Considering the countless pizzerias in downtown Manhattan, I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your eyes after hearing another pizza place has taken root, especially once you learn it strays from tradition. No, it isn’t New York-style pizza. And yes, it’s still good.
Lions & Tigers & Squares exclusively serves Detroit-style pan pizzas. Depending on your choice of toppings, a whole pie consisting of four slices goes for between $9 and $14. Alternatively, ordering a “slice” gets you half a pie which is served in a whole pie box that appears to just be sawed in half.
Detroit-style, for those unfamiliar, is somewhere between Sicilian and Chicago-style pizza. It has a thick crust and is baked in a pan like Sicilian pizza but the sauce goes on top of the cheese, as Chicago deep-dish pizza does. Cheese is placed right up to where the crust meets the pan so that the edge crust gets caramelized by butterfat as it bakes. The pie’s shape ensures that every piece is a corner.
The slices at Lions & Tigers & Squares certainly give you plenty of bang for your buck. The crust is wonderfully caramelized and crispy on the edges, yet soft and fluffy on the inside. The cheese is gooey and the sauce is punchy enough to stand out. It’s one of the more economical non-dollar-slice options in the area as well, as a whole pie could easily feed two to four people.
Beyond the pizza itself, the interior of Lions & Tigers & Squares feels thoroughly like a Midwestern pizza place. There’s lots of exposed brick with Detroit memorabilia adorning every wall and, unlike most New York slice shops, there’s plenty of room to sit down and eat. This pizza is far too thick to fold and eat on the go, which might be why Lions & Tigers & Squares provides ample seating in the front of the restaurant.
While the plain cheese is delicious on its own, they don’t hold back as far as toppings go. Adding pepperoni costs about half of the base price of a pie, and while this might seem like a rip-off, they definitely do give you $5 worth. It’s so much that you’ll most likely end up pulling half of it off because you can’t taste anything else.
Lions & Tigers & Squares is a welcome addition to the East Village pizza scene; the pizza is good, the prices are fair and the atmosphere is inviting. Whether you’re interested because you’ve never heard of Detroit-style pizza before, or you’re just looking to switch things up from the foldable New York slices you normally eat, Lions & Tigers & Squares is worth a try.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 25th, 2019 print edition. Email Nicholas Pabon at [email protected]