Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
When we heard that Jim’s Razorback Pizza recently opened a new location on Cantrell Road, we called the other Jim’s locations in the area. (There are two: One is in North Little Rock and the other is in Southwest Little Rock.) They didn’t know about their new sibling, they didn’t have a phone number for it and they couldn’t tell us where it was.
But we heard it was well beyond the intersection with Interstate 430, so we just started driving. Keep your eyes peeled, we told our companion as we squinted at every strip mall we passed.
Just as we passed Taylor Loop Road and thought we might have gone too far, a huge sign appeared on the south side of the highway: Jim’s Razorback Pizza!
The restaurant appears to be anchoring another brand-new Highway 10 strip mall called Bella Rosa Commerce Center. By all accounts it is doing a great business, attesting to the growing population out west and an accompanying demand for great food. It’s owned and operated by a group that includes Keith Hardin, an investor in Nu Cuisine Lounge. Graham Cobb, whose interests include Max Recordings with Burt Taggart, is the general manager.
We already knew Jim’s pizza was good, having had it for years in Fayetteville, where the chain started. The newest addition adheres to the same standards, but adds a terrific environment for a family meal or a night out with the guys.
It reminded us of a scaled-back ESPN Zone, with a high-ceilinged, spacious main room furnished with black vinyl booths. A big semi-circular bar occupies the middle of the space with room for about 12 bar stools, and another side area has several high-top tables. Flat-screen TVs are all over, tuned to football the afternoon we visited. There is even a cage for shooting basketballs and playing ping-pong.
Of course, there is pizza at Jim’s, including the familiar Razorback Supreme (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions and green peppers) and the Hawg Wild (pepperoni, sausage and Canadian bacon). Both are $7.75 to $16.25 depending on the size of the pie, and you can choose between the original thin and crispy crust and a deep-pan variety.
Jim’s also offers a few other choices ranging from a traditional vegetarian to the more exotic Spanish Pie (bean and tomato sauce, beef, lettuce, black olives, sour cream, Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses). We tried the BBQ Bird, which substitutes barbecue sauce for the regular tomato sauce and adds a topping of grilled chicken chunks, onions and a three-cheese blend. It was a perfect combination of flavors for our taste, and we were particularly impressed with the subtlety of the sauce, which was lightly smoky but not overpowering.
Our favorite part of the meal, however, was the appetizer of Hot Fire Wings ($5.25). Served with a side of ranch dressing, these grilled wings were tasty and cooked to perfection. We said afterward that we would come there just to eat the wings and drink beer.
There is more on the menu, from garlic bread and salads to sandwiches and pasta dishes. In addition to a wide range of beers, Jim’s serves a house sangiovese wine ($3 a glass, $11 a bottle) as well as cabernet, merlot, chardonnay and zinfandel ($4 a glass, $12 a bottle).
On the weekends you can try a unique version of brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jim’s makes a breakfast pizza that is similar to a quiche, with eggs, cheese and milk whipped up inside their pizza crust. Or you can order off the regular menu.
It’s the kind of place we would love to go to after we have rolled out of bed on a lazy Sunday: a Razorback-named restaurant that serves beer, Jim’s pizza and football. Just like the good old college days. Only you couldn’t drink beer on Sunday back then.
Jim’s Razorback Pizza
16101 Cantrell Road
Bella Rosa Commerce Center
The always-great Jim’s pizza served up in a family-friendly, sports-themed environment. Special brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Moderate prices. Credit cards accepted. Beer and wine.