The thick, cheese-caramelized crust of a signature Detroit-style pizza is available today at KJ’s Pizza in downtown Grass Valley.
“The crust is what makes this type of pizza so different,” said Kathy Jechura, who co-owns KJ’s pizza with her husband, Paul. “The cheese melts in the pan and caramelizes.”
The square-shaped pizza is typically baked in an industrial parts tray and has a thick deep-dish crust layered with toppings, and the sauce is added after baking is finished, giving it the nickname of a “Red Top.” The Jechuras were trained by Shawn Randazzo, co-founder of Detroit Style Pizza Co. and winner of the 2012 Pizza Maker of the Year Award at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
Randazzo also makes the thin-crust “Old Forge” style of pizza, popular in Old Forge, Pa., called the “pizza capital of the world” for its 20 pizza parlors with a population of about 8,000.
“He adopted that style because some people wanted a lighter pizza with a thinner crust,” Paul Jechura said.
“I had been eating Detroit-style pizza since before Shawn was born,” Paul Jechura said. “And when I saw he won the award, I shot him an email, and we kept sending emails back and forth, and he offered to train me to open up a pizza parlor.”
“We’ve always wanted to open a pizza place,” Jechura said. “This concept is unlike anything in Grass Valley.”
The ability to teach the Jechuras his passion is part of Randazzo’s goal to make Detroit-style pizza a household name.
“It deserves the same recognition as other styles of pizza,” Randazzo said. “It gives me a purpose and a huge opportunity to be able to teach people like Paul and Kathy this style of pizza. And I know Detroit has a bad wrap, and I’d like to put Detroit in a positive light.”
KJ’s will offer sandwiches and salads from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., then transition into a pizza place later in the day.
“People can come in during the day and take three minutes to get their fresh sandwiches and salads, and then we will transition, and people can get a round, traditional-style pizza or a Detroit-style pizza,” Paul Jechura said. “There is personal care given to each pizza.”
Detroit-style pizza is a new advent for Grass Valley but not for the Jechuras, who have eaten the pizza at the original Detroit-style pizza place, which opened in 1946, Buddy’s, for years after growing up in the Detroit area.
“We would go to Buddy’s every time someone visited us, and when we go back to visit, they will freeze three pizzas for us the night before, and we take it on the airplane home,” Paul Jechura said.
KJ’s Pizza will offer an array of signature-style pizzas from a pepperoni or “Mucho Meat Supreme” to Randazzo’s winning pizzas, the “Chicken Julius Caesar,” seasoned with all-white-meat chicken, Applewood smoked bacon, Caesar dressing, romaine lettuce and shaved Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and “Kickin’ Chicken” with chicken, bacon, red onions, fresh garlic and Cattleman’s Gold BBQ sauce.
“We still have the traditional pizza combinations or something different,” Paul Jechura said.
KJ’s Pizza is located in the former Quizno’s in downtown Grass Valley at 121 Neal St.
For information, call 530-272-7600 or visit Facebook.com/KJPizza.
“We just want to do a good job,” Kathy Jechura said, “and show just how good a Detroit-style pizza can be.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.