Visit Motown Square for a Taste of Detroit

Business Briefs

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Motown Square Chef/Owner Paulos Belay with his signature pepperoni pizza. Photo by Alexander M. Padro, Courtesy Shaw Main Streets.

The spirit of Motown and Detroit culture is alive in the Shaw neighborhood at Motown Square Pizza (1819 7th St. NW). Chef/owner Paulos Belay relocated to DC after culinary school and found himself homesick for Detroit-style pizza. Without any Detroit-style eateries close by, Belay turned to his own kitchen and started experimenting with recipes in his apartment. His friends served as taste testers early in the pandemic. 

In April 2022, Belay opened his pizzeria and quickly became a part of Shaw’s vibrant restaurant scene. Belay previously worked at Buddy’s Pizza, an iconic Detroit establishment and a place Belay says is credited with the creation of Detroit-style pizza, where he “fell in love” with the dish. The pizza, a rectangular pie with the sauce on top, is a unique offering for those who love crisp corners. 

“Most people think that the corners are the best slices, and I tend to agree with that,” Belay said of his pizza. 

Aside from the style, Belay said, the quality and source of the ingredients set his pie apart from others. “I use really good ingredients for the pizza, and I hope that sticks out because I do have a pastry background and I went to culinary school for baking,” Belay said. “I really take pride in the dough, and I think we have the best. We also import the cheese from Wisconsin, and I try to make the most authentic Detroit pie in the city. I feel like I owe it to everybody back home to do that.” 

Belay said that the community response to his pizza has been overwhelmingly positive and noted that there are more “transplants” from Michigan living in the DC area than he initially realized. “It’s been pretty cool connecting with people that had the pizza before, and also the people here who’ve never heard of anything like that but still enjoy the pizza.”

The pizzeria offers a variety of pies named after Detroit streets and neighborhoods, in addition to salads and baked pasta dishes. Michigander pro tip: be sure to ask for Detroit’s own Vernor’s Ginger Ale to complete your meal.

Motown Square Pizza is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday from noon to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8:00 p.m. You can learn more about the menu and place an online order at www.motownsquaredc.com. 

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.