Chef Bruno DiFabio and Tony Sacco put their heads together to create a New York vibe right here in the “D.”
Photos courtesy of Mootz Pizzeria + Bar
When you introduce an award-winning New York-born pizza expert to a Detroit-based pizza guru, the possibilities are endless. Bruno DiFabio and Tony Sacco have officially joined forces, bringing New York-style pizza to Detroit with the creation of Mootz Pizzeria + Bar.
While DiFabio and Sacco hail from different culinary backgrounds, they ultimately bonded over their love of pizza.
DiFabio began experimenting with pizza-making at age 12 while working at his grandfather’s restaurant in Manhattan and was immediately hooked. He eventually opened Amore Cucina & Bar in Stamford, Conn., and now owns 12 restaurants around the country.
In addition to his business ventures, he spent time in Italy, South America and California to learn from the pros and now holds the title of six-time champion in the World Pizza Games.
Like DiFabio, Sacco found his passion at an early age. He began experimenting with rolling pizza dough in his aunt’s basement as a youngster and landed his first job in 1968 at a Detroit pizzeria.
Since then, Sacco has gained a solid reputation in Metro Detroit and has more than 50 years of restaurant ownership under his belt, including the Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizzas chain.
While many locals love a classic Detroit pie, Sacco and DiFabio decided on changing up the local pizza game.
They named their restaurant after mozzarella cheese, emphasizing the Italian pronunciation of those white globs of goodness.
After finding a name and choosing the location on Library Street, DiFabio and Sacco set to work on creating the ultimate pizza.
They chose the Biga method, which involves an 18-hour fermentation process at room temperature followed by fermentation in a cold environment for another 48 hours.
The end result is worth the wait, producing a light and airy dough that is easy to digest, with plenty of bubbles and just the right amount of crunch.
The dough is topped with a generous helping of homemade tomato sauce from a family-owned cannery in Modesto, Calif. The tomatoes are picked and packed in three hours, with no added water or citric acid.
“Our pizza sauce is a well-seasoned sauce, which is a characteristic of New York pizza — it has Pecorino Romano, Sicilian olive oil, basil, parsley, oregano, sea salt, pepper and garlic powder,” DiFabio explains.
The final ingredient comes from Brownsville, Wis. — a heavy-handed dose of high-quality, whole milk mozzarella.
After a successful soft opening, Mootz’s official opening day was Jan. 28. Now, diners can indulge in 13 varieties of pizza with catchy names and lots of toppings.
The Original Tomato Pie is a crowd-pleaser featuring pinched sausage, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, fresh oregano and a drizzle of olive oil.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Nuts and Bolts is loaded with hot salami, pepperoni, pinched sausage, tomatoes, caramelized onion, green olives and a robust marinara.
The menu boasts tempting salads and starters like the burrata and Nonna’s Meatballs. Diners can also choose from six varieties of hoagies, plus seafood and pasta dishes.
Locals who are craving just a slice or two can stop by Side Hustle, a pizza counter next to the restaurant with a fast-paced, big city vibe. On Friday and Saturday nights, Side Hustle stays open until 3 a.m.
“[At Side Hustle] you’re going to get that New York City hustle and bustle right in Detroit,” DiFabio says.
Mootz was built from the ground up and designed by the talented Carmine Martone, who is famous for crafting the Fox Theatre marquee and other Detroit landmarks.
The interior comfortably seats 100 guests with a mix of booths and tables, plus an 18-seat bar. Diners can also expect live music throughout the week.
Mootz is a “cashless” restaurant, only accepting debit and credit card payments. Online ordering will also be available soon at mootzpizzeria.com.
Mootz Pizzeria + Bar
1230 Library St., Detroit
2 free hours of validated parking available in the Z Deck