Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
When it comes to pizza, I always bring to mind that risque old maxim which compares it to the carnal joy shared by folks in love: even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. In the case of Damgoode Pies, there's no need for a set of beer goggles to make the object of desire more attractive, although the $1 PBR available makes that a cheap and excellent way of doing things. Damgoode is so good because of the sheer number of choices available to the dough, sauce, and cheese-craving masses: a good selection of toppings, three crust styles, and a Little Rock-best choice of nine sauces allow for maximum customization, and with size choices from the 6" personal to the 14" feast there's no way that you're leaving Damgoode without getting exactly what you want.
Pizza experts should jump right into build-your-own territory, as Damgoode's selection of toppings is varied and fresh. Five separate cheeses (feta, cheddar, mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan) are available to work with your sauce choice as a base for things as mundane and pepperoni and sausage all the way to dill pickles, walnuts, or shrimp. Red sauce lovers will be pleased by the tangy Original Red, while white pizza fans will rave about the garlic and cheese-infused Spicy White. For my money, I order them mixed into the rich Pink sauce, a flavor explosion that combines the best of all sauce worlds. Pile all that goodness up on a crispy thin crust, chewy hand-tossed, or double-crust "stuffy," and you've got yourself a pizza worth calling Damgoode.
Of course if you're not in the mood to build your own pie, Damgoode's got quite a selection of specialty pizzas that span a variety of tastes. Feta fans will find a lot to love about The Greek, which takes the salty cheese and pairs it with tomatoes, olives, and spinach to create a fully realized flavor profile that, while not revolutionary, is a delight to eat. For a more "out there" treat, go for The Voodoo, a Cajun-inspired pie made with shrimp, chicken, peppers, and a healthy dose of Tabasco to create the decadent off-spring of illicit love between pizza and gumbo.
For true pizza perfection, though, go with The Underdog, and keep it simple. Thin crust works perfect here (as I find the "stuffy" option to be an overkill of dough), and the spicy pink sauce makes a great base for red and yellow bell peppers, onions, black olives, and cheddar cheese. I'm not generally a fan of cheddar on pizza, but this pie is the exception that tests that rule. It's a well-balanced combination of flavorful toppings, spicy sauce, and tangy cheese. The Underdog also passes that most important pizza test with flying colors: it's good either cold or warmed up for the next day's breakfast.
If there's one downfall to Damgoode, it's that the service varies from passable to terrible. Sunday lunch is a particular nightmare at the Cantrell location, and I've heard more details of the wait staff's Saturday night activities and Sunday morning hangovers than I care to. But when the place is on, it's a good, solid pizza joint, and if you play your cards right with crust, sauce, and topping choices, the addition of those $1 beers won't hit your pocketbook all that hard. Little Rock is blessed with a good number of tasty pizza joints, and Damgoode easily holds its own as one of the elite, especially with that winner of an Underdog.
Damgoode has several locations across Arkansas, but head to their 6706 Cantrell location for what their website calls "the dine-in experience you've been waiting for."