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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Big Deal Pizzeria, Monroe Ave.

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-.

16 comments:

  1. I loved it! Couldn't disagree more!!

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  2. I couldn't disagree more!! Their pizza is fantastic, and you should try their buffalo chicken subs - and GARBAGE PLATES!!! I think it is a "Big Deal"! I plan on stopping frequently - and my boyfriend likes it better than Tahoes...

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  3. Thanks for the comments. It's always good to hear somebody else's point of view.
    I don't doubt that you like the pizza at Big Deal, but I'm curious to know what you find "fantastic" about it. Not trying to be funny, just wondering what you like about it that I clearly did not.

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  4. I agree that it was really bland and disappointing. I was expecting a nice thin crust, NY style pizza, but instead got an undercooked, tasteless pie that not even hot sauce could save. Their wings were also small and dry. I haven't tried there other items yet, but don't think I will.

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  5. I stopped in for lunch today. The pizza was good, but nothing that makes me say you have to run right out and buy it. It was fresh with lots of cheese. Worth three bucks if you're in the area but I wouldn't drive across town to get it.

    I work in the area and I'll be back weekly.

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  6. I don't like to pass judgment on a place right after it's opened, but it's good to let people know what they might expect if they're curious about it. So far, I agree, decent quantity for the money, but that's about it. Hopefully things improve. Monroe Ave. could use a really good, NYC-style slice joint.

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  7. For what the Big Deal is, which is a bar area big slice joint it is terrific. Yes it is greasy cheesy thick ROC pizza bar district pizza.(I've tried it sober too!) It is much better than most of the local competition (Rookies, Marks, Salvatores, Piatzas, Chester Cab non stuffed pizza). It gets hurt by having ACME right next door which has great pizza (but overrated since the Monroe crowd says best in ROC). Thanks for the blog, I used your knowledge to get a couple pies from highly ranked Joes in Henrietta for my buddies and it was worth the trip.

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  8. I can't seriously argue with any of that.

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  9. Big Deal has pleasant atmosphere, clean, and good food. I did not stop when it first opened, but I have been there several times recently and will continue to eat there. I love their pizza, and their subs are really good too. I will try more menu items, but like it better than any other pizza place on Monroe!

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  10. I do think their pizza is fantastic! It's cheesy, not greasy, and has plenty of toppings. It is also reasonably priced. I think the people that work there (specially the guys!) are friendly and make the trip worthwhile as well!

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  11. Of all the places I've reviewed, I think this has generated the most comments. Clearly Big Deal has some fans. And clearly people differ about what makes a great pizza. That's one reason I welcome comments, just to get a different perspective. Thanks for your input.

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  12. Greetings from a regular patron. To keep it sinple, Excellent food, Excellent prices, and phenominal service. They always say my name when I walk in the door. Great Kids and Mother and Father. I hope they continue to prosper. My deepest condolences again toward Kevin, ( previous owner), who passed on.
    i wish nothing but the best for this business.

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  13. I really love how this guy claims to be such a pizza expert... May i ask how he came to be so "knowledgeable?"

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  14. If you can find anywhere on this blog where I've ever claimed to be a pizza expert, I'll buy you a pizza from any shop in town.

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  15. I agree. I wasn't that impressed. Cam's is better- if you're limited to this area.

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  16. As a transplant from NYC I searched and searched for a real slice of pizza in Rochester. Everyone needs to remember that a "NYC style" slice in NYC comes in many different levels of taste, quality, and texture. Based on my favorites, Vanderbilt Pizza near Grand Central and Crispy Pizza at 17th and 7th, Big Deal is the best. Pizza is important to me. When Crispy Pizza's first pizza maker left NY and took a job making pizza in Birmingham MI I had to visit just for one of his perfect slices.

    All this background is to say that for my taste, Big Slice is the best in the area with good size, value, texture, taste, etc. I hate the Little Caesars moved just a block away and has a street clown reeling in customers. I wish the fun folk at Big Deal a long successful time here.

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