Dining Pick | Via 313

Pity not, poor Detroit. Oh sure, the city had it’s share of catastrophic collapses and rampant corruption. But its still got great pizza. And now, so does Austin.

Never had Detroit-style pizza? You’re in for a treat. A few years ago, Detroit-born brothers Zane and Brandon Hunt moved to Austin and brought their hometown recipe with them. What makes this pizza so unique — and awesome — is its tasty contradictions. The crust is thick yet airy. Cheese is crispy on the edges but gooey in the middle. Sauce is a topping, not a base. And it’s called square pizza, although it’s really a rectangle.

Where can you try this glorious pie in Austin? Until recently, only at one of the Hunt brothers’s humble food trailers. But like the meteoric rise of a Motown hit, their success has led to a full-fledged brick-and-mortar restaurant. Named after Detroit’s area code, Via 313 now has a spacious new outlet in Oak Hill. While the original trailers still serve only pizza, the new outlet allows for a broader menu. Now diners can sample Detroit-style pizza, plus Bar Style (more on that later) and an array of appetizers, salads, and desserts. There’s also a full bar, including an impressive beer list.

But don’t get distracted: the star is the Detroit-style pizza. Created in 1946 after World War II, it’s a mash-up of both cultures and ingenuity. As a flood of soldiers returned home craving the global flavors they had experienced abroad, Sicilian immigrants living in Detroit began cooking pizza in blue steel pans discarded from the assembly lines of nearby automotive factories. With that, a star was born.


For you beginners, start with the Classic Cheese or The Detroiter, layered with two types of pepperoni. Often described as upside-down, Via 313’s pizza starts with a thick, chewy crust, followed by toppings and cheese sprinkled to the edges (critical for creating a crispy, caramelized crust), followed by more toppings, and large dollops of red sauce. It is then baked until bubbly and golden brown.

Once you’ve mastered the original, sample Via 313’s new Bar Style pizza. Inspired by pies served in taverns up north, especially New Jersey’s iconic Star Tavern and suburban Detroit’s Frank’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, this style is a more traditional round, thin pizza, but still has Detroit’s signature cheesy edges. While the appetizers are serviceable and the salads are downright good, you might want to save room for dessert. Via 313 keeps it real with another Motor City classic: the Boston Cooler. Named after Detroit’s Boston Boulevard, this refreshing milkshake blends frosty Detroit-made Vernors Ginger Ale with creamy vanilla ice cream.

Just when you thought you knew pizza, something like Via 313 comes along and shakes things up. How good is it? Well, my Detroit-born, Italian-American husband thinks it’s even better than what he gets in The Motor City. And he’s not alone. Other accolades include a recent feature on the Food Network’s “Top 5 Pizzas in America.” Like Detroit, Via 313’s pizza has some serious, badass street cred.


Photography by Robert Jacob Lerma


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