Award-winning Southeast L.A. pizzeria serves up a fusion of Lebanese-Mexican cultures

MAYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Big Al's Pizzeria in the city of Maywood is literally a marriage between Middle Eastern and Mexican cultures.

"My parents are Lebanese and I met my wife about 17 years ago and I learned how to speak Spanish to get along," said Ali Chahine, founder and CEO of Big Al's Pizzeria.

His wife and co-founder of the pizzeria, Brenda Torres, is from Sinaloa, Mexico. The two developed a unique menu featuring culturally-inspired pizzas that draw foodies from throughout L.A. and Orange counties.

"We get about half our business coming from about 15 miles away. So people are really making out the drive to come out and see what we're about. We got a recognition on Yelp's Top 100 places to eat in the U.S. in 2015, and then we got it again in 2018. Every year we win some kind of award. We've been around for five years," said Chahine.

A big hit with the locals is the taco-esque Carne Asada Pizza, made with skirt steak, cheese, cilantro, red onion, lime, radishes and Big Al's hot sauce.

"When you're eating the pizza you kind of feel like you're eating a taco and you get confused, 'What is it a pizza, a taco?' You get the best of both worlds," said Chahine.

Torres added, "We want to create new pizzas, different but without forgetting to include a touch of Mexican."

"We got a lot of Latinos and Central Americans here in Maywood. Then Bell's right next door and we got a lot of Muslim community, cause we cater the Halal meat to everyone," said Chahine. "Halal is kind of like Kosher meat but for the Muslim people. So it has to be done in a humane way, and it has to be vegetarian fed all the meat and chicken, no hormones, no antibiotics and it's more a healthy meat."

Another favorite is the Lebanese Garlic Chicken Pizza, which is a play on Chicken Shawarma with garlic sauce, chicken, and pickled turnips.

Big Al's has also gained notice for their award-winning wings, but it's the unique pizzas that remain the business' heart and soul, something this family business has plenty of.
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