Grand Rapids occupies territory on a peninsula in Michigan that is bordered on one side by Lake Michigan and on the other by Lake Huron. See Grand Rapids today and it's hard to imagine the same area was once covered with dense forests where the only structures made by man were a couple of wooden shack-type fur trading posts and a missionary. Grand Rapids was still a minor settlement in the early 19th century and it was only when a group of land speculators and timber merchants began to take an interest in the rural terrains that its progress from humble beginnings to metropolis was initiated. As the lumber industry became more established and the cleared land became available at low prices, pioneering settlers started to move to Grand Rapids. When an automobile manufacturer moved its production plant to Grand Rapids, the city's economic boom began in earnest. Opportunities for small businesses like pizzerias were plentiful so Italians opened up shop and started serving the local community with the gastronomical phenomena known as pizza.
Whether Grand Rapids is known for pan-baked pizza because of a lack of kitchen equipment, like electric ovens, during the early days, is unclear. It's pan-baked pizzas that are the preferred type in the city though and the most commonly found on the pizzeria menus. When it comes to size, shape, and taste, there's not a great deal of difference between a pan-baked pie and a thick crust. It’s nothing new either as pizzas were baked in metal pans in Italy for decades before any Italian migrants arrived in North America. Using a pan was one way of helping the pizza maintain its circular shape and protects the bottom of the base from scorching when in a super hot oven. That's particularly relevant if a traditional type of oven like a coal or wood-fired one is being used. The dough in a pan-baked pizza is exactly the same as in a thick crust and it's almost impossible to differentiate between the two once the pie has been removed from the pan.
You'll be in for a nice surprise if you order a pie from Palermo Pizza Place. It has to be the best delivery pizza in Grand Rapids by a long chalk. Pizza making for the chefs in this pizzeria is more of an art form than cooking and they just love to get creative when they're in the kitchen. The Palermo Pizza Place, as you might have guessed from the name, is focused on Sicilian pies, but that's not all they make in this counter and kitchen-oriented pizzeria. You can sit and eat there, but you'd need to be quick as the minimal chairs and tables don't encourage relaxed dining. That's not something to worry about though when you're getting your pie delivered. If each and every one of the Palermo Pizza Place's pies weren't so individually great they could copyright them, but as it is, they can't because they're all unique.
Drop by Faro's Italian Pizza on 28th Street SE and you're guaranteed to get not just any old pizza, but the best take-out pizza in Grand Rapids. Faro's are bakers of the true Italian pizza and stick to original recipes for their thick crust pies. The range they make is almost endless so it'll take you longer to decide which one to order than it will for the chef to cook it. Don't let the exterior of Faro's lull you into thinking that they're operating a fast food or burger outlet. They're not. Faro's is all about pizza in its truest form so get prepared for a real pie treat. Not only do Faro's dish up a great thick crust, they serve super strombolis and calzones. Pan baking is their preferred method of cooking and if you want a variation, they're more than happy to make you a Chicago-style deep dish too.
The Grand River is a waterway that meanders through Michigan at a leisurely pace. In bygone days, it was often covered bank to bank with tree trunks and one spot they would always jam up was in Grandville. Take a hike along the riverside through Johnson Park and you'll be able to imagine what it was like to be a logger trying to unblock the chaos. It was hard work, and while you can go for a pizza at Primo Pizza on Wilson Avenue after your walk, at best the poor loggers had to make do with pork and beans.
Land at the Gerald R Ford International Airport and you'll be right on the edge of Cascade. Before you drive the fifteen miles to Grand Rapids take time to have a look around this town. It won't take long before you realize there's not a great deal to do there unless you have a set of clubs and head for the golf greens. If you're not into golf, pick up a pizza from Frosty Boy of Cascade and go for a picnic in Leslie E Tassell Park.
When you want to do something different with the kids, hit the US-131 and head north out of Grand Rapids in the direction of Cedar Springs. En route to this rural town, you'll find the signs to the Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park. There you can take a drive-thru safari that will have the kid's noses pressed against the car windows as they see all the animals up close. They'll love it even more when they get a chance to feed baby goats, pigs, donkeys, and camels. You can get them a great pizza dinner at Nonno's Homestyle Italian on 17 Mile Road.
Q: 🍕What restaurant has the best gluten-free pizza in Grand Rapids?
Q: 🍕What restaurant has the best Chicago-style pizza in Grand Rapids?
Q: 🍕What restaurant has the best veggie pizza in Grand Rapids?
Q: 🍕What restaurant has the best stromboli in Grand Rapids?