Shield's: Family-Friendly Pizza Chain Serves It Up Detroit-Style
Since 1937 Shield's has been serving its take on Detroit-style pizza along with a number of other menu items, including Sanders cream puffs.
Pizza can cause family divides. The merits of thin crust versus deep dish could be argued for days. For me, I can delight in both thin and deep-dish varieties, but there are most definitely good and bad versions of each.
Shield's Pizza is a brightly colored, spacious family restaurant for the most part. There is also a darker bar area for those who can't handle the golden and purple walls in the main dining area. Shield's is a chain–a Michigan-based chain–but a chain nonetheless.
Serving the metro-Detroit area since 1937, Shield's style of pizza follows that of Buddy's, Loui's and Cloverleaf. The problem with being compared to those places is people's preconceived notions of how this style should taste are already quite high. Basically, it is a lot of hype to live up to.
Before we discuss pizza, there are a couple of other items worth considering. Pizza and salad is a classic combination, so it is not surprising that Shield's makes a tasty antipasto salad.
More toppings than lettuce is the rule on these salads. Lots of salami, ham, brick cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, black olives and homemade Italian dressing are piled atop a heap of iceberg lettuce. While all of the toppings and lettuce are fresh, the star is the Italian dressing. Light, tangy and herbaceous, the dressing complements all aspects of this salad.
I would go as far as saying this salad is a must order, even before the pizza.
House-baked bread sticks are served with the salad. Warm, soft and garlicky, they are a good device to sop up any of the dressing that may be left on your plate.
When discussing pizza, it is important to talk about composition. Shield's pizza is Detroit style (deep-dish square) based off the Sicilian tradition of pizza making. The crust is thick and doughy with crisp, slightly burnt edges and a crunchy bottom. At Shield's they place the pepperoni on the pizza beneath the cheese to minimize burning. Sauce is ladled on top of the cheese. Other toppings sit atop the cheese as well.
This layering should translate to a crisp crust, but oddly the crust was soggy. The toppings were fresh and well-charred, the sauce had a slightly sweet and spicy flavor, and the cheese was delicately sharp. No matter how good the toppings tasted, the crust left something to be desired, which means this pizza is strictly average.
Shield's has a full menu outside of pizza. Hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, pasta and ribs are among the other dishes available. The nachos in the appetizer section are excellent and could be eaten as a meal for two.
A Detroit original is available for dessert–the hot fudge cream puff has Sanders hot fudge and a Sanders cream puff. The cream puff is filled with Stroh's vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream. While this isn't a unique dessert, it is comforting because it brings back memories from my childhood.
My mom used to make cream puffs and serve them the same way Shield's does. Good food can spark nostalgia and this cream puff is definitely good. Aside from being tasty, everything on the plate is locally produced, which is always a good thing.
The pizza may have been disappointing on this visit, but that doesn't mean I would tell you to avoid Shield's. Quite the contrary, the salad and cream puff were both spot on and the pizza might be better on later visits. A nice place to take your family for lunch or dinner, Shield's is worth a visit to satiate your pizza craving.