REVIEW: Emmy Squared makes solid Detroit-style pizza and a killer burger

Emmy Squared Pizza has plenty of creative options, including the Shed pie (green tomato, green onion, bacon jam, pimento cheese). It's shown here with the Out of Fashion cocktail. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Emmy Squared Pizza has plenty of creative options, including the Shed pie (green tomato, green onion, bacon jam, pimento cheese). It's shown here with the Out of Fashion cocktail. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

If you still regard ham and pineapple as novelty pizza toppings, where have you even been?

In the past year, I’ve had pies adorned with lemon-pepper chicken wings (Phew’s Pies); Jamaican-influenced callaloo and ackee sauce (Dolos Pizza); and pepperoni, hot honey, red pepper flakes and pickled serranos (Glide Pizza).

Depending on your point of view — purist or adventurer? — we are living in the end times or the golden age of pizza cookery.

And now comes Emmy Squared Pizza, where you can get rectangular, Detroit-style pan pizza lavished with classic Italian embellishments (tomato, basil, mozzarella); fast-food ingredients (cheeseburger, Nashville hot chicken); and staples of New Southern cuisine (green tomatoes, pimento cheese, bacon jam). There’s even a riff on Korean chicken wings, and a cousin of the blooming onion (topped with fried Vidalia petals).

Look what they’ve done to my pizza, ma!

Literally the new kid on the block, Emmy Squared, in the old Shed at Glenwood space, is the work of Emily and Matt Hyland, who opened their first restaurant, Emily, in Brooklyn in 2014 and have transformed this sister concept into a national chain with more than a dozen locations.

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Emmy Squared Pizza’s Brussels sprouts salad is a nice sweet, salty, crunchy pile of shaved Brussels sprouts, pickled red onion, cashews, blue cheese, dried cherry and miso dressing. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)

Credit: Christina Mann Photography

Emmy Squared Pizza’s Brussels sprouts salad is a nice sweet, salty, crunchy pile of shaved Brussels sprouts, pickled red onion, cashews, blue cheese, dried cherry and miso dressing. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)
Caption
Emmy Squared Pizza’s Brussels sprouts salad is a nice sweet, salty, crunchy pile of shaved Brussels sprouts, pickled red onion, cashews, blue cheese, dried cherry and miso dressing. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)

Credit: Christina Mann Photography

Credit: Christina Mann Photography

Riffing on Emily’s name, the shape of the pizza (sort of), and Einstein’s famous formula, Emmy Squared is a welcome diversion from the time-honored, red-checkered-tablecloth pizza parlors where pies are plentiful but the go-withs minimal.

You can surely find places with better Detroit pies, though maybe not one where you may enjoy delicious cocktails, a world-class burger, and a killer wedge, in addition to the namesake offering. Happily, the nicely refurbished room feels more like a neighborhood hangout with friendly service and really good food than a cookie-cutter, corporate-owned endeavor.

I like it a lot. I plan to go back often.

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Though it's part of a chain, Emmy Squared Pizza in Atlanta feels like a neighborhood hangout. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Though it's part of a chain, Emmy Squared Pizza in Atlanta feels like a neighborhood hangout. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Though it's part of a chain, Emmy Squared Pizza in Atlanta feels like a neighborhood hangout. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Pizzas here fall into two main categories — red and white — and can be made gluten free. The red category is where you’ll find familiar flavors; the white is where to look for more creative options, though none are dressed with white sauce.

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Emmy Squared's Colony pizza includes red sauce, mozzarella, cupping pepperoni, pickled jalapenos and honey. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Emmy Squared's Colony pizza includes red sauce, mozzarella, cupping pepperoni, pickled jalapenos and honey. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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Emmy Squared's Colony pizza includes red sauce, mozzarella, cupping pepperoni, pickled jalapenos and honey. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The MVP (red sauce, vodka sauce, pesto and mozzarella) lives up to its name. The seemingly simple ingredients come together with alchemy, and don’t overpower the wonderful golden-brown, crispy-cheesy crust. A winner indeed. I also liked the Colony (red sauce, mozzarella, cupping pepperoni, pickled jalapenos and honey), though Glide dispatches similar ingredients to better effect.

