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Pizzeria Biga in Southfield, MI--- add this place to the debate

Rock’n’roll ! Rainsux, thanks for sounding the horn on Bacco’s owner, who started Pizzeria Biga a few weeks ago. This trendy place mostly is for the Country Club set (ref. all the brand new Euro sports sedans at valet), but superb pizza transcends “The Haves” versus “The Have Nots” (assuming a “Have Not” can at least scrape up $13 for a thin crust 12” pizza…). www.pizzeriabiga.com

Anyway, after a 15-20 minute wait for a table in this already bustling, loud space, we were cheerfully seated and got right down to business with a tasty meatball starter, a “signature” saffron risotto rice ball starter (very attractive and good, but not quite as sublime as advertised), and a delicious fresh artichoke gorgonzola chopped salad. Next. Time for a reasonably priced chianti and a pizza.

Their pizza’s dough is quite interesting to my understanding, in that its yeast was wildly harvested and fermented/maintained, rather than coming from a freshly opened industrial package for each new batch. But, here is a slightly different take on biga, and one that may be more reflective of this restaurant’s actual practice than what I stated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biga_%28...

Regardless, my precious pizza had the Margherita red sauce. Simple and not messed up. Also included was excellent fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella. I added lardo (mild paper-thin translucent sheets of pig fat…which surprisingly turned out to be somewhat tough, and thus maybe not the best choice…particularly since duck prosciutto also was on offer), and a mushroom ragu. I might have added pistachios, too, but I was already failing to “keep things simple.”

Yes, this place, and its (supposedly 900F---don’t believe it) wood burning brick oven, deserves to be in the argument for best, even if not most lovable, pizza place in town. It may not win the argument more than 1 in 5 times, given all the Supino’s, Loui’s, Crust, and Tomatoes’A’Pizza die-hards, but it is a very legitimate new contender in that argument. Kudos to Rainsux.

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  1. I have a new place in Plymouth that I want to toss into the mix. He says his family is from Supino and they are trying to be as authentic as possible.

    I want to try this place to...It looks like Detroit is getting better on the Pizza Oven front.

    2457 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

    4 Replies
    1. re: JanPrimus

      .....are you holding out?? What is the name of your "new place"?

      1. re: Quit2Chef

        Hehehe I forgot. I have to get back there.

        1. re: JanPrimus

          Ahem .... AHEM!

          You get an honest job, and a bit more spending money with which to
          indulge your foodie ways ... and you're holding out on us? Reform!
          Please don't become a "ciaohound."

          1. re: rainsux

            Hey I have been cooking my ass of at home keeping up with the garden. I also started to cure 2 different Pancetta's today. One is Aleppo Pepper infused and the other has Szechuan Peppercorns infused into it. Both from a massive 12 pound Berkshire belly I got from Sparrow Meat Market on AA. Will see how they turn out in 3-4 weeks.

            Here is the place... http://www.cellar849.com/pizzeria/

            Not open today....bummer.

    2. ate at biga for the first time at lunch today. the place is completely different from its il posto days. big, open, bright, and airy. very casual. hostess and servers were prompt and warm. three of us had bowls of minestrone (quite good) and split a margherita (red) and a bacco sausage with roasted onions and peppers (white). the red was simple and very good. the white was just as good. just enough sausage and onions/peppers, which allowed the quality crust to shine. add an ice tea and two ice waters and we were out for $29 plus tip. i will go back.

      they also have a very good beer list and an interesting wine list. interesting, they also show you their mark-up over retail prices for beer and wine right on the menu.

      19 Replies
      1. re: xman887

        Today was my first visit to Biga for lunch. Ordered the House Blend white pizza with my choice of toppings - duck proscuitto, anchovies and roasted eggplant. The pizza was terrific - thin crust, crispy and chewy in the appropriate places. The anchovies overwhelmed the toppings, but I've got to take the rap for that. I knew it was risky. The duck prosciutto was very good with just the right amount of fat.
        Great ambiance. Will definitely go back with the family.

