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Monday, April 17, 2006

Big John's Pizza Restaurant, Sans Souci

Caesar salad
Caesar salad $10.90
With croutons, eggs, bacon, parmesan and anchovies

Way back in December last year (yep, I'm determined to get through the back archives) we headed to Big John's in San Souci.

The Big John's Story, printed on their inhouse menus, began in 1985 when a small pizza takeaway opened on Bondi Road, Bondi. Initially manned only by Big John himself, its popularity necessitated an expansion of staff and a delivery service. In 1989 a family restaurant was opened in Sans Souci, and in 1996 another Big John's opened in Bondi, this one an eat-in restaurant.

Big Johns

On the night we decided to eat here, the Sydney skies had decided to put on a spectacular nightshow, complete with rain, thunder, lightning and a weather warning of hailstones. As we dashed into this cosy eatery sopping wet and decidedly bedraggled, the smell of freshly-cooked pizza was as comforting as a toasty warm blanket.

Despite the weather, the place was packed. Small groups, large groups, families, friends and couples were crammed around tiny tables. A queue snaked up the staircase but somehow we managed to score a table almost immediately.


The food? Well if value is what you're looking for, then you've come to the right place. The portions are huge, erring on the side of ridiculous. Our Caesar salad would look more appropriate on a buffet table. Put it this way: after eating a quarter of the Caesar salad, I'm almost satiated and ready for the bill.

Fettucine salmone $13.90
Butter, shallots, smoked salmon, herbs, white wine
and cream sauce

I find the pastas rather disappointing. They are generously portioned, yes, but the pasta is stodgy and the sauces are somewhat flavourless.

Tortellini boscaiola $13.90
Butter, shallots, bacon, mushrooms, herbs, white wine
and cream sauce

The pizzas are much better. Thin crispy bases are covered with just enough topping. The J's Special has plenty of meat and the Sophia Loren has big fat chunks of creamy chevre.

J's Special $21.20 (large)
Tomato, cheese, mild salami, pepperoni, cabanossi,
capsicum and mushroom pizza

There are plenty of pizza options available: nineteen on the menu and a number of blackboard specials too.

Veg pizza
Sophia Loren $23.50 (large)
Eggplant, zucchini, olives and goats cheese pizza

Entertainment comes in watching meals arrive at other people's tables. A group of young Asian females do battle with their steaks, which look more like brontosaurus steaks a la The Flintstones. A man attacks a tuna salad with gusto, a mountain of greens that must be 20cm high.

There is also some food perving to be done watching the pizza makers in action, and admiring the cooking of pizzas through the glass-walled prep area.

We end up getting doggie bags for our food. Between the four of us, we probably managed to eat about half our order. The takeaway containers are charged out per box, but hey, my mother always taught us never to waste food.

Big John's Pizza Restaurant
502 Rocky Point Road, Sans Souci, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9583 1088

Monday to Thursday 4.30pm - 1am
Friday to Saturday 4.30pm - 3am
Sunday 12 noon - 1am

Licensed and BYO (wine only)
Corkage $2.50 per person
No credit cards or EFTPOS

Other Big John's locations:
Big John's Pizzas
199 Bondi Road Bondi, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9369 1233

Big John's Kitchen
211 Bondi Road Bondi, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9130 7166
12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 4/17/2006 08:10:00 pm


  • At 4/18/2006 10:15 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    Yeh Big John's is close to where i Live so when we were poor Uni students and wanted to eat out we use to go there all day long. The quality is pretty bad and varies from day to day. Despite it being an Italian restaurant did you notice how all the chefs were asian? ehhehe

  • At 4/18/2006 3:24 pm, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    It's not too bad. You just need to choose carefully.

    Pickles comments are so true! I noticed it for the first time when we were chowing into tapas from Captain Tores many years ago.

  • At 4/20/2006 8:47 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    David says not to knock the pastas until you try the Carbonara.

    It's his favourite and the only thing he ever eats there.

    To be fair, we must try the Carbonara

  • At 10/13/2007 11:40 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe Big John's is too big for its own good. I took my kids to the Sans Souci restaurant for my birthday and not only was the service super-slow, but my meal never came. We were near the entrance, so we also got to hear all the complaints from other would-be diners who had booked tables, but still faced a long wait outside in the street. Luckily I was able to scrounge my my kids' leftovers to eat! Of course all restaurants can stuff up an order - the real test of an establishment is how well they make amends. When I had to ask for the missing meal to be removed from my bill - the staff reacted like they were doing me a big favour! At times like that, a good restaurant will give you your drinks for nix, or throw in a free dessert. A bad place will let you walk away with a bad taste in your mouth - just like Big John's did.

  • At 10/14/2007 11:36 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi InvisibleMan - An unfortunate experience indeed. And bad tastes in the mouth tend to linger for a long time indeed...

  • At 12/16/2007 5:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Since when does fillet steak comes about 25cm in diameter, and tough as the sole of my shoe... Called the waiter if I could get his attention after 30min to comment about the steak ordered, and he just dissed me off... Trying pass something else off a fillet is like the chef playing with your food if you know what I mean... The whole experience of dining there sucked... I do love your blog keepup the great work

  • At 12/24/2007 10:17 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Icepick - I'm guessing Big John likes his steaks big, and a fillet in his dictionary may just mean "without bone" :) Glad you're enjoying the blog too.

  • At 1/01/2008 6:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's really a toss up when you go there. Sometimes the food is excellent but alot of the times you get the slop that has been sitting there all day..

    Servings are huge and very cheap compared to other places one pasta, pizza or even salad serving and you will be stuffed so no need for entreas tho which is a plus but the majority of the wait staff don't speak English and are paid peanuts so don't expect any kind of competent service..

    I would recomened going around 5pm before the rush or midnight if your a night owl.

  • At 1/02/2008 8:44 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi L - The serves are certainly huge. I'm guessing that perhaps their target market is those who want quantity, and lots of it :)

  • At 3/18/2010 1:16 pm, Anonymous Latso said…

    I recokn the serving sizes have reduced (a little) over the last couple of years. Still enough to take a doggy bag home. (dog misses out though, it becomes my lunch)
    The Service is usually shocking, mostly because they are so damned busy.
    I still stand by my carbonara commented alluded to by Ms Salt above. It's heavy, but great Italian comfort food.

  • At 3/18/2010 6:09 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Latso - We haven't been back since but if we do, we'll be sure to try the carbonara! :) And lol, I don't think anyone ever gives their doggy bag to their dog do they?

  • At 5/15/2014 9:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So rude! Worst customer service I've ever encountered.
    Wouldn't recommend the place to anyone.
    You also can't pay with your card unless it's $50 or over. And they conveniently have an atm set up inside the shop.
    I'd never walked out of a restaurant for being treated poorly until tonight


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