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When you think about pizza and Little Rock, there are a few longtime favorites that come immediately to mind. You might think Larry's for lunch, Damgoode for dinner, Iriana's for the ranch dressing, ZaZa's for something a little more gourmet or Pizza Cafe if the weather's nice. But there are other joints that are perhaps a little less well known. Like Press 1's Pizza in Sherwood.
In terms of taste, Press 1's fits in the hierarchy of local pizza places somewhere between Damgoode and U.S. Pizza. In terms of atmosphere it's fairly unique. Located just off JFK Boulevard, it's situated in a log cabin-looking structure that reminds you more of grandma's house than a Pizza Hut. Tacked to the walls are newspaper clippings of old reviews, family pictures of smiling little kids and various other knickknacks. The night we visited, the big-screen was tuned in to the baseball game.
In cooler times, the porch outside would be just about perfect. It's covered and there's plenty of picnic-style seating. A great place to enjoy a cold pitcher of beer, but not in August.
There's a lot on the menu: sandwiches, salads and pizzas. Racked with indecision, we figured an appetizer might go perfectly with our pitcher of cheap beer and tide us over until dinner came. We went with the cheese sticks, which come in orders of two ($2.75) or four ($4.75). Two will do the trick for two people. These don't come fried like cheese sticks so often do. Rather, they're breadsticks sliced longways, filled with gooey mozzarella and served with a side of marinara, similar