A ricotta cheese spread starter at Mootz in Detroit, Michigan

Mootz Pizzeria and Bar: Detroit, Michigan

The Mootz in Mootz Pizzeria and Bar, pronounced “moo-tz,” is the slang term that New Yorkers and Italians use for mozzarella cheese. Their Mootz, award-winning fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese, appears as a star ingredient throughout the menu.

Location: Mootz Pizzeria and Bar, located at 1230 Library Street in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Find the restaurant’s website here.

Menu: The main feature on Mootz’s menu is authentic New York pizza, not New York-style pizza, but rather the real thing, according to Bruno DiFabio, the six-time World Pizza Champion who helped develop the menu.

The menu also includes various Italian classics, like pasta and meatballs, where they make everything from high-quality ingredients. Vegan, vegetarians, and those who prefer gluten-free will find a tasty dish on Mootz’s menu. The menu indicates those choices that meet the specific criteria.

Gluten-free pizza is available in two ways: a gluten-free bread crust and the other as a cauliflower crust. Both vegans and those who prefer gluten-free will enjoy the finocchio salad, made with shaved fennel, arugula, avocado, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. They dress the salad with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

The pao de queijo are also gluten-free. These Brazilian cheese rolls tossed in garlic butter served with choice of ranch or marinara is a new addition to the menu.

Several dishes listed honey as an ingredient—regular honey, hot honey, and truffled honey all appeared in various menu items. I wondered if perhaps they had beekeeping on the roof as some modern restaurants have started. It turns out that they don’t. It seems that Tony, the owner, and Bruno like the taste of honey with pizza. Surprisingly it is a delicious yet uncommon combination.

Thoughts: The restaurant has a modern chic atmosphere, with upbeat music playing softly in the background. Life-sized murals of key restaurant figures add to the décor. Bricks spell out Mootz in various colors behind the counter.

The New York Pizza is a medium-bodied crust made from biga, an aged dough recipe that creates a noticeably light and airy yet still crispy crust. They prefer the biga dough to go through a three-day fermentation process; although they will use the two-day dough, but will never use the same-day dough.

Then, they bake the pizza in a 700-degree, gas-fired domed brick oven. The chef makes the sauce from vine-ripened tomatoes and seasons it using lots of spices and fresh herbs. Finally, they use a generous amount of award-winning fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese.

At the bottom of the menu, a note from Bruno DiFabio indicates, “Absolutely no substitutions to our award-winning pizzas.”

One of my favorite dishes was the Truffled Bumblebee that starts with a whipped sheep’s milk ricotta. They pipe the ricotta in a zigzag pattern down the center of a circular plate and then top it with a honeycomb and truffle honey. Then they tuck three Tony’s bread toast points on each side, and each toast point has a small fig half positioned on top of it. Voila! The result is a delicious spread with toast points that looks like a bumblebee. How fun! The Tony’s bread that accompanies this dish is a lightly toasted raisin-type bread. If you run out of Tony’s bread before you finish the ricotta, you can always dip some of your pizza crust to finish it off.

Mootz is famous for their house-made creamy Italian dressing, so be sure to try one of the salads they top with it, like the Italian Chopped, the Bensonhurst, or the Library salad. The dressing is thin enough to coat the leaves without leaving the salad overdressed.

Price Range: Starters range from $8 for meatball sliders to $24 for the Sharing Plank that serves four. Pizzas start at $13 for a personal pie to $21 for a shareable eight slices. Salads start at $3 for a simple side salad to $9 for an individual portion or $12 for a regular portion of an entrée-style salad. Hoagies are $10, served with a side salad. Pasta ranges from $14 for the spaghetti to $17 for the Tuscan Pasta or the Gemelli Pasta. All of the desserts are $7.50. Dinner for two is about $50, including taxes and gratuity.

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