Big Al's Pizzeria
Big Al's Pizzeria

Big Al’s Pizzeria Owner Michael Chahine displays two of the restaurant’s distinct menu offerings.  Though the entire menu is Halal, Chahine encourages any customer to give the eatery a try.  “Our food is for anyone who wants to try pizza or wings that aren’t mainstream,” he says.  “We offer something that’s untraditional and outside of the box, but delicious.”

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Big Al’s Pizzeria

From the creators of the iconic Maywood, California-based Big Al’s Pizzeria comes the restaurant’s second location, which officially opened to Old Towne customers in December.

Big Al’s Pizzeria, founded and operated by brothers Ali and Michael Chahine, serves pizza, wings and sandwiches that are all Halal certified, meaning the meat follows Islamic dietary laws.

Before becoming a founder in the restaurant industry, Ali owned a wholesale clothing business.  As an entrepreneur and food lover, he decided to take the plunge and opened a meat market.

“The market was successful, but our friend owned a pizzeria for more than 20 years and planted the seed of an idea that we could create our original pizza shop,” says Michael.  “We put a pizza oven in the meat market, and it started growing from there.”

Ali and Michael trained with their friend and spent three months developing and testing their own recipes.  The menu was motivated by various international flavors, with a mix of Lebanese, Asian and Mexican-focused pizzas.

“Our menu draws inspiration from our travels, experiences and nationality overall,” says Michael.  “Our Lebanese mom was always cooking for us growing up, and we took inspiration from her, too.”

Customers can choose from options like the carne asada pizza or the beef brisket sub or select a half-and-half style pizza to sample two of Big Al’s signature pizzas.  The most popular item is the Lebanese garlic chicken pizza, topped with a homemade garlic sauce, shredded chicken breast and buttermilk ranch.

“We call it a deconstructed version of a Lebanese chicken shawarma sandwich, and I had no idea it was going to be such a hit,” says Michael.  “This pizza superseded my expectations.”

The rest of their menu turned out to be a hit too, and in 2015, Yelp crowned Big Al’s Pizzeria on its list of Top 100 U.S. Places to Eat.  Michael says he and his brother never imagined their food would be so well-known and loved.

“We’re self-taught chefs creating pizza recipes, and suddenly, we have award-winning dishes,” says Michael.  “It made me realize that if you have a passion for something, you can go far.”

After making Yelp’s list again in 2018, the Chahines started considering expanding and opening a new location.  But then the pandemic hit, and they put their plans on hold.

“As soon as we felt everything was picking up again, we hired a real estate agent and found the Old Towne location,” says Ali.  “It was the perfect location, and we already had many existing customers in Orange County.  The community has been so welcoming and great so far.”

Big Al’s Pizzeria
396 West Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866  /  714-363-3663 

Article Published in the
Mar / Apr 23 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Yuki Klotz-Burwell Photo by Kristin Smetona
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