Food

Detroit-Style Pizza Topped With Hot Dogs and Pierogi Coming to Red Light on 14th Street

Little Beast chef Naomi Gallego is behind the hefty new menu

Red Light's original pepperoni pizza. Photograph by Naomi Gallego.

Washington’s pizza diversity has greatly expanded in the past year with new places serving Sicilian slices, cheffy Domino’s-style pies, rustic Roman squares, and more Neapolitan rounds. (So. Much. Neapolitan.) One niche that’s underrepresented? Detroit-style pizza. That changes on July 24 when Red Light launches a new menu from Little Beast chef Naomi Gallego, who recently became a partner in the 14th Street corner bar alongside Aaron Gordon.

First, for the uninitiated, what the heck is a Detroit-style pizza?

“It is not Chicago-style pizza. That is the most common misconception,” says Gallego, who originally hails from Michigan and first made a name for herself as a pastry chef at Blue Duck Tavern and elsewhere. While Chicago pies are deep and heavy, Detroit pies are much lighter. Like focaccia, the dough has a high concentration of water and is dimpled on the surface. It’s cooked on oiled rectangular pans—originally rumored to be made of the same metal used to manufacture cars—for a crispy crust, then topped with mild Wisconsin “brick cheese” (the name nods to the shape). Among the more distinctive features: sauce goes on top of the cheese after the pizza is baked. Gallego drew inspiration from Buddy’s Pizza in Detroit, considered the gold standard of the style.

Red Light will offer ten different pizzas, including classic cheese or pepperoni as well as some more over-the-top options. A Coney-dog-inspired creation sneaks hot dogs under the cheese before it’s smothered with chili, white onions, and mustard. Perhaps even more decadent: the Hamtramck, which pays homage to one of Detroit’s historically Polish neighborhoods. Pizza toppings include potato pierogi—yes, whole pierogi—bacon, caramelized onions, and béchamel sauce.

Non-meat eaters will find vegan and vegetarian options, such as a zucchini-and-artichoke pie topped with basil pesto cream. You can also build your own pizza. Prices range from $13 to $17.

Beyond the pizzas, Red Light’s previous bar food menu of flatbreads and fried shrimp will be swapped out for a small selection of new appetizers and salads. Look for burrata with spicy pepperonata and sungold tomatoes, cannellini bean dip, and meatballs in tomato sauce—all served with foccacia. Detroit redwings (boneless chicken wings) are tossed in a Calabrian chili-garlic butter and served with a house-made ranch and pickle chips.

As of now, no changes are planned to the drink selection. Stay tuned for GrubHub delivery coming soon.

Red Light. 1401 R St., NW. 202-234-0400. 

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.