The food scene in Arkansas has been changing over the past couple years, and Hot Springs has been a quiet, but growing, part of it. Having been known as a haven for national chains and franchises, the Spa City is now the place where privately owned restaurants are thriving. One owner in particular is helping change the food scene with awesome pizza at Deluca's Pizzeria Napolitano
. His name: Anthony Valinoti
Although he won't let me call him a chef, Tony is the man in the kitchen at Deluca's, and it's his vision that is responsible for the flavorful pies that come from that hot brick oven. A native of Brooklyn, Tony has made Arkansas his home and in the process, has made his mark as one of the most creative restaurant owners in town.
One mistake that some chefs and owners make is not being accessible to the customers. At Deluca's, you will never have that problem — Tony makes it a point to come into the dining room to meet and greet his customers. I can tell you, as a Southerner, that hospitality is very much appreciated.
One of my favorite quotes from Tony, after I told him my pizza was perfect, was "It's not perfect, I'll tell you when it's perfect." That tells me that Anthony Valinoti knows that he always wants to improve his product.
I hit it off instantly with Tony, as most people do. We have conversations on end about food, and "putting love into food." You can definitely taste the love in every Deluca's pizza. Tony makes every pie with the attitude that it has has to be the best he has made.
There is one thing you absolutely will not find in Tony's kitchen: a freezer. Everything is fresh, nothing is ever frozen, ever. The dough is made by hand, toppings and vegetables are fresh and Tony uses locally grown products. The flavors are awesome.
No trip to Hot Springs should be complete without making a trip to Deluca's, and no trip to Deluca's is complete without meeting Anthony Valinoti. Tony has brought something fresh and new to Hot Springs. Although the pies are the best around, what Tony has brought is the attitude that hospitality, creativity, and love are all the components of great food.
So head on over to Deluca's, and taste the love in each and every slice. Be sure to meet Anthony Valinoti while you are there. Tell him Louis at Eat Arkansas sent you.