I wish death on nobody, but if you’re a pizza lover in the Delray area then I wish a trip to Death By Pizza upon you sooner rather than later. It is Detroit-style pizza done right — thick, crunchy along the edges, soft and pillowy in the center, baked in a rectangular steel pan with cheese caramelized to a brown crisp around the perimeter, and sauce streaked across the top of the cheese.
This treat is now available Wednesday through Sunday (4-8 pm) in a new standalone location at 528 NE 2nd Street, in the former site of The New Vegan cafe. The brother/sister duo of Koby and Zoey Wexler started the concept during the pandemic as a Sunday-only popup at Two Fat Cookies, the bakery their family runs off the Avenue. Now the pizza is ready for its breakout, full-time moment.
I grew up loving thick, square Sicilian pies in my native Brooklyn, and dare I say the simple “Enemy” pie ($24) of mozzarella and sweet sauce evoked memories of L&B Spumoni Gardens on a good day, and the “Vodka Roni” pie ($28) with Ezzo pepperoni cups, vodka sauce and fresh basil took things to a heavenly level. Koby puts a roasted long hot pepper in every box because he says he loves the smoky aroma it suffuses around the pie while it travels home, but I couldn’t keep my lid on for long.
Even though it’s takeout and delivery only, Koby saw me drooling like a starving dachshund as he sliced my pies and scattered fresh basil atop the roni pie, so he grabbed a couple of paper plates to allow my eating partner and I to eat standing at the front counter. Zoey was nice enough to bestow one of her half-pound chocolate chip cookies upon us.
For the pizza, Koby uses a naturally fermenting sourdough whose starter/mother base is constantly fed, and the double-deck Pizza Master oven is set to 575 degrees to achieve the perfect textural mix of crunchy/crispy corners and edges and soft/pillowy center.
I’m of the opinion that any style of pizza can be great and should be appreciated for what it is — and Delray is fortunate to have all styles represented well (Neapolitan at Rossano’s, New Haven at Ah-Beetz, NY-style pies and slices at Avellino’s and Jack’s, Chicago tavern thin and deep dish at Windy City, and whatever you want to call the very good pies at Le Sorelle).
The Wexlers have already heard enough griping from ex-Northeasterners who prefer round, thin-crust pies with triangular slices that they are planning to start offering NY style round pies in early 2023.
But for those who say they don’t like Detroit-style pizza, or don’t think they’ll like it, my advice is to try the pies offered here. You just might think it’s to die for. Or, as I like to say, “To live for.”
Death By Pizza, 528 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach. 561-666-9111. Open 4-8 pm Wednesday-Sunday, takeout/delivery only, no tables or seating. (Photos by Stephen Dickstein).