Big Joe’s Pizza & Deli
Last Sunday was J’s company Christmas party. We decided she would go by herself for a couple reasons. The big one, we needed someone to watch L. My original plan for the two of us was to get a pizza for dinner from a place downtown…one of the few pizza places I had yet to try. When I got online to order, I noticed Sunday was the one day of the week they were closed.
Fast forward to Monday. I was still sort of in the mood for pizza and after J and I ate lunch at TGIFriday’s, I wasn’t really sure how hungry she really was. Still, I had to run out to FedEx in Portage to pick up a package after sleeping through the doorbell earlier in the day, so before I left, I put in a pizza order figuring if nothing else, I would have left overs.
One of the few pizza places I was yet to try in the Kalamazoo Metro was Big Joe’s Pizza & Deli on the Kalamazoo Mall downtown. For whatever reason, I had visions that this was just some sort of quick take out place that downtown workers would stop in on their lunch break and pick up a few slices. I guess the few times I had walked by, I had never really looked in. As usual, I was wrong.
Big Joe’s is actually a pretty large restaurant with an even larger menu. On top of the pizzas, they have a huge sandwich selection including my typical go to, the Hot Pastrami.
As I was looking for a menu online, I came across Campus Special which has online ordering for Big Joe’s. I asked J if she was in the mood for pizza and she figured she could eat a slice or two so I put in an order for a X-Large with pepperoni on half and plain cheese on the other. Also, since I was planning on leftovers anyway, I ordered myself the aforementioned Hot Pastrami.
When I went to pay, my old credit card was still saved online. I didn’t have my wallet near me so I clicked the option for cash. The order went through and I had an errand to run before heading downtown to pick up my dinner.
Of course, it took me longer than I thought to get to Fed Ex and get the package I needed to sign for. In addition to that, my fuel light came on as I was making the trek down Sprinkle Road to hit the Business Loop, so I stopped at a Marathon to put a little gas in.
As I was pumping, my phone rang, it was Big Joe’s. I apparently made them a little nervous because it had now been a little over 20 minutes since I had ordered and I chose the cash option which means if I don’t show up, they’re out a pizza. I assured the guy I was on my way and I would be there in ten minutes.
The location on The Mall provides a little bit of a problem when picking up a pizza. There is very limited parking on the mall and finding one of those spots open is almost like winning the lottery. I went around the corner and found a space on the street which I carefully parallel parked my big truck then walked back to get food.
As I mentioned earlier, Big Joe’s was not what I was expecting. When you walk in the front door, you actually come in to a large dining room which has sit down service during the busy hours. To get to the pick up window, you have to go all the way through the dining room to the back of the restaurant…or use the side door.
When I walked in, the only employee working asked if I was there for a pizza pick up. I told him I was and that’s when he told me that Campus Special shouldn’t have given me the cash option. He was under the impression that they were signed up to only accept orders with credit cards, so that’s why he was a little worried when I started running late.
The cost for the X-Large pizza and the sandwich was a little over $20. I used my Visa to pay even though I selected cash (I just wanted to pay in the store) and grabbed my box to head home.
Right away, I went for the sandwich. The Hot Pastrami comes on Rye Bread with mustard. For as simple as it is, it’s such a delicious sandwich. A good, hearty portion of meat and just enough mustard to get than vinegary tang. I polished the sandwich off pretty quickly and still had room for pizza.
J popped the pizza box open first and found pepperoni on the whole thing. A couple years ago, that would have been a disaster, but somewhere along the line, J learned to tolerate and maybe even enjoy pepperoni, so she really wasn’t too upset about it.
The pizza was alright, but it didn’t really have any quality that made it stand out. The crust was a pretty typical thicker crust although it did have a hand tossed feel to it. It’s actually the kind of pizza I love to add hot sauce too. It’s a thick slice with a lot of cheese and a lot of sauce…it just needs a little something to make it stick out.
The pizza from Big Joe’s lasted me through a couple of meals. J wasn’t super hungry and I don’t think she was really on board with the pizza anyway. L did her usual damage to a couple of the crusts enjoying every minute of it. I was happy to have a few meals/snacks. Like so many Kalamazoo pizzas, Big Joe’s is good, it’s just not memorable…but then again, everyone thinks I’m really hard on pizza joints. As for the sandwich, that was delicious….and I’m always look for good, quick sandwich places. The option of ordering both a delicious sandwich and a pizza from the same place will bring me back for seconds.