Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pizza or calzone — the Layla's conundrum

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 10:24 AM

click to enlarge Greek pizza with gyro meat - MICHAEL ROBERTS
  • Michael Roberts
  • Greek pizza with gyro meat
When people ask me about my favorite restaurants, my answer always starts with "it depends." Food style, price point, dining facilities, drink selection — there are a ton of things that go into creating any list of "favorites." When it comes to high quality cheap eats, though, there's pretty much one constant answer for me: Layla's on Rodney Parham. 

Gyros, shawarma, excellent hummus, and one of the greatest lentil soups I've ever had — Layla's has it all. But where the place really shines is with its selection of pizzas and calzones, particularly those which incorporate their signature gyro meat.

Gyro meat on a pizza? Well, it's not as far-fetched as it might seem at first blush. After all, the regular gyro is meat and toppings served on flat bread — not all that different than a pizza. So take an excellent, crisp crust, top it with gyro meat, feta, mozzarella, onions, and tomato and the result is one of the finest pizzas I've ever had the pleasure to eat. Of course there are more "mainstream" pizzas available at Layla's (and they are good), but for one of Little Rock's most unique items, this Greek Pizza is a must-get. 

A "must get" until you consider that Layla's will also take that same gyro meat and use it to fill up one of Little Rock's greatest calzones. As with the pizza, the crust here is magnificent: a delightful combination of crisp and chewy that not only stands up to the copious toppings but also adds a lot of flavor to the dish. Breaking into the calzone is an experience of fragrant meat, gooey cheese, and just the right amount of herbs. It's an out-of-control experience featuring the foundations of life: meat, cheese, and bread.

Layla's hits that sweet spot that elevates restaurants into classics: the food is excellent, it sits at a very attractive price point, and the service is almost always friendly and good. Having put away a pile of these pizzas and calzones over the years, I understand the tough choice that faces diners at the eatery. There's just one answer to this obvious conundrum: order one of each.

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