30-Minute Lunch: Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria in Eagle Rock
Egg Gondola pizza at Big Mama's & Papa's
Place: There are 21 locations of Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria -- and counting -- so the newly renovated (just finished last month) Eagle Rock location on Colorado Blvd. is no mom-and-pop shop.
Vibe: It's a pizzeria updated with elements you'd find at a sports bar -- dark wood and flat panel television screens tuned to the current games. During our visit, it was set to the Lakers game. There is some element of thoughtfulness in setting up double sinks right outside of the restrooms for easy hand-washing, indicative of an accommodating attitude you also find in the menu.
Menu: The menu emphasizes qualities of variety and size, with the Giant Sicilian at 54-inches squared (bears 200 slices) -- claimed as "the largest deliverable pizza in the world" -- as a calling card. If Chipotle's menu is a short story, then the one at Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria is a multi-episodic saga.
If it wasn't already clear at first glance, you'll soon find out that most of the pizza, sandwich and pasta selections are customizable. There is a massive list of options, complete with photos of 24 specialty pizza combinations and 20 mezze styles. For pizzas, there are 79 possible toppings and sauces in total; 29 vegetables and fruits; 16 sauces, such as bourbon and pineapple curry; 14 meats; 12 special toppings, such as basturma (cured beef) and soujouk (dried, spicy sausage); and 8 cheeses. Even the crust has options: depending on the style, it can mean thick or thin, gluten-free, or whole wheat.
We concentrated on the Egg Gondola pizza -- a decidedly more manageable fill-in-the-blank equation in the scaled-down shape of, well, a Venetian rowboat. Filled with mozzarella, feta, butter, and a choice of one to four eggs. Eggs are cooked to medium, which means runny; cooked well or scrambled are options too. You can add toppings -- we went with the suggested combo of bacon and fresh basil. The question of ordering one, two or four eggs is a matter of how many people the pizza needs to serve. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about the choice of crust.
Served with a side of pickled jalapenos, our Egg Gondola pizza ($5.99; a regular one egg with two toppings) made for a hearty lunch. (The egg arrived on the runnier side of medium, but the steam from the pizza helped to cook the egg whites a bit more.) The crust was airy with a substantial, recognizable crunch almost like a baguette, holding its own against a dairy trifecta of cheeses and butter. The addition of chopped bacon and fresh basil was good advice; the first added an element of salt otherwise missing in the crust, while the herb kept the other toppings from tasting overly rich.
Duration: If it's your first visit, you may get overwhelmed by the options. It took about 15 minutes to receive our order.
Prices: Appetizers starting at $2.99 to a plain cheese Giant Sicilian at $199.99.
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