Is there a more subjective cuisine than pizza? First off, there are umpteen different ways to crust (or not crust, depending on dietary restrictions and preferences). Then, there is the multitude of toppings, sauces and crust stuffers. Fold? No fold? Crust first? Crust last? You could practically perpetuate the personalization forever.
In past articles, I’ve lamented slim findings in my own personal search for superb pizza options from local restaurants, although I’ve found a few bright spots. I’m happy to add to that list the offerings from Big Woods — a craft beer, spirits and restaurant outfit that recently expanded its growing Indiana footprint from Brown County origins onto the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette. (Many of Big Woods’ beer and spirits also are ingredients on the food menu.)
Big Woods offers thin-crust options for its pizza, which is generally not my bag. (Again, customization!)
Other options include hand-tossed, a gluten-free cauliflower crust or a calzone conversion. You can build your own Italian pie or go with one of Big Woods’ eight signature creations. For this outing, we split the difference between tradition and trying something a bit different: The thin-crust Gatherer (Big Woods’ vegetable pizza option) and the hand-tossed Smokehouse, which combines pulled pork, smoked chicken, fresh mozzarella, cheddar and barbecue sauce. (The pork and chicken are also available between buns, along with a few burgers, and we’ll definitely be returning to sample that side of the menu.)
With a two-meat foundation, the Smokehouse is definitely enough pizza to stretch out for a couple of meals, even in the smaller 10-inch option. But the pork and chicken are just the right texture to pull duty on pizza and the barbecue sauce counters with just enough sweet zing. And maybe what I’ve been missing on other thin-crust options is the garlic-infused olive oil base that Big Woods uses for the Gatherer, both to keep the generously portioned vegetables in place and to add some flavorful zest and bite. (Pairing smoked gouda with a mozzarella blend is also a nice touch.) Speaking of garlic: Leave room for Big Woods’ breadsticks and, for dessert, bite-sized delights of the Nashville Fried Biscuits (lightly breaded and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar)
Again, the area is somewhat of a local-pizza wilderness for me. So perhaps it was apropos that I found a little bit of what I was looking for at Big Woods
Nick Rogers is Tipmont's Communication Manager. He joined Tipmont REMC in 2021.
Nick has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In a previous life, he covered arts & entertainment and continues to publish film reviews. He loves movies (big shocker!) as well as rooting for the Chicago Cubs and trying new restaurants. He lives in Lafayette with his wife and dog.