Monday, July 9, 2012
Pizzeria Biga opened its second location in April, in Royal Oak (a suburb of Detroit, for my non-Michigan friends); so my BFF Wendy and I made a point of stopping by while we were in the area recently, as this was on the extended Fairy Mary's Food Fantasies "to do" list.
Now, I know you're asking, "Why is a pizza place 40 minutes away from Ann Arbor so important ...?" Well, let me tell you: because Pizzeria Biga is not just any ol' pizza joint. Chef and owner Luciano Del Signore was a 2012 semi-finalist for the coveted James Beard Foundation's award for Best Chef: Great Lakes due to the exceptional cuisine he offers at Bacco Ristorante. Needless to say, then, that if he is the creative force behind even a seemingly simple pizzeria, it's gotta be one fantastic pizzeria!
The restaurant is chic and sophisticated, yet simultaneously warm and unpretentious; it's the sort of place that is at once trendy and hip while being welcoming and comfortable. You could feel free to loiter over pizza, dessert, coffee, and drinks for an entire evening without feeling as though you were imposing. Although the dining room was bright and airy, we asked to sit outside because the weather was absolutely stellar on the evening we visited; this let us watch the sun set over the patio as the city lit up and its night owls started to come to life in a flurry of activity.
"Biga," as the menu explains, "is the natural fermentation in our pizza dough" which offers the "distinctive tang of a sourdough." All of the other ingredients used by Pizzeria Biga are as well chosen and integral to the final product, whether locally sourced or imported from Italy.
Because Wendy has been eating a vegan diet in order to remedy some screwy bloodwork results, we were tickled to see that we would not need to place any special orders and she would not need to compromise (as she's willing to do for special events) her dietary needs. The Aglio e Olio [AHL-yoh eh OHL-yoh] pizza - featuring garlic and oil, respectively, in the pizza's title, as well as roasted tomato, asparagus, olives, and artichoke hearts - was vegan.
And it was fabulous!
I'm sorry that the picture doesn't do the pizza justice, but there were no candles on the tables and no festive hanging lights where Wendy and I sat; therefore, I could show a photo that's nearly black or a photo with artificial light. 'Tis better to see with a flash than not to see at all.
But the pizza ... back to the pizza!
The crust was crisp and chewy, and also slightly charred - this is not the result of its being burnt by inattentive staff, but is the result of being baked in a 900-degree wood-burning oven. Rather than this being a mistake, it is indicative of the pizza being authentically "Neapolitano" [nay-ah-pohl-ee-TAH-noh].
Although a simple mix of vegetables topped our pizza and there was no cheese, there was truly an astounding array of flavors. Each item had been portioned into 1" pieces, rather than huge slices of tomato or chunks of artichoke. Thus, each bite brought several tastes, as different ingredients shone through and complemented and enhanced each other. And remarkably, given the pedigree of both the chef and the ingredients, our 12" pizza cost only $8.50 - had we been eating in Ann Arbor, it would have been a Frugal Floozie Friday feature!
Pizzeria Biga's menu offers a variety of choices, from small plate appetizers and pastas to pizzas featuring anything from baby clams to smoked salmon, tuna and capers, even duck prosciutto. Toppings available for those who want to create their own masterpiece range from the usual suspects to mushroom ragu and roasted zucchini to fried hot peppers and walnuts.
Before our road trip back home, we found our way to the restrooms - one single-person room for each gender. Rather than waiting in line, since no men were to be found (as per usual!), I used the men's room. And because it was so entertaining to see the wall decorated with a collage of Farrah Fawcett's famous swimsuit photo from the 70s, I simply had to take a picture. (Wendy told me that Burt Reynolds was showcased in the ladies' room.)
Having already come from an event, Wendy and I couldn't even finish our pizza (which made a fantastic breakfast the next morning), so we weren't hungry for the luscious gelato, cannoli, or tiramisu. Gee, I guess we'll just have to go back sometime, huh?
711 S. Main Street
Royal Oak, MI 48067
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