Pie-Sci: Full Circle Pizza
To get an idea of how Jeremy Damaske comes up with his outside-the-box pizzas, a prime example would be the process behind the creation of the Mosta-Spicoli, which is a garden sauce mostaccioli pasta with Italian sausage, red onion, mozzarella and shaved Parmesan cheese.
“I got asked to do a pizza for a punk rock show, and the punk rock show had a Fast Times at Ridgemont High theme,” recalls the owner of Pie-Sci in Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood. “I started looking at [characters like] Spicoli [the stoned surfer portrayed by Sean Penn] … mostaccioli … Mosta-Spicoli!”
That pizza is now on the menu at the pizzeria, which started as a pop-up a few years ago at Woodbridge Pub, and it’s joined by other creative pies such as Lil Kimchi with sesame-peanut sauce with bacon, chicken and mozzarella topped with the spicy Korean condiment, and the So Fresco, So Clean, a pizza version of the popular Mexican street food elotes with garlic oil, fresh roasted corn, mozzarella, queso fresco, cilantro, lime wedge and herb mayo drizzle.
Damaske, a musician who plays in a punk band, loves wordplay—which is obvious after perusing the menu chock full of pop culture references. “Pizza is a canvas you can do anything with,” he says. The pizza will start with a name or a topping and he, his head chef and his team go from there.
The menu is divided up into different categories: Basics (Pizza Elementary), Complex (Pizza High) and Graduate (U of Pizza). More traditional pizzas such as Meatlovers, Veggie D, Margherita and BLT fall under the Basics, with the other categories featuring former specials and seasonally inspired pies.
Then there’s the Science Lab, which features weekly experiments in pizza; recently Pie-Sci offered a pierogi pizza, which had full pierogies atop cream cheese and smoked salmon.
Many of the components are made in house, such as the falafel on the Chick Chick Chick Pea, the herb mayo drizzle on the BLT and the kimchi on the aforementioned Lil Kimchi. With a menu that boasts plenty of vegan and vegetarian options (it’s not simply taking off the cheese), many of those components are also housemade from tofu “bacon” to cashew cheese.
Damaske has made pizzas since working in a pizzeria at age 15. Years later he sought the advice of his mentor, Jim Geary, the owner of Woodbridge Pub, about opening a pizza place. A few months later Geary asked Damaske about doing the pizza pop-up there.
That helped Damaske experiment and play around with different flavor profiles and build up a following. After four and a half years doing pizza on Sunday nights, he opened the brick and mortar on Trumbull Avenue in July 2016. The business has been growing steadily since and got a nice boost after appearing on Food Network’s “Ginormous Foods.”
After starting out as a pop-up himself, there’s a nice bit of symmetry now that Damaske has opened his doors to other pop-ups such as the upcoming Woodbridge Bikes and Coffee café and Cloud Bites, which does vegan glutenfree ice cream sandwiches. His head chef, Chuck Lepinski, loves to do breakfast foods and started doing a brunch pop-up on Sundays. Hosting these pop-ups brings it all “full circle,” he says.
Find out more at PieSciPizza.com.