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Emmy Squared’s Zia fries are waffle spuds loaded with Hatch pimento cheese, scallions, bacon and ranch. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)

Credit: Danielle Atkins

Emmy Squared’s Zia fries are waffle spuds loaded with Hatch pimento cheese, scallions, bacon and ranch. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)
Caption
Emmy Squared’s Zia fries are waffle spuds loaded with Hatch pimento cheese, scallions, bacon and ranch. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)

Credit: Danielle Atkins

Credit: Danielle Atkins

On the white side, the Shed (green tomato, green onion, bacon jam, pimento cheese) was over the top in the best of ways, but my friend’s last-minute decision to order a Quinn (ricotta, mozzarella, smoked Gouda) with pepperoni was a bum one — a three-cheese wash.

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Emmy Squared Pizza makes a terrific wedge salad with Nashville hot chicken. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)

Credit: Handout

Emmy Squared Pizza makes a terrific wedge salad with Nashville hot chicken. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)
Caption
Emmy Squared Pizza makes a terrific wedge salad with Nashville hot chicken. (Courtesy of Emmy Squared Pizza)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Indeed, there was one serious misstep, an overly salty eggplant Parm appetizer that our server kindly removed from the bill. Waffle fries topped with Hatch pimento cheese, bacon, scallions and ranch were more gloppy than gooey — which is to say the texture of the cheese suffered from the melting. But our two salads soared: Brussels sprouts with pickled red onion, blue cheese, cashews, dried cherries and miso vinaigrette — and a wedge with Nashville hot chicken, blue cheese, olives, celery, cherry tomatoes, ranch and Alabama white sauce. I can’t say enough nice things about this updated icon.

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You'll probably go to Emmy Squared Pizza for its Detroit-style pizza, but you'll also be tempted by Le Big Matt, a burger with double-stack grass-fed beef patties, American cheese, Sammy Sauce, greens and pickles on a pretzel bun. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

You'll probably go to Emmy Squared Pizza for its Detroit-style pizza, but you'll also be tempted by Le Big Matt, a burger with double-stack grass-fed beef patties, American cheese, Sammy Sauce, greens and pickles on a pretzel bun. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
You'll probably go to Emmy Squared Pizza for its Detroit-style pizza, but you'll also be tempted by Le Big Matt, a burger with double-stack grass-fed beef patties, American cheese, Sammy Sauce, greens and pickles on a pretzel bun. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Though I’d been told that Emily in New York had an exceptional burger, and my colleague Bob Townsend named Emmy Squared’s Le Big Matt one of his favorite dishes in the recent AJC dining guide, I didn’t make the connection until I researched this review. These guys are burger pros, and the one they’ve concocted for Emmy Squared is astonishingly delicious: two grass-fed patties with American cheese, special sauce, lettuce and pickles on a pretzel bun with a cross drawn on the top. It’s not some ridiculously over-stuffed burger that falls apart the minute you look at it, but a well-made little darling that holds together until the last bite.

It’s got the Einstein touch, that one.

Emmy Squared Pizza

Food: Detroit-style pies, sandwiches and salads

Service: good

Setting: nice makeover of former Shed space

Best dishes: Shed pizza, wedge with Nashville hot chicken, Brussels sprouts salad, Le Big Matt burger

Vegetarian selections: garlic sticks, fried green tomatoes, eggplant Parm, Brussels sprouts and kale salads, numerous pizzas (including build your own)

Alcohol: Full bar. Try the Out of Fashion and the Negroni.

Price range: $$

COVID safety: Staff consistently wore masks. Room was not crowded on weeknights.

Credit cards: all major credit cards accepted

Hours: 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; noon-10 p.m. Fridays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays

Children: yes

Parking: free parking in lot and on street

MARTA station: King Memorial

Reservations: yes

Wheelchair access: yes

Noise level: low

Patio: yes

Takeout: yes

Address, phone: 475 Bill Kennedy Way SE, Atlanta; 470-610-0100

Website: emmysquaredpizza.com

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