First Pizza Review of 2014: Bigalora

Happy New Year!  Time to start it off right with new pizza!  The other night we tried Bigalora wood-fired pizza.  Bigalora is the newly opened reincarnation of the existing Pizzeria Biga restaurant that I never had the opportunity to try.  Bigalora in Ann Arbor (there are a few others in Southeast Michigan) is situated at the far corner of the upscale Arbor Hills strip mall (apparently “upscale strip mall” is not an oxymoron), which includes some new-to-Ann-Arbor stores such as lululemon, Brooks Brothers, J. Jill, Paper Source, Sur la table, North Face and Blue Mercury.

The restaurant interior was wide-open with a lofted second floor towards the back creating a two-story ceiling over the main dining room.  Despite its exposed duct work and huge glass front wall, it was surprisingly cozy, anchored by a slate-colored wrap-around bar behind which was a towering wall of spirits.  There’s a sliding ladder for the bartenders to climb to reach the upper shelves – love that this is reminding me of an English manor’s mahogany library only done in metals and glass!  Those throw-back, exposed-bulb pendants generated an orangey glow over the bar and cream fabric-covered, doughnut chandeliers above the dining area created a soft, warm atmosphere.  The culminating touch was a lounge area in the front of the restaurant that was both rustic and modern: circular, hammered-copper coffee table, tree stump side tables, and then to throw some chic into the country-living vibe, lucite  (or just regular clear plastic?) high-backed arm chairs in the style that you might expect of a tufted leather reading chair (again perhaps in an English manor’s library), only much less comfortable.  And everything sitting atop (or in the case of the chairs, floating atop) a large calf-skin rug.  It was a welcoming arrangement that made me really want to take a seat and drink an Old Fashioned by candlelight.  I would definitely return to dine in.

As it stood, we had ordered carry-out, and probably just as well because the place was packed.  I got a simple margherita pizza; Mark got wood-fired chicken wings and a pepperoni pizza.  Everything smelled delicious in the car ride home, and I was childishly excited about the red plastic pizza cutter they included with our order (which turned out to be necessary since they don’t pre-slice the pizzas…it was incredibly effective…maybe more so than the metal cutter I have from Target).

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My margherita was light with dollops of fresh mozzarella and whole basil leaves.  The sauce (maybe a bit oversauced in places?) was brightly acidic and slightly sweet but not overwhelmingly so.  Everything meshed very well.  The crust was super soft and chewy with a char around the edges.  I’m not usually over-enthusiastic about an extra chewy crust, however this time it worked as it was quite airy, not dense, and acted as a counterbalance to the super-thin crust sitting underneath the toppings.

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The wings were also a hit: wood-roasted, non-breaded, served with sweet roasted onions – different and delicious!

I didn’t try Mark’s pepperoni pizza (each pizza is definitely one-person-sized), but it looked good and it’s gone so that must say something.

I’m excited to go back to dine in and explore the menu more fully.  Happy eating!

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