The first time I walked past Big Boyz Pizza about a year ago, I jumped at the sight of Chicago-style deep dish pizza on the menu. While studying and working in the neighboring state of Missouri, there were ample opportunities to visit the Windy City and sample its signature pie.
Unfortunately, the owner, who received his training in San Francisco, told me that you had to order the pizza six hours in advance. As someone who makes spur-of-the-moment gastronomic decisions, I left dejected and never came back.
A year later, still craving the pizza, I decided to plan out a visit with a friend — and was delighted to find that the six-hour wait had been shortened to one hour. Now eating here is much more feasible — but I try to space out my visits, as it is heavy stuff even for American food.
Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times
The menu is simple, featuring Chicago and New York style pies — two of the most contrasting American twists on the Italian dish (we’ll leave novelties such as chocolate-and-marshmallow pizza out of the conversation here).
The appetizers are exclusively deep fried — chicken nuggets (NT$89), calamari rings (NT$99) and so on.
The more common New York pizza employs a thin, hand-tossed crust with a light layer of marinara sauce topped with mozzarella cheese. The crust is pliable, and the slices are often folded in half while eating.
Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times
The Chicago variety is closer to literally being a pie — the crust is about 5cm deep but not too thick. The toppings are reversed — you have the vegetables and meat first, then the mozzarella, then the marinara sauce topped with Parmesan cheese.
Don’t balk at the price for an 8-inch Chicago pie (between NT$669 and NT$799). Because of the pie’s thickness, one is enough to feed two, or even three hungry diners. The restaurant asks how many people are coming beforehand and cuts the pizza accordingly.
There’s no other way but to go all out, so we ordered the No 1 Chicago pizza (NT$799), which is stuffed with Italian sausage, bacon, pepperoni, peppers and onions.
Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times
The chicken nuggets came first. Nuggets are hard to review as they never resemble real chicken, but I would have to say Big Boyz’s were rather tender and flavorful.
There’s no fit-all for Chicago pizza, as each shop I’ve visited has varied quite a bit — but as far as general impressions go, Big Boyz is pretty spot-on. The sauce has the right amount of sourness and is not too sweet, though it could be a little chunkier. The cheese, served in a thick, generous layer, is soft yet stretchy, and meshes well with the textures of the variety of meat and vegetables. All of this is balanced out with the crust, which is just crispy enough with bits of cornmeal-like crunch.
Eat it fast, though, or the copious marinara will quickly sog the bottom.
Each bite is a different surprise due to the amount of ingredients — the bacon is more of a thinly sliced “Canadian” variety that resembles ham, but is lean and gives a nice rough texture compared to regular ham. The homemade sausage spiced with cumin is probably the best feature of the meal. Coarsely-ground, you can taste the granules of meat, and the cumin spice complements the savory meat juice perfectly.
For the second pizza, we ordered a New York-style South of the Border pizza (NT$369 for a 12-inch). It was decent — but nowhere as good as the Chicago style. The jalapenos provide a nice, sour kick, but maybe a bit more marinara could be used to balance the flavor. Much of the sweetness is provided by the onions, which made the slice too sweet in some places.
The crust was true New York style — light, aromatic and crispy, but the chorizo was a bit too similar to the Italian in flavor, and less appealing in texture.
Personally, I would stick with the Chicago pizza for this place — even if you just happen to stumble in, the one-hour wait is worth it.
Address: 38, Ln 256, Nanjing E Rd Sec 3, Taipei City
Telephone: (02) 27219797
OPEN:Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30am to 2pm, 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Average meal: NT$300 to NT$800
Details: Menu in Chinese and English, credit cards accepted
On the net: www.facebook.com/
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