Somewhat Hidden Big Al’s Serves A Cheesy Slice

I don’t know about anyone else, but I didn’t know a Thames St. existed in the Financial District. Sure enough, it does, and on it you’ll find Big Al’s Chicago-Style Pizza (btw. Broadway & Trinity Pl.). Lunch’er Paul had recommended its regular slice so I decided to go check it out on one of those day’s where I couldn’t decide what lunch appealed to me. It’s one of only a couple of businesses on the street that only exists for two blocks. According to its menu, Big Al’s has been around for 30 years and a steady stream of people came in and out while I was there during prime lunch time. The weird thing is, that they don’t really seem to focus on the deep dish pizza that you think of as Chicago-style, although they do list a pie with a “special crisp and fluffy crust.” I guess there’s always Pizzeria Uno at the South Street Seaport for that.

Big Al’s is sort of a subterranean pizza shop, although not quite like The Grotto. It’s fairly sizable by some standards, with plenty of counter and stool space. I’m only an occasional pizza eater, but I still haven’t quite recovered from Mardi Gras Pizza closing on Maiden Lane. It was apparently trying to be the FiDi’s Two Boots with its Cajun twist, but they made a fine slice and also featured Mexican food, which I never tried.

Enough of that walk down memory lane and back to Big Al’s. They already had a cheese pizza hot out of the oven, so I didn’t even have to wait for a reheat. The slice ($2.50) was fairly hefty and greasy, thanks to the liberal application of cheese. It was a regular NY slice, though, without a thick crust.

Let’s start with what I liked about this slice, and that was the crust. It was crispy but held up well to the cheese and grease. About that cheese –  I am generally not a fan of plain pies with a ton of cheese on top, and this one was heavy on it. So, if you are a cheese lover you might want to check this slice out. Also, I could hardly taste the sauce, but it may have been that I wasn’t paying attention.

My new go-to cheese slice remains It’s A Pizza, where I can also get Uzbek specialties if I need a greasy meat-filled pastry to go with my greasy pizza. And when I walked by recently, there was a sign up saying they dropped the price of a cheese slice to $2. This, sadly counts as cheap in the FiDi where we are lacking in a 99 cent pizza place that isn’t Papa John’s.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • They’ve been there for 30 years so they must be doing something right.
  • They don’t skimp on the cheese.
  • I like pretending I’m going to a secret pizza place on a street no one knows exists.

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • What’s up with the Chicago style in the name when there’s no deep dish in sight?
  • Too much cheese, too much grease.
  • I don’t know where the hell Thames St. is and I’m too lazy to look at a map.

Big Al’s Chicago Style Pizza, 9 Thames St., (212) 964-3269 or 3270



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    Been working around the financial district on and off for 30 years. In the early 80′s Big Al’s most certainly served an outstanding deep dish pie. They had regular, but maybe only 2 or 3 kinds. They used to have lots of different deep dish pies by the slice.
    It was a lucky day indeed when you office ordered out and it came from big Al’s

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    This is great! Being that I am relocated to NY next month from Chicago it’s nice to know I will be able to get a little slice of home from time to time.

  • THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH CHEESE. I want to know about the other toppings, though.

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    wow, this place is still here. I remember the long lines during lunch when I worked at Bankers Trust.

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    Glad to see you made it to Big Al’s. The name is definitely misleading, not sure what is up with that. I’m a cheese fiend, so that’s probably why I love these slices. The Buffalo chicken slice is excellent for a hungover friday lunch…

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