        1. re: xman887

          I'll submit an additional (but not greatly dissimilar) data point to xman887 and bellmont's lunch writeups—

          I went to Pizzeria Biga today for lunch and it was very good. I had the “Lunch Special.” For $14+t/t (yes, rather expensive for lunch), I got a Margherita pizza with homemade sausage and a wild mushroom ragu added. Both additions had a quality, nice delicate flavor. While the Margherita pizza sported impressive balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella on it, I must say that they exuded a lot of water, somewhat to the detriment of the star, which is the crust.

          INCLUDED with the pizza, which was too big to finish even had I been served nothing else, were skillfully baked fresh bread, a large BOWL of Bacco-quality minestrone and a drink. That all makes the $14 set price start to sound pretty good.

          But, as I said, it was double the quantity a human should consume in one sitting. Perfect for two people, but I sensed it would have been a bit awkward trying to split a single lunch combo special between two customers. How to handle? I don’t know, but I’m open for suggestions from restaurant insiders.

          1. re: vtombrown

            Well, to be fair, I don't find that to be too expensive if you're the kind of person who doesn't mind doing a bit of reheating at home on a subsequent day. I'm sure a little something might be lost, but I've managed to do pretty well reheating pizza and bread using the oven.

            I'm now pretty fully intrigued by this place. I'm not a big sausage fan at all, but I'd be interested in trying Biga for lunch myself, especially based on the positive reviews I've read *here*, not just in the Detroit dailies.

            Thanks, VTB!

            Added after the fact: I'm very intrigued by the wood-roasted chicken wings, marinated Italian-style with (::drools::) caramelized onions. Has anyone out there tried them yet? They certainly sound magnificent to me!

            1. re: boagman

              Now that you mention it, those wings do sound pretty good! But, no, I've not yet tried them myself.
              I'm with you on leftovers. Though, for some reason, it seems the "fancy" pizzas fare worse, the next day. Pizza Hut tastes little worse the second day than it did the first,

              1. re: vtombrown

                @vtombrown When there's nowhere to go but up (or down)...

                Anyway. For my money the best pizza Biga has going is the roast zucchini. Simply delicious.

                Also, on the prosciutto pizza, you can have them swap in the duck prosciutto. yum.

                1. re: oppsie

                  I really would like to try this Pizza with a few of you guys next Thursday (I hope this is not to controversial of a statement).

                  1. re: JanPrimus

                    JP--- In the event I'm in scope regarding your condition: "a few of you guys," I would ask, lunch or dinner?
                    PS You, personally (and perhaps others), will not like this pizza as well as do you Supino's. But, it would be worth the trip, nevertheless. And, their accompaniments are excellent.

                    1. re: vtombrown

                      That's what I'd like to know: we talking about lunch or dinner, here?

                        1. re: JanPrimus

                          Which Thursday? On Wed, you mentioned "next Thu" ... that seems to be today.
                          Or; are suggesting Nov 11th?

                          1. re: rainsux

                            The 11th...This Thursday would have been today.

                                1. re: JanPrimus

                                  I should be in for this, too. 12/A.K.A. The Usual Time?

                                  And will we be willing to try out the wings as a table? I'm really curious about those...

                                    1. re: JanPrimus

                                      Well, if you guys are going to Biga on the 11th, I'll go to the Plymouth place on the same day, give it a try and report back. I'd love to introduce myself to the group but I have grandson duties that day and can't get clear out there. Bon appetite!

                                      1. re: SonyBob

                                        SonyBob, If, by "the Plymouth place," you mean Cellar 849, please note that they are not open for lunch. And, please don't get takeout. This place needs to be appreciated sitting right near the cook, while sipping a house-made wine, and enjoying a small, simple, rustic pizza made with "old country" pride. We need more places like Cellar 849 (here again, though, JanPrimus will still prefer the actual pizza of Supino, to 849...for me, however, the Supino exeprience is a bit of a pain in the ***).

                                        2457 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

                                        1. re: vtombrown

                                          Well, crap! If it wasn't for bad luck, well, you know the rest. Thursday's my wife's b-day and we're not wine drinkers but I'll get there soon, for sure. She's a thin crust lover and so far, the only pizza we've found the she likes is at Marro's in Saugatuck.

                                          1. re: SonyBob

                                            Again, I need to miss a chowhound lunch. Boo. :-( I hope to make the next one!!!

        2. Well I met a couple of good friends up at Biga today for lunch. We could of handled a few more people.

          We gnawed on some Wood Roasted Chicken wings that had a pretty good taste to them, you could tell they were wood roasted and that was a good thing. In hind sight...the caramelized onions that came with them were unneeded.

          We all got different Pizza's and I wolfed down all 6 slices given to me. Only two Pizza bones lay on the plate when I was finished. My two lightweight friends opted to see if their remaining Pizza held up to carryout standards. I doubt they would. This to me is pizza that needs to be eaten as soon as it comes out of the Microwa.... er Wood Burning Stove. Oh yeah the 900 degree Stove....that just makes the crust delightful as it can be....at Microwave Speeds even!

          Friend #1 got some Duck Prosciutto added on to his pie that he promptly shared with Friend #2 and myself. A big thank you again Friend #1. We also decided to take a bit of a progressive and provocative stance and did a little ole swapping of our loved ones. Friend number two shared his Pepperoni and Roasted Red Tomato pie with us. I shared my Bocca Sausage Pizza with both and Friend #1 took his Roasted Zucchini slices (With the Duck Prosciutto) and offered them around the table. I believe it ended up being a Ménage à trois Pizza Party (the phrase literally translates as "household of three".)

          I liked all three pies and would go back gladly. I still think I like Supino's (My personal Fav) by a edge. I think the Roasted Garlic missing from the menu at Biga is a huge part of this issue for me. The Roasted Garlic on the Smokey at Supino's is the one thing that drives me absolutely crazy with taste bud bliss.

          2457 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207

          1. went to motor city brewing works yesterday. four of us had beers and shared two pizzas. the pizzas are about the size of a large dinner plate. hand tossed with a medium thick crust. we had a sopla fuego which had some nice heat (habanero sauce and jalapenos) and a build your own with tomoto sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, and chorizo. they were pretty good. and the beers (porter, pale ale, nut brown) were good, too.



            1 Reply
            1. re: xman887

              Hi xman887, I've been to MCB numerous times (years ago). I always liked the beer and atmosphere, but have never tried the pizza. Sounds like I better get over there.

            2. Another pizza place for the debate:

              Fresco Wood Oven Pizzeria
              1218 Walton Blvd
              Rochester Hills, MI 48307
              (248) 841-1606

              Very very similar menu to the Cellar 849 in Plymouth, but IMO, much better pizza. High quality ingredients, flavorful crust, excellent mild San Marzano tomato sauce. My only complaint is that their prosciutto should be shaved or more thinly-sliced; they currently rough chop it, which makes it taste more like ham.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jjspw

                Hi jjspw,
                This place must be new!? (not that I live in Rochester, but I do keep my ear open for pizza places in Oakland and Macomb counties.) Shame on Sir Boagman for not having earlier found and informed me of this place which is only a few minutes from his gym.

                Thanks, I'll check it out next week. If you get time, please start a new topic regarding what you know about Fresco's story. Cheers. :-)

                PS--I'm assuming that, like Tomatoes Apizza, Fresco doesn't have a liquor license...this can be a problem, since their kind of pizza presumably would degrade by the time I transported it to a place where I can drink wine/beer without getting arrested. Sad. Guess I'll have to risk getting arrested...

                Tomatoes Apizza
                29275 14 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI

                1. re: vtombrown

                  LOL! Sorry I didn't see your response here sooner... from your other thread, it seems you beat me to the punch! :-)

              2. went to Pizzeria Biga tonight after reading the postings. It was excellent. Sat at the bar and had a few glasses of wine with a sausage, onion and roasted eggplant pie, very delicious. Thin crust with just a little charring around the edges.

                8 Replies
                1. re: thinkshift

                  I finally tried this Saturday night, sat at the bar.
                  Has a glass of wine -would recommend the double carafe, as the single carafe is pretty small.
                  Had a pizza with the salumi, sausage, and roasted peppers. Also had the garden salad, which I enjoyed.
                  Was planning on taking half the pie home because I've been dieting, but there was nothing to take home - thoroughly enjoyable!

                  1. re: Markcron

                    Weren't those roasted peppers just remarkable? I had those and pepperoni on the pizza I ordered, and much to my surprise, those roasted peppers were by *far* the better of the two toppings.

                    The lunch special on weekdays is really quite the deal, IMHO. I'll be going back for sure.

                    1. re: boagman

                      Ok. I'm going in. Do they have French Onion Soup?

                      1. re: goatgolfer

                        That may be the oddest or coolest idea for a pizza topping ever!

                      2. re: boagman

                        So I went back Monday night, and tried something a bit different: I didn't have pizza at all.

                        Instead, I went with the wood-roasted salmon entree ($13 or $14, I believe), which included some wood-roasted sweet potatoes, some wood-roasted broccoli, and some wood-roasted asparagus spears, drizzled with some balsamic. The salmon was cooked perfectly, and had a very good flavor...I'm not even certain if there was any glaze on the fish itself or not. I was honestly a bit worried that it might be overcooked, knowing how hot those ovens can be, and how quickly they heat things up. The fish itself was great.

                        Those veggies, though, were pretty dry. Not completely dead, but certainly less-than-their-best dry. The whole plate needed something literally *wetter* to help it along and clease the palate a bit. I asked about getting some roasted red peppers on the side (extra charge of $1), and they were most welcome. In fact, I should think that they'd add them and delete something else, or change one of the other veggies to include something like this, or roasted tomatoes, or something that just plain has some life juice left in it. I made mention of it to one of the employees, who said he'd pass it on.

                        Since I had some cash left on the Oy certificate, I opted to try out their gelato for dessert, with the dairy sourced locally from Guernsey. One scoop for $2.50, two scoops for $4.75, and three scoops for $6, and so I opted for two scoops: one of chocolate, and one of pistachio.

                        Now, I have *no idea* how good the ice cream at Shatila is, but if it's anywhere in this ballpark, folks, you're not going to be disappointed. The scoops themselves are what I would consider to be very generous portions, and are served with a pizzelle on the side of the bowl...think "deconstucted ice cream cone, only made with gelato".

                        And not just any gelato: *good* gelato. It's been quite some time since I've enjoyed gelato, and I enjoyed this stuff quite a bit. Plus, the pizzelle was fantastic...so fantastic, that I had to ask for another. It was an extra buck, but it was still covered by my certificate, and even if it wasn't, it was worth it. Both flavors were good on their own (the slight nod will go to the chocolate for me), but they worked quite well in conjunction with each other, and on the pizzelle together (or separately) as well. I ate all of it, and was polite enough to not lick the bowl. Next time I might just get one flavor, but I don't know...for under $5 (under $6 with the extra pizzelle), I was im-stinking-pressed.

                        My entire bill was again taken care of by the Oy amount, and my server was tipped at $4, too. He's done a good job, including bringing me extra bread, which I liked.

                        It's a popular place, even (or perhaps especially) on Mondays, when pizzas are all half off from 4-7PM or so, give or take half an hour. I couldn't do the half-off deal along with the certificate, and besides...I wanted to try that salmon. They really need to change the go-withs on that dish, or just not roast them that far past. They got the fish right, which is the most important thing, and they *nailed* the gelato. Guernsey products really do make a difference, I think. Quality, and all that.

                        Looking forward to my next excursion here. They're still doing it right.

                        1. re: boagman

                          Nice writeup, boagman.

                          For those that haven't been in awhile, they have updated their menu quite a bit. New pizzas, etc. That said...I think pizza quality has been suffering. While it's still delicious, the last few times I have gone the pie has been soggier than I remember it being when they first opened. They're also overloading the roast vegetable (formerly roast zucchini) pizza with toppings (or maybe it's just too many tomatoes), at least for my taste, and especially when we're talking about a less crisp pie that is harder to control when weighted down with heavy toppings.

                          Won't really keep me from continuing to go there, however. Especially with the killer Monday deal.

                          1. re: boagman

                            I have one more Oy certificate that expires next week. This was a great reminder, and I'll plan on using it tomorrow either for lunch or dinner, before flying off to Tokyo for a short culinary adventure.
                            I'm going to try something other then pizza this trip, if I can.

                            1. re: Markcron

                              Remember, MC, that it can only be used Monday through Thursday.