It’s cliche to say that great things are often born of bad situations. But in the case of Observation Pizza, well, cliches are cliche for a reason.
Nick Vella—a Michigan-born chef of Maltese heritage—was chef de cuisine at The Savoy at 21c before the coronavirus pandemic.
Bored and restless, Vella started making pizzas and delivering them to Observation Park, which overlooks the West Crossroads. When the pies proved popular, he rented a commercial kitchen in the Bauer Building. The pop-up currently operates on a tight schedule. (Plans are in flux, but Vella says the concept will exist in some form even after Savoy reopens.)
These hybrid pies are a Midwestern riff on the classic Neapolitan, built off a more substantial crust with plenty of sourdough character from a two-day ferment. His sauce is also a hybrid, made with cooked and uncooked canned tomatoes to get both body and zing.
Toppings are not traditional—and better for it. We love the Bobby Shazam, named for Detroit car dealership heir turned rap-rocker Robert James Ritchie Sr. That pie features mortadella, pepperoni, pepperoncinis and green olives that are blasted with American cheese, ranch dressing and oregano.