Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The not-a-chain pizza joint in Conway

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 10:41 AM

DRESSED WELL:  Strombolis side salad
Been meaning to make it up to Stromboli’s for a while now, ever since they reopened in the shopping center on Salem Road a block off of College. In the restaurant’s last incarnation I enjoyed garlic knots but not much else — because I never made it into the store. Friends just kept plying me with garlic knots. And they were lovely.

I had meant to make it in while they were doing breakfast every day, but they stopped offering breakfast except for on the weekends a few weeks ago. And my schedule hasn’t allowed me to be in Conway AND hungry at the same time for a while.

That changed Friday, when I stopped in for a late lunch on my way up to the Altus Grape Festival. I was ravenous, having settled for a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast some five hours earlier. I needed sustenance.

I saw I could have that in the form of their lunch special — a slice of cheese pizza, a salad and a drink for $5.59. And that just seemed like a no-brainer. I even opted for meatballs for an additional 25 cents. What the heck, right?

It took a few minutes for my order — but let’s be honest, I’d walked in right at the end of lunch rush, probably in a shift change, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt there. And when I did receive something at the table, it was the full deal — iced tea, a garden salad with a Sundried Tomato Pesto Vinaigrette and a nice hefty slice of thin-crust pizza. Well. There ya go.

I started with the salad, with its nice display of leafy greens, sliced mushrooms and tomatoes, cucumbers and garlicky croutons. It was a decent salad in itself. What truly set it apart was the dressing — a bold vinaigrette redolent of basil and with a personality and sassiness. For a vinaigrette, it wasn’t sour and it was barely tart, but it was hearty and matched well with the tomatoes and mushrooms in the salad. It was impossible to put down my fork.

The pizza, on the other hand… actually, I don’t have anything to say bad about the pizza. I liked the sliced meatballs as a topping — they needed to be sliced, considering the thinness of the slice. I was expecting a cracker crust but received a nice buttery flatbread instead, with a lot of spice in the pizza dough itself. There was a nice parmesan-romano flavor to the pizza cheese, and the sauce was light. I dug on it.

  • Kat Robinson
Thing is, I’d sat down right next to the gelato case when I came in, and though I kept promising myself I was going to be good, I fudged a little. I will point out — I didn’t eat any gelato while I was there. But I did pick up a small gelato to go, some Cookies and Cream ($3.19 for the small) that didn’t quite make it to the Morrilton exit. I’m only human. It was lovely and icy in that particular gelato way... aided by bits of cream filling from the cookies.

Funny thing about Stromboli's is, the decor is so together you might automatically assume it's part of a chain. It's not. It's family owned and operated, and it's well put together. We'll see how it stands up to the test of time.

You’ll have to go back down into Conway to get to Stromboli’s. My suggestion, if you’re coming from Little Rock, is to take Dave Ward west to Salem and go north from there — it’ll be on the left after you pass College. It’s open at 10:30 a.m. on the weekdays, and for breakfast on the weekend… I really do need to try that Bananas Foster French Toast. I feel a calling for it. Of course, a stromboli may be in the offering as well. Call (501) 327-3700 or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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