Chef/proprietor Luciano Del Signore and specialties from Biga.
Photo: Laurie Tennent
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Although its name draws attention to pizza, one of the most popular foods around the globe, Pizzeria Biga is more than a pizza joint. The restaurant name, however, revolves around the term biga.
Biga is a simple pre-ferment used in Italian baking. It makes a Napoletana-style (Naples pizza) different from all other pizzas. Using no commercial yeast, biga techniques were developed as pizzaioli (pizza makers) no longer used sourdough for a crust, yet needed to recover flavor that sourdough offered. When baked in a 900-degree oven, biga makes a slightly charred crust that's chewy, flavorful and healthy.
For even baking, one pizzaiolo controls an oven manufactured in Naples, Italy by Stefano Ferrana. Others shape the dough that's been fermenting a minimum of three days and add toppings to six-slice pizzas that are either white (no tomato sauce) or red (with tomato sauce) ranging from $9.50 to $14.50, depending on toppings.
Although there's a list of pizza toppings, resist the temptation to create your own. The list of 22 different pizzas has been taste tested since opening July 1, 2010. They taste best with the dough and when topped with oven-roasted vegetables hold up best on the thin crust. The suggestions are outstanding combinations that do not over-top.
Chef/proprietor Luciano Del Signore's favorite is Margherita "without basil because we use high quality imported Italian buffalo mozzarella as a topping. With basil, you can't taste the cheese." Take the suggestion! It's really good. Other diner favorites with house blend mozzarella are Asparagus topped with grana and speck (cold smoke-cured boned prosciutto); Fingerling Potato with gorgonzola, artichoke and rosemary; Bacco Sausage has house made sausage, roasted onion and hot peppers; Capicolla (cured pork) has hot peppers and olives.Farm to fork
Although ovens and Prosciutto di Parma are imported from Italy, most ingredients are Michigan made – even the oven wood source. "I'm a Michigan native and I live in Michigan," says Del Signore. "My restaurants are in Michigan and that's how I make my living. My kids go to school in Michigan. I support Michigan farmers and as many local products as possible."More than pizza
Italian Cheeses and Artisan Meats (without nitrates) make delicious starters. Choice of any two is $6.55 and three $8.95. Sampler plates are $14. Favorite selections are Aged Provolone, Ricotta Salata, Piave, house made Salamini, housemade Duck Breast Prosciutto and Capicolla. With bread (similar to ciabatta) made from biga dough, cheese and artisan charcuterie take on distinctive flavors....continued on page 2