East coast, West coast, or Third Coast? Pizza lovers and foodies are enjoying Prague’s newest gastro offering originating from the city of Detroit, Michigan.
Two American expats are bringing a fresh yet traditional item to Prague’s blossoming food industry. Under the name Third Coast Pizza, Richard Hawes and Ross VanSlambrouck have started dishing out Detroit style Pizzas using a pop-up operation around the city of Prague.
Third Coast Pizza started as a passion project during the early stages of the pandemic to make Detroit style pizzas for friends and has now grown into a foodie endeavor with demand that has been hard to meet. “When we first started our intention was simply to bring a different style of pizza with an artisanal approach to Prague’s food industry,” said Cameron. It became clear after their first couple cooks sold out in mere hours that there was a high demand for Detroit style pizza and that inspired Ross and Cameron to continue to grow their operation over the last year.
Detroit style pizza is new to Prague however its roots go back over 70 years to when relatives of Sicilian immigrants in Detroit Michigan started using unused oil pans from Detroit’s automotive factories to make square, deep dish pizzas to serve at their restaurant Buddy’s rendezvous and the tradition was born. Along with the special pans which give the iconic crusted cheesy edge known as “frico”, Detroit style pizza is defined by a dough with a high hydration (over 70%), aromatic cheese, and sauce on top of the cheese. “We stick to the traditional pillars of Detroit style pizza but we do enjoy innovation and bringing an artisanal approach to our product,” said Ross.
Their dough undergoes over 100 hours of fermentation before it ever hits the pan and even then, each dough ball must rise for 6 hours in the pan before it’s ready to be built into a Third Coast pizza. “We really prioritize high quality ingredients and love to have fun with the recipes,” Ross commented. Looking at their ever-revolving menu of different pizza toppings it’s clear this is not your typical European affair. From Ruben pizzas with pastrami and sourcrout to pizzas with tater-tots or strawberries and pesto or even Asian and Mexican inspired variants Third Coast Pizza has produced over 35 unique pizzas since they started. Their focus on high quality ingredients that are sourced locally has led to many great partnerships with local restaurants and businesses. “We live in this city and know it has much to offer and many people eager to work together” said Ross, “We love exploiting that and the response from the community has been awesome”. These partnerships have come in many forms, Third Coast uses cheese made by local producer Mozzarellart, bacon and other meat products from Take Eat EZ BBQ, and spicy sauces and jams from World of Chili among many other local vendors. “The desire is not to disrupt the food scene here but really to compliment it. Prague is a happening place with lots of wonderful people and food to try at any given time. We are excited to be a part of that” commented Cameron.
Third Coast holds cooks every other week hosted by different restaurants around Prague at popular locations like U Kurelu, Peter’s Apartment in Vinohrady, and Lya’s Beer Café in Versovice among others. The model is a preorder system that allows people to order their pizza a week in advance. This allows Third Coast to not only keep food waste to a minimum but also maintain their focus on quality and innovation. “We are typically sold out within an hour or two of the order form opening” Cameron said “It’s great to see so much excitement around our product and we are working hard to keep up with demand”. However if people miss the preorder window or simply can’t decide if they want pizza a week in advance Third Coast Pizza does offer slices for walk-in customers at every cook while they last.
Cameron and Ross along with their social media guru and the third member of the crew Michael Rogers are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do and the pizza they make. You can find them at the upcoming Street Food Festival on 24.4 at Cross Club or check out Instagram (@Third_Coast_Pizza) or Facebook where they provide news and updates about their upcoming menus and cook locations. Said Cameron “We have a great local following of dedicated Detroit pizza enthusiasts. We love meeting new people and sharing our ideas and menus with all who want to try something traditionally Detroit but new in Prague”.