The Motor City comes to the Hostess City with Detroit-style pies from Pizza Club food pop-ups

For Detroit transplant Steve Troxell, a pandemic pizza-making hobby has gone public, thanks to a series of popular pop-ups dubbed Pizza Club.

A graphic designer by day, Troxell perfected his pies over the past year with plenty of help from willing taste-testers, including the bar staff at Moodright’s on Abercorn Street. The first Pizza Club went live in September at the adjoining Over Yonder, and he’s been slinging Detroit-style pizza every month since, with plans to expand offerings in 2022.

Steve Troxwell at his home in Savannah, GA Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Troxwell has run a number of Detroit-style pizza pop-ups in Savannah.

Troxell’s experiments in the kitchen were initially designed to answer the question he had when he first moved to Savannah with his girlfriend Leah Van Namen five years ago: Where’s all the good pizza? He quickly made friends and fell in love with the food scene, but he hadn’t realized the rectangular pies of his upbringing were a regional thing, he said.

He’d often summon Jet’s Pizza on Abercorn, but with the chain’s closure, he was left without a homegrown fix. So, he turned to his own devices, and soon Pizza Club was born.

More: Athens and Savannah unite, Over Yonder brings unique late night food to Starland District

Bringing the Motor City to the Hostess City

For the uninitiated, Detroit-style pizza is all about the crust, Troxell explained.

Dine Savannah: Where to find a bagel bodega by day, pizza patio by night in Savannah

“It should be thick but airy, and crispy on the bottom,” he said. “I liken it to a focaccia — very fluffy.”

The other rules are it should be a square or rectangle and the cheese should go all the way to the edge like a crust, with the sauce on top.

A view of a pizza made by Steve Troxwell at his home in Savannah, GA Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Troxwell has run a number of Detroit-style pizza pop-ups in Savannah.

Beyond that, there is some debate among connoisseurs. Troxell dots his sauce instead of striping it for example, and while the traditional topping is a mix of mozzarella and Wisconsin brick cheese — difficult to locate south of the Mason-Dixon — he substitutes Monterey Jack, which has a similar melting quality.

He also had to get creative with his pans when professional quality proved too pricey for an amateur chef. He found an alternative with a lid intended for brownies, which allows the dough to proof as opposed to how they’re stretched before baking in traditional pies.

Steve Troxwell removes a pizza from the oven at his home in Savannah, GA Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Troxwell has run a number of Detroit-style pizza pop-ups in Savannah.

Unplugged: National press shines a light on upcoming Savannah restaurants, furthering 'food town' pedigree

The result? Troxell has sold out of pies each pop-up, and said he’s even found other Detroit ex-pats who’ve given their seal of approval. The preorders run out quickly after dates are announced via Instagram, and he makes double the order in-person the day of.

Pizza Club fan Peterson Worrell, who has turned on alerts for @pizzaclub_sav to make sure he doesn’t miss out, said the pies are the perfect addition to the Savannah foodscape.

Steve Troxwel prepares a pizzal at his home in Savannah, GA Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Troxwell has run a number of Detroit-style pizza pop-ups in Savannah.

Dine Savannah: Looking to buck the pizzeria trend, Midtown Pizza fills void in Savannah Medical Arts plaza

“Their pizza is such a welcome change! With so many places doing New York-style pizza in town, it’s nice to have a different option,” he said. “And the crust! Definitely made from scratch and the perfect balance of crispy and buttery without being greasy at all.”

Savannah gains ground in the 'pop-up' food scene

Pizza Club joins a plethora of pop-ups that bring a variety of cuisines to town for a limited time only. Some, like Venezuelan street-food purveyor Troupial, built a following as pop-ups before becoming brick-and-mortars.

Natasha Gaskill prepares a loaf of bread at her home in Savannah, GA Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021.

Formerly a mobile food truck, Big Bon Bodega now operates the Big Bon Ghost Kitchen, which offers sous chefs the opportunity to express culinary talents at special events without having to find a space or deal with overhead.

More: Natasha Gaskill is going with the pop-up flow and making delectable treats all around Savannah

Pastry chef Natasha Gaskill, whose fine-dining stints include Husk and the Grey, has also pivoted to pop-ups in 2021 in partnership with executive chef Matt Palmerlee. The duo’s summer ice cream residencies at Finches Sandwiches and one-night-only North African-inflected dinners under the moniker Hotel Lugash has allowed Gaskill to pilot flavors and combinations without the pressure of building a larger brand.

For Troxell, pop-ups are a chance to flex his talents in a new industry in which his previous experience is confined to a teenage stint at Detroit pizza chain Buscemi’s.

With the next Pizza Club coming amid a new home purchase – he and Van Namen are here to stay — Troxell said he intends to go full steam ahead in the New Year with offerings every two weeks.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Pizza Club offers Detroit-style pizza at food pop-ups in Savannah GA