Now serving & supporting Chicago's LGBTQ+ community: Big Gay Sal's Pizza in Lakeview

Wed. May 29, 2024 9:11 AM by Ross Forman

salvador mora servin and mike miller

photo credit // provided

'The pizza is very diverse like our community,' says Salvador Mora Servin

The new Big Gay Sal’s Pizza, located in the heart of Lakeview commonly called Boystown, brings the nostalgia and communal essence of a local pizza joint, fueling the late-night, tasty addition to North Halsted Street.

“Growing up in the vibrant pizza culture of New Jersey/New York, pizza was more than just food — it was intertwined with cherished memories of family gatherings, birthday celebrations and youthful escapades with friends,” said co-owner Mike Miller, 38, who lives in the neighborhood. “Recognizing a gap in our neighborhood for an affordable dining spot where the community could gather, share laughter and forge connections, we knew Big Gay Sal’s Pizza could fill that void.”

Opened in March, Big Gay Sal’s Pizza is a 1,200 square-foot restaurant with a large patio for additional seating. The pizzeria is open daily for lunch and dinner, with late-night options on Thursday until 1 a.m., and until 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Big Gay Sal’s Pizza is driven to deliver the perfect slice of pizza and its menu includes classic options such as cheese, pepperoni and sausage. The Boystown newcomer will showcase a variety of specialty pizzas too, such as Mole, Buffalo Chicken, Taco and more.

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza?

Nope, not here, as the Chicago classic “is a culinary art perfected by few,” Miller said.

So far, the most popular pizza has been Sal's Chicken Mole. “Crafted with care, it begins with Sal's mother's delectable mole sauce, generously layered with tender chicken and gooey mozzarella cheese on top,” Miller said.

“We don’t skimp on quality ingredients and put care into every pie. Our patrons also can expect every slice to help the local community, not just during Pride month, but 365 days a year.”

Big Gay Sal’s Pizza carries wings, chicken tenders, pork roll and egg sandwich, and a large assortment of appetizers, including blue cheese chips and more. Plus, there is a full liquor bar with beer on tap.

“Customers will be pleasantly surprised by the eclectic range of specialty pizzas on our menu,” Miller said. “Additionally, our commitment to quality ingredients and the vibrant flavors infused into each dish will exceed expectations, leaving patrons craving more with every visit.”

So who is Sal?

Salvador Mora Servin, 34, who lives near Midway Airport, is a co-owner and the chef. He is originally from Mexico and has lived in Chicago for 24 years.

“I enjoy cooking, entertaining and hosting people. I get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction knowing that I can offer a place for people (to) chat, enjoy good food and feel comfortable,” Servin said. “(I am) a hard-working, enthusiastic individual who has dedicated himself to work and making sure everyone around him is happy and is always willing to help when someone is in need. Sal is always on-the-go, making sure everything is running smoothly in his personal, emotional and social life.”

And yes, all the owners of Big Gay Sal’s Pizza are members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“The pizza is very diverse like our community. We offer many pizza combinations and toppings, (so) everyone can find something to enjoy,” Servin said. “The specialty pizzas come from my love of food and creating something different and unique. A friend once asked me how will you represent your Mexican culture in your business. My answer was, with my Mexican Mole and chicken pizza. Mole is a very traditional, authentic Mexican sauce that is usually served over chicken. Mole is used in celebrations as a delicacy. It takes a very good cook to know how to make mole, in this case my mother Julia Servin.”

Miller’s favorite is the pork roll sandwich.

Big Gay Sal’s Pizza also offers appetizers, such as mozzarella sticks, onion rings and more. There are chicken sandwiches in various forms and Italian beef sandwiches. And salads, too.

Don’t skip the desserts as Big Gay Sal’s Pizza offers carrot cake, dulce de leche cake and a rainbow sprinkle cake.

The cheese fries have drawn rave reviews.

“My admiration for Sal played a pivotal role,” in opening the new restaurant, Miller said. “Witnessing his remarkable qualities and recognizing his potential as our friendship flourished, my partner Phil and I were inspired. It wasn't long before a spark of an idea ignited when Sal casually brought pizzas to parties.

“The name Big Gay Sal’s Pizza comes from Sal’s heart, smile, dimples, and let’s not miss that hair, and our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. We are in one of the most famous LGBTQ+ communities in the world, it’s very easy to lose sight of that as a business, but we won’t.

“The community is extremely important to us, starting with our commitment to ‘serving the community one slice at a time.’ We guarantee that the profit of one slice of every pie sold will go back to local LGBTQ+ nonprofits. This started prior to opening with sponsoring the Santa Speedo Run, (held every December), and I serve as director of the event raising more than $153,000 in 2023. We also plan to work with local sports leagues.”

Miller joined the board in 2019 for the popular, eye-candy-filled December fund-raising run through Lakeview. Miller soon assumed responsibility for the community aspect of the event and established the Ho Ho Host committee. “This initiative led to the inception of our Christmas in July beach event and the Battle of the Leagues,” he said. “Witnessing a significant uptick in participation, with over 200 additional attendees in 2023, reflecting a growth of over 30 percent, has been immensely gratifying. I take pride in contributing to the success of this event and eagerly anticipate its continued expansion in the years to come.

Sal's sponsored and officially announced its opening at the 2023 Speedo event.

Miller said Big Gay Sal’s Pizza is dedicated to fostering inclusivity and celebration within the LGBTQ+ community, particularly during Pride Month in June. “We aim to create a welcoming space at Sal's where everyone feels embraced and valued, ensuring that Pride celebrations are vibrant and memorable for all,” he said. “Patrons can expect to enjoy our food, drinks and patio. We have a lot of surprises planned for these events and look forward to announcing them soon.

“We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to serve our community and extend a warm welcome to all. As a new establishment, we humbly request feedback from our patrons to help us continually enhance and evolve. Your input is invaluable as we embark on this journey of growth and improvement together.”