Downtown Detroit’s newest pizza place, Mootz Pizzeria and Bar, is expected to have a soft opening this week. Mootz — short for mozzarella — will serve authentic New York pizza with dine-in and carryout options.
The restaurant is at 1230 Library St. and on the same block as Vincente’s Cuban Cuisine and 7 Greens Detroit Salad Co. It backs up to the trendy Belt alley and is also near downtown sports venues and the Detroit Opera House. It expects to be fully operational by late January and is planning a Jan. 28 grand opening.
At Mootz, expect thin-crust pizzas with a few bubbles and dark spots. The slices are the kind you can fold and eat, a hallmark of New York-style pizza. The menu also includes spaghetti with meatballs larger than a golf ball.
Expected to be especially popular is the pizza-by-the-slice counter, where workers will shout out orders and slices will get a quick reheat in Mootz’s 700-degree pizza ovens. The carryout, called the Side Hustle, has a separate entrance from the restaurant. Pizza slices come from 18-inch round pies that are sliced into six pieces. The Side Hustle will be open late Friday and Saturday nights.
Mootz is co-owned by Tony Sacco and business partner Dean Walters, who say their establishment is the first New York-style pizzeria in downtown Detroit.
“Detroit has an incredibly rich history of pizza and Italian food, which is why we wanted to open our restaurant in the city,” Sacco said in a statement. “We know Mootz’s New York pizza will stand out amongst current offerings downtown and quickly become a favorite with Detroit’s foodies.”
Sacco, 65, has been in the restaurant and pizza business for more than 50 years. He co-founded Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza chain, but later sold his interest in it. Sacco brought in Bruno DiFabio, a pizza expert, restaurant owner and six-time pizza champ, to develop the Mootz menu. It’s DiFabio’s first venture in Detroit.
With pizza, of course, it all starts with the dough. DiFabio said Mootz uses what’s known as “biga.” (He calls it a “mother” dough.) “Its first phase is an 18-hour fermentation at room temperature,” he said. After that, a second phase involves another two days of fermentation.
The advantage of the long fermentation is that it builds flavor, DiFabio said, which results in a “lighter, crisp, airy and flakier crust that’s easy to digest.”
He said the Mootz dough is unique because it’s made with flour aged for up to five months and because Mootz uses “a small amount of condensed milk as the sugar in the dough. This makes for a more healthful crust that’s lower in sugar and carbs.”
The pizza sauce, DiFabio said, is made with vine-ripened tomatoes from a family farm in California and is well seasoned with fresh herbs and spices, pecorino cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.
On the menu are 13 pizzas, including Starry Hope featuring meatballs, caramelized onion, ricotta, mozzeralla and drizzling of house-made pesto. There’s also the OTP, or Original Tomato Pie, with NYC pizza sauce, pinched sausage, mozzarella, oregano, shaved Parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil. Pizzas sell for $14-$17.
There are several appetizers and salad selections including the Library, which features romaine, cherry tomatoes, carrots, radishes, grilled chicken, bacon, feta, candied pecans and house dressing. Salads are $11-$13. Other menu options include old school hoagies, chicken Parmesan, chicken Milanese and pasta specials.
Mootz is in a building owned by Bedrock Detroit, and construction of the restaurant cost more than $2 million, Sacco said. The interior was designed by Northville’s Martone Design Studio, and owner Carmine Martone, an artist and designer, did several of the paintings that hang in the establishment. Sacco said the colorful pizza-style mural at the back of Mootz was done by a local artist known as Ghostbeard. A photo of young Sacco is on the wall of the Side Hustle, as is a portrait of his mother, Maria Sacco.
There is seating for about 100, including 18 seats at the bar. The dining area has a mix of tables and booths that mostly seat parties of two or four.
The long bar features a portrait of Sacco’s grandfather, Nicola Sacco, and offers red and white wine selections that range in price from $8 to $16 a glass. By-the-bottle offerings are $32 and up. Mootz’s has 20 beers on tap, and the draft and bottled beer list has plenty of options, including craft beers from local breweries. There’s also a craft cocktail menu.
Once spring arrives, Mootz plans to offer bicycle delivery and catering, but don’t plan on paying in cash. All transactions are cash-less, but major debit and credit cards are accepted. Two-hour validated parking is also offered at Z Park, which is adjacent to the restaurant.
Contact Free Press food writer Susan Selasky at 313-222-6872 or [email protected] Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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