Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Top 10 Pizzas in Little Rock

Posted By and on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 6:21 AM

click to enlarge Pizza Mista from Bruno’s Little Italy
  • Pizza Mista from Bruno’s Little Italy

It's found in a variety of forms, but no matter how you slice it, pizza remains one of the most wonderful things to ever come out of an oven. Everyone has their favorite and most of us were trained to love this stuff from a very young age. Folks will defend their favorite pizza joint until the bitter end, and Little Rock pizza lovers are no different. But some pizza joints remain popular for good reason. They rise above all others…the upper crust of Little Rock pizza. Here are our 10 favorite pizzas in Little Rock:

Pizza Mista from Bruno’s Little Italy 
Since the resurrection of this, the original Bruno’s Little Italy downtown, pizza and pasta lovers have been filling the restaurant nightly. It’s changed locations and changed hands several times in the past…but we all hope it never leaves us again. Bruno’s Little Italy does many things right, but their pizza is definitely at the top of that list. They do a version of Neapolitan pie, all hand-thrown, with a crispy crust that’s slightly chewy at the center. Which pie to order? Take a tip from Larry Jegley…he recommends the Pizza Mista. This wonderful concoction comes topped with sausage, mushroom, pepperoni, ground beef, red onion, and black olives. High quality meats and exceptional cheeses set this pie apart. It’s the next best thing to actually eating in Italy.

click to enlarge The Queens Deluxe from NYPD Pizza
  • The Queens Deluxe from NYPD Pizza

The Queens Deluxe from NYPD Pizza
This pizza has a deliciously thin crust that gives way to crispy, yet doughy edges. It’s topped with an assortment of fresh toppings including pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper and mozzarella cheese. And NYPD isn’t stingy with the toppings. Get a large and take the extra home, as it makes for excellent leftovers after being reheated in the oven.

The 3 Little Pigs from ZAZA 
No pizza list in Little Rock would be complete without this Heights staple. ZAZA rarely disappoints, as evidenced by the hoards of hungry pizza lovers swarming this place nightly. Most ZAZA fans have their own go-to pie, and it’s difficult to single one out as “the best” at this place. But a relatively recent menu addition has stolen our hearts and we find ourselves ordering it over and over again. The “3 Little Pigs” is ZAZA’s ode to meat, and there’s plenty of pig piled high on this pie. Petit Jean bacon, Petit Jean ham, and crispy pepperoni can all be found here. It’s a hot, salty, seductive pie that you’ll be thinking about for weeks after eating it.

click to enlarge Bruno’s Special Pizza from Bruno’s Italian Bistro
  • Bruno’s Special Pizza from Bruno’s Italian Bistro

Bruno’s Special Pizza from Bruno’s Italian Bistro
How’s this one for you? We’ve only had this pizza once, and it was delivered, and it was a tad soggy in the middle, and it still makes the Top 10 list. Why? Because we can definitely see the potential. It was darn good after a 20-minute wait, so we can only imagine how awesome it would be in-house. Loads of Italian sausage, beef, Canadian bacon, black olives and onions, along with a small dose of mildly sweet tomato sauce, rest atop of a substantial crust. The Italian sausage is the star of this pie.

click to enlarge The Quattro Stagioni from Pizzeria Santa Lucia
  • The Quattro Stagioni from Pizzeria Santa Lucia

The Quattro Stagioni from Pizzeria Santa Lucia 
While they are currently only operating as a mobile pizza oven, their soon-to-be brick and mortar restaurant will likely have the whole city talking about the things coming out of their kitchen. Santa Lucia’s menu changes regularly, so it’s always difficult to guarantee what you’ll find there. But the wonderful “Quattro Stagioni” stands out in our minds as one of their most successful pies to date. Mozzarella, mushrooms, briny olives, meaty artichokes, succulent prosciutto and oregano. It’s brought to you hot and ready to be devoured after a short visit in their 800+ degree wood-fired oven.

click to enlarge Cheese Pizza from Layla’s
  • Cheese Pizza from Layla’s

Cheese Pizza from Layla’s
From the overly complex to the ultra-simple … when it comes to pizza at this WLR hot spot, definitely opt for the plain cheese. The thin, crisp, almost bland crust is elevated by gobs and gobs of gooey, stringy mozzarella cheese. This is a child’s dream pizza, but adults should certainly give it a whirl as well.

The Underdog from Damgoode Pies 
The name, of course, is ironic given the fact that it’s arguably the best selling pie on their menu. Supposedly, it’s won at least one national award, too. You could go hog wild and order it “stuffy,” a monstrous pie that shoves the toppings between two layers of dough and smothers it with sauce. But lets be honest, no matter how you order it, the secret here is in the sauce…the pink sauce, to be exact. It’s a creamy, slightly spicy concoction that (at least in our minds) represents the most essential element of Damgoode’s pizzas.

Clean the Floor from Iriana’s - (PHOTO: BRIAN CHILSON)
  • (Photo: Brian Chilson)
  • Clean the Floor from Iriana’s

Clean the Floor from Iriana’s
Practically a Little Rock institution, the Clean the Floor pizza at Iriana’s is your typical “supreme” pizza. Iriana’s soft crust provides the perfect platform for the mushrooms, onions, Canadian bacon, sausage, peppers, pepperoni, and black olives. Add to that the excellent blend of seasonings in the red sauce and you’ve got yourself one of the best pizzas in town.

click to enlarge Artichoke Chicken from Pizza Cafe
  • Artichoke Chicken from Pizza Cafe

Artichoke Chicken
from Pizza Cafe 
This long-time staple of Little Rock pizza lovers offers up a number of interesting house specialties, many of which stray away from anything remotely “Italian.” But that doesn’t mean they are not worth eating. The “Salami Muffulatta” is a wonderful twist on the classic New Orleans sandwich, the “Mexican Chicken” eschews traditional marinara for a spicier salsa base. But it’s their Artichoke Chicken pie that we find at our table most often. Chargrilled chicken, mozzarella, cheddar, and feta cheeses, with artichoke, garlic, and onion. They like their crust extra crispy, too…and that’s just fine with us.

click to enlarge Mushroom and Italian Sausage Pizza from Vino’s
  • Mushroom and Italian Sausage Pizza from Vino’s

Mushroom and Italian Sausage Pizza from Vino’s
By now, it’s fairly evident we love us some Italian sausage, so we might as well order it on a Vino’s pizza. And while the finely chopped mushrooms and meat are sensational, what truly makes this pie shine is the slightly thicker, yet still foldable crust that is oh so chewy. In the past, we’ve even been known to order an entire extra pizza and throw it in the home freezer. Vino’s definitely excels during the reheat.

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