Big Deal Pizzeria & Grill recently opened in the old Sal’s Pizzeria location on Monroe Avenue, just up the street from Mark’s Texas Hots (and a few doors up from Acme Bar & Pizza, which I’ll get to eventually). I used to like Sal’s, which turned out a pretty decent NYC-style pizza, but the service left a lot to be desired, you never knew if they were going to be open, and I always just got kind of a weird vibe there.
According to its sign, Big Deal also claims to be a New York-style pizzeria, but it’s not. It’s another big-slice joint, not one of which, that I’ve tried, produces authentic NY pizza.
On my lunchtime visit, they had cheese, pepperoni and Buffalo chicken pizza slices available. I got a pepperoni slice, which goes for 3 bucks.
This is a heavy slice of pizza. The crust is on the thin side of medium, but not NYC thin. The cheese - all mozzarella from what I can tell - is laid on pretty thickly.
The well-browned underside showed that the pizza had been baked on a screen. It had a certain greasy crunchiness, but otherwise its appearance, flavor and texture were reminiscent of Piatza’s, which is to say, it lacked real crispness, body, or structural integrity. Despite the outer crunchiness, it could not sustain its weight, and had to be folded to prevent it from flopping over. The edge had a bit more character, a little like a breadstick, but overall the dough was not very bready in flavor or texture.
The cheese was the dominant player here. It was thick and chewy. The sauce was there, but virtually unnoticeable on the palate. The pepperoni was basic wide-and-thin.
Overall, this pizza lacked zing. The texture wasn’t there, and it lacked character. Worst of all, it was bland. Pizza shouldn’t be bland.
Big Deal does offer a lot besides pizza. There are hot and cold subs, wraps, sides, salads, wings, burgers and hot dogs. There’s some seating, and although parking can be tough, they either do, or plan to, deliver. And they’re open till 3 a.m. on Thursdays and 4 a.m on Fridays and Saturdays.
Big Deal hasn’t been open long, and I’m not sure what to make of its long-term prospects. It has some competition from Acme, as well as fellow big-slice places Mark’s and Rookies Express.
I won’t presume to give business advice, but speaking solely as a pizza lover, I hope Big Deal changes its approach while it’s young and starts to offer a more authentic NYC-style pizza than just another big, heavy greasy slice. But I guess with a name like Big Deal, they’ve kind of painted themselves into a corner in that regard, and for all I know maybe that’s just what the Monroe Avenue bar-hopping crowd wants. From me, though, Big Deal gets a D.
Pizza Guy note, 11/25/09: since this review was written, I've revisited Big Deal, and given it a B-.