed a lot of places in Detroit that threw the raw dough onto the pan and from there they would top it and then cook it. However, he makes his Detroit-style pizza a little different, treating his like an airy focaccia. He par-bakes his dough first, then he stores the doughs for when the orders come in. When they do, he puts the dough back in the pans and finishes with cheese, sauce and other toppings.

“That double cook allows the crust to get really crispy and that first par cook with nothing on it allows the dough to really rise on its own,” he said. “We do a very hydrated dough so it’s a lot more labor than normal but it’s really worth it. You pick up a slice with a lot of cheese and toppings and it doesn’t weigh you down; it’s not a lot of dough.”

Consumer fan favorites start with most pizzerias’ fave: the pepperoni. Vice City also has a lot of fun pizza specials on the menu, from Cuban inspired slow cooked pork to pastor taco-style pizzas and Frito pie pizzas, with chiles, sour cream, a cheddar mozzarella blend, crushed Fritos and scallions. 

“We’ve pretty much tried doing everything on top of the pizzas as long as it tastes good,” Estarita said. “We’ve done Hawaiian with homemade pineapple jam, and we have tons of fun with it. Our taco inspired pizzas do really well.” 

For a long time they did a braised short rib with a consommé on the side. Estarita has also done French onion soup pizza loaded with mozzarella, French swiss and tons of caramelized onions, served with the broth on the side. Essentially, the pizza becomes a giant crouton.

Of course, none of these amazing creations could be done without the assistance of LloydPans. Estarita tested a few pans and researched online, with everything he read telling him to use LloydPans. 

Vice City uses 8-by-10-inch LloydPans for its pizzas and uses LloydPans trays for the house made focaccia with only a half inch of height. 

“I’ve had them for a year now. We’re a small operation, but we’re doing well and we’re about to open our second space,” Estarita said. “We’re getting ready to place an order for 100 pans.”

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