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Posted on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Popular pizzeria to open in Arbor Hills Crossing on Washtenaw Avenue

By Lizzy Alfs

Related story: Cafe Zola owners opening new restaurant on Washtenaw Avenue

Luciano Del Signore plans to bring his passion for fresh and light Italian food to Ann Arbor this year when he opens a restaurant on Washtenaw Avenue.

Del Signore, a distinguished Metro Detroit chef, signed a lease to open a Pizzeria Biga location at the under construction Arbor Hills Crossing shopping center.


Chef Luciano Del Signore plans to open a Pizzeria Biga location in Ann Arbor.

Photo from Pizzeria Biga blog

“We thought that the Ann Arbor market would be a great place to show our products because Ann Arbor has very food conscious people,” he said.

As the chef behind Southfield’s Bacco Ristorante, Del Signore has gained regional acclaim after several nominations from the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region. The Detroit Free Press also recently named Bacco Ristorante its “Restaurant of the Year.”

Del Signore’s Pizzeria Biga restaurants — with existing locations in Southfield and Royal Oak — use all-natural pizza dough and wood-fired ovens that bake at 900 degrees. Del Signore makes the sauces and many other products in-house.

“We’re purists when it comes to food,” he said.

The Pizzeria Biga menu includes Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas, small plates, wood-roasted entrees like chicken and salmon, pastas, soups, and salad.

Del Signore said pizzas range in price from about $9 to $14. To staff the 4,100-square-foot Ann Arbor restaurant, Del Signore will hire 35 to 40 employees.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Pizzeria Biga is something I developed with the thought in mind that we would be able to pop up several of them and keep them all in Michigan in different neighborhoods.”


A portion of the under construction Arbor Hills Crossing center, pictured late last year.

Joseph Tobianski |

Pizzeria Biga will join Cafe Zola — a downtown Ann Arbor European-inspired cafe — at Arbor Hills Crossing when the entire shopping center opens on Aug. 22.

The 100,000-square-foot development broke ground in June and will bring restaurants, retail stores and office space to the Washtenaw corridor. Max Reiswerg of Illinois-based North Shore Properties Group, the company handling leasing at Arbor Hills, said there will be one other restaurant joining Cafe Zola and Pizzeria Biga, but he’s still in lease negotiations with that tenant.

“Restaurants are really a big deal to us,” he said. “We’ve had the opportunity to do all the chains, and we elected, since our center is very special and unique, to try and go with local chefs or regional restaurants.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Bryan Ellinger

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

Can anyone make a first-hand comparison between Biga's and Mani's pizzas? Mani's are delicious.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

HI Bryan- I would say they are reasonably similar as I actually used Mani as a comparison to Biga's pizza today.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

Actually, I would say that Mani and Biga are peers in terms of their pizza. I do prefer Biga to Mani but it is mainly because I prefer Biga's sauce to Mani's, but only slightly.

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Pizzeria Biga makes fabulous food, and even includes vegan options so stellar that there's no sense of loss in eating something without meat or dairy; there's also more than just pizza. The pies aren't burnt, they're charred in a few places - there's a difference. These are far superior to just the average, everyday notion of "pizza." I'm thrilled to have Biga coming to town, and also for Luciano's fabulous week of winning Restaurant of the Year as well as another acknowledgement from the Beard Awards ... :)

Andy T

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

I've been to the Southfield on...tasty pizza. Bring it on!


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

America's Food choice = PIZZA. Gee, why are we so fat and unhealthy? Beats me.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

Pizzeria Biga in Southfield has some of the best Pizza in the entire Midwest and I have drive to Southfield a few times just to eat at both Bacco and Biga! This is a good addition to the new development. Arbor Hills Crossing is starting to sound like a very nice shopping center. We're looking forward to it! Just a bit of trivia: Hugh Jackman used to frequent Bacco when he was living briefly in the area.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Bacco is outstanding.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

This is great news for our neighborhood. Local restaurants rather than Tim Hortons planned for the corner at Huron Parkway. Campus properties said at their community meeting a few years ago they would look for unique regional tenants and I like these announcements. I hope the restaurants stay open late enough that we can enjoy a good meal after working out at the Rec Center next door. This fits in nicely with the regional Hillers and their emphasis on healthy eating and Michigan products. The pizza must be like NeoPapalis, the restaurant that recently opened downtown under Zaragon West. Love that place. They even have a cheese-less pizza for vegans. The pizza's cooked in a very hot oven and is finished cooking in a couple minutes. The dough is very light and the pizza is delicious. Not at all like any other pizza vendors.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

Pizza will lose out to the inevitably horrid parking situation at that poorly planned development.

Chuck Saltpeter

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

I plan on walking too. Stoked.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Take the bus, ride a bike, jog.........


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Maybe not - there are about 10,000 residents within 1 mile walking distance - and I'm one of the lucky ones that only live a quarter mile away. Yippeee!


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

I've been to the Biga in Southfield a bunch of times - I'd do so more if it were more convenient drive-time wise. That Pizzeria Biga is opening up a location in A2 is terrific! I get a chuckle over some of the comments here about 900 deg. burnt pizza, or too many pizza joints - knowing full well that Pizzeria Biga is by far, leaps and bounds above what could merely be called a pizza shop - the only other pizza joint making these kind of pizzas is Cellar 849 in downtown Plymouth. Once you've had one, it really resets your pizza-meter. It's a specific pizza style, sure, but it's done right if you're a fan of that kind of pizza. Naysayers, you'll see. That said, I'm really looking forward to their wood fired smoked wings special, best wings I've had. This is great news, A2 people!


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

Try Neo Papalis in Zaragon West. You'll love it!!!

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

Now this is exciting! Bacco's pies are very similar to New York's Co. ( and Chicago's recently (and lamented) departed Great Lake


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

BIGA is to die for.

Boo Radley

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

I just looked at the menu online for their Southfield location and it looks great. I'm looking forward to them opening.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

Is someone planning on adding a light there? I ask because turning left on to Washtenaw from that area is quite daunting at most times of the day.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

When I looked at the plans (some time ago) , you exit the center onto Platt and there will be a left turn and right turn lane at Washtenaw with a traffic control signal (including moving the pedestrian crossing now located to the west). I think entry is from Washtenaw - I don't recall there being a left trun planned at the light from Washtenwaw to Platt. Exiting onto Washtenaw was only in the east direction. There's supposed to be a significant bus stop in front also. The developer was committed to working with AATA to provide public transit to the shops. (unlike that other shopping center in the area) There's supposed to be a bus stop in front also.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

A traffic signal was planned as part of the development when it was approved. I'll have to check when that will be installed


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Good question. I haven't heard of any traffic changes to an already congested area.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Very exciting. Sounds like the owners of this center are really taking their time and thinking about quality tenants for this area. Will this place have enough parking for all these great new establishments?

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

@Townspeak: You mention a great point about the parking. If the tenants in the center are all strong tenants, I wonder if parking could become an issue. I'll have to ask the developers that question.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

This area has the biggest group of experts than any other area in the country. Experts in everything from how to cook pizza to snow removal to crime fighting to, well, just about everything. Why not wait until the restaurant opens before you bash it. I've had wood fire baked pizza elsewhere and it is definitely different and delicious.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

Who is claiming to be the expert on Ann Arbor experts... is there some sort of experts union or trade association? I need to join immediately.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

The comments sometimes makes for a amusing and entertaining dialog.

Local Yocal

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

It's not that we have a bunch of experts, its just since this came along every has a chance to voice their opinion and then discuss it.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

Ann Arbor is #1 in the world for experts (possibly second only to Professor Irwin Corey) and vibrancy, just ask them.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

This is HUGE news! Have you been to Bacco? Its one of the best restaurants I've ever been to in my life! Whoooooooooo!

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

The pizza I had in Italy was all baked in a wood-fired oven "forno al legno". Even the Chinese restaurant had a superior pie to what I usually get here. I hope he serves a farinata made with chickpea flour. That is a treat.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Is it safe to assume it will serve adult beverages of some sort? The link to the other locations indicates they serve beer and wine at least.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

As a beer drinker I prefer ice cold coke with pizza over beer anyday.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Whats pizza without beer?


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

I have eaten at his Southfield Pizzeria Biga, and it is delicious. Not burnt at all, and better/different than any pizza I have had in Ann Arbor.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Me like pizza.....yum .


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Pizzeria Biga - welcome to Ann Arbor...and best wishes for a successful business here.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

a nice welcome form a hoagie. ;)

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

I believe the pizzas are only cooked in the oven for 90 seconds. I'm sure they aren't burnt or they probably wouldn't get repeat customers :)

Andy T

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

Yup...good traditional pizza is cooked in a blast furnace oven for a very very short time. Just enough time to get a nice crust going but keep the inside chewy and with good bubbles in the dough. The thick pizzas that have become popular in America necessitated the long bake times. Pizza can be nice and light and airy and not leave you feeling like you ate a brick. Check out Tomatoes Apizza in Farmington Hills for some 'Top 25 in the Country' pizza. Awesome stuff. Don't get me wrong, Biga is good too.

Local Yocal

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

Yeah...just don't leave it in to long.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

I've been to the Pizzeria Biga in Southfield multiple times. Portions of the pizza are occassionally burnt, which I hate, but the parts that aren't burnt are delicious.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

This city has more pizza joints per capita than ANY OTHER CITY IN THE opening up another one wise? Not trying to rain on a just seems rather risky around here.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

As someone of Italian descent and whose family once ran a pizza chains, I can only say that you cannot have too many pizza places.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

Same could be said about Asian restaurants. For every one that opens another one closes.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

But there isn't a pizza place on that stretch of Washtenaw between Carpenter and Stadium. I live on Huron Parkway near Washtenaw and the nearest pizza place is Little Caesar's on Packard and Platt. By the way, are you sure Ann Arbor has more than say, Chicago or New York?


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

1. Where do you get your data from? 2. Maybe that means Ann Arborites SUPPORT pizza places. Maybe the fact that there are over 40k students who tend to eat more pizza than most would skew the numbers? 3. Calling Pizzeria Biga a pizza joint is like calling a Rolls Royce dealership another used car lot.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

It is true that there are many pizza places in AA, although you underestimate all other cities in the country. Most pizza in this area is little better than Dominos. There are exceptions and this new one might fall in that category. If it does, it will have plenty of business.

Local Yocal

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

900 degrees = burnt pizza


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

Back in my youth this felt like a small town.

Middle America

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

Merriam-Webster (a real dictionary): "Definition of YOKEL : a naive or gullible inhabitant of a rural area or small town"


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

NeoPappalis does this too ( but not 900'F more in the 800s).

Local Yocal

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

Urban dictionary: a local hick; a townie; hillbilly Also reffered to as local yocals

Middle America

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

It is "yokel" not "yocal". Spelling sure is tough!


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

Or = delicious pizza cooked in about 1/4 the time a normal one takes.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

Cellar 849 in Plymouth cooks their pizza like this - 90 seconds. Awesome pizza!!


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Obviously you are not familiar with cooking.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Local....Yep... burning pizza= success and high reviews

jim s

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

thats one heck of a fire...