A slice of detroit style pizza with cup pepperoni and a crispy frico edge of melted cheese.
Behold the frico edge, the magic that makes Detroit-style pizza sing. | Eric Gibson / Vittles&Nosh
pizza review

Orlando’s Best Pizza Comes From Detroit.

SoDough Square’s Detroit style is home to the best pizza in Orlando and we’re not afraid to say it.
By Eric Gibson | November 3, 2023

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It is the end of pizza polarity.  

Well, it has been for a while now.  For 75 years, since the first square pizza was served up at Buddy’s Pizza, Detroit style has joined the pizza paradigm pantheon, standing shoulder to shoulder with the big boys over in Chicago and New York.  

Nowadays though, it feels like there’s a pizza style for nearly every region, burb, and borough.  We’re looking at you Brier Hill Style.  But Detroit style is having its moment, including being the best pizza in Orlando.

SoDough Square is Orlando’s Best Pizza

Those might be fighting words, but hear us out.    

There are quite simply three fundamentals that make even the most basic pizza a…well a pizza (more on this below); the crust, the sauce, and the cheese.

SoDough Square nails every one of them.  

Their dough ferments for up to three days before being smushed into authentic blue steel pans.  This fermentation also means that our daily dough is in limited supply. Once the dough is gone, that’s it for the day.  Pizza in demand. 

The sauce, made in-house, is the perfect combo of not too sweet and just enough hearty… Wait, that sounds like an ad read. Let’s try again. SoDough’s sauce isn’t syrupy sweet, it isn’t chunky, and it definitely isn’t watery.  Their sauce is savory… a touch garlicky? Nope.  Still not hitting it. 

Whatever they do to those tomatoes in Stanislaus County to make a sauce like this, they’re doing it right.  Slapped full of flavor, this “pillar of pizza perfection” can stand on its own but when combined with Sodough’s dough… Oh. My. Goodness.

Writing about this pizza and not having one close by is torture. 

And then there’s cheese.  Block cheese, shredded as they go, straight from Wisconsin and spread to the edges.  Everyone knows block cheese melts better, so every square slice of Sodough’s pizza comes with gooey, melty cheese fighting to let go, stretching with each bite. 

It’s safe to say with SoDough’s bedrock of deliciousness they make a darn good pizza, but what makes them the king of Orlando’s pizza dominion is Detroit Style.  

The Nitty-Gritty On What Detroit Pizza Is

We mentioned above the three pillars of a perfect pizza pie: crust, sauce, and cheese.  Each element has its own fervent following, its own rabid fans that declare the pizza rule of law is defined by it and it alone.  

For Detroit-style pizza, the three commandments are the shape, the layering, and the frico edge. 

That’s it. 

But before we dig in too deep, here’s some history.   

The annals of truth known as the internet claim that the pizza was born at Buddy’s Rendezvous in 1946 when owner Gus Guerra spread the dough, his Sicilian mother-in-law’s recipe, into “dripping pans”  the square metal pans that were used on automotive lines to hold parts or catch drippings.  

These blue steel pans were everywhere, so Gus repurposed a few.

So, why the fuss over some square pans? 

Blue Steel: The Perfect Pizza Pan

Beyond being readily accessible, the steel parts and dripping pans that Gus used were magical.  Like cast iron, but way lighter, they heated evenly and kept hot through the baking process.  The heat was consistent which meant the edges and bottom came out evenly golden brown. 

The square shape became the hallmark of Detroitstyle pizza, deeper than a hand-tossed, but not as hefty as Chicago’s goliath pies to the west. 

Shape and crust aside, there’s still more to Detroit pizza than the pan it’s baked in. 

Upsidedown Toppings and Brick Cheese

In the commandments of real Detroit pizza, two sins shall not be committed.  

First, the sauce goes on top.  Be it dolloped, striped, slapped, or slathered, it’s the last ingredient to go on.  Secondly, Wisconsin brick cheese, in all its buttery tangy goodness is required.  Mix it up with some other cheeses if you must, but never ever skimp out on that white block cheese.  

Any and all toppings are accepted in the Church of Great Pizza, but in our temple of Detroit, they go on first, never last.  Common favorites are hot honey, sausage, and our personal favorite, cup pepperoni. 

But it’s not the topsy-turvy toppings that make this pizza to die for.  It’s that frico edge.  

The Frico Edge Is Detroit Pizza Defined

Frico? If the term is new to you, there’s a chance you already love it.

Frico is an Italian snack made of cheese baked or fried until it melts and browns.  It’s left to cool into a crispy, chip-like snack. 

Simply, frico is melted, browned cheese.  Sometimes the best part of really mess nachos, or those crazy cheese skirts at Squeeze Inn in Sacramento.  

Mouth. Watering. 

So what happens when you stuff some super melty Wisconsin brick to the very edges of the pizza pan?  Fricken frico.  A crispy, browned cheese crust that reigns in the toppings and sauce and gives every bite a satisfying crunch. 

Other pizzas might do a variation, but with the combination of the square steel pans and the thick cheese toppings, Detroit does it better.  

We’ll give you a moment to let the emotions settle. 

The SoDough Square Story 

The man behind the square is thankfully a Detroit native.  But he doesn’t just do the pizza thing. 

Robert Bair, SoDough’s owner, moved to Orlando from the Motor City in 2001, where he found success in two other restaurant concepts.  

Concepts that were absolutely not in the same realm as pizza. 

Gringos Locos is a fast-service Mexican restaurant is open from 11 am to 3 am, serving central Florida’s hungry or hungover delicious Mexican favorites like tacos, burritos, and so much more. The menu is vast, as are the “Best of” awards it has been showered with since 2011.  Gringos Locos has locations across the city. 

Secondly, and still not pizza, Bair opened Tin & Taco, another counter service style joint serving up insanely good tacos, salads, wraps, and bowls with a unique spin.  They also serve beer, good and proper craft beer by the can, something different than other fast counter type restaurants. 

Tin & Taco’s The Notorious P.I.G. | Vittles&Nosh

Yet again a killer concept that was well-received by Orlandoans, and showered with its own awards.  And for good reason…this stuff is good. 

But Bair was a Detroit native down to his roots and there wasn’t a proper pizza place serving up Detroit style to be found in Orlando. In fact, there wasn’t one at all.  So Bair made his own. 

Plopped down in Orlando’s “SoDo” district, fittingly on Michigan Street, SoDough Square is the perfect name for the best pizza in Orlando.

We’re not the only ones that feel that way.  Sodough is killing it, even running out of dough and selling out on some days.  When we stopped in, the counter was busy and the door didn’t stop swinging.  In and out, patrons in, square boxes out.  

The crowds have come, and like Bair’s other concepts, this one is collecting awards like Pokemon cards.  

So that’s that.  SoDough is the best pizza in Orlando.  Yeah, we said it again.

Are we fighting now?  Did we just try to declare Detroit-style pizza better than any other style?  Maybe.  In Orlando at least.  And until we find somewhere else to take the crown, we’re happy to make this a pit stop every time we land in central Florida.

SoDough Square has two locations in the Orlando area.  Check their social for updates as they really do run out of dough.  Go early, go often.  And while you’re there try the Triple Threat from the secret menu.  Jalapenos, hot honey, and crushed red peppers.  Hoo yah. 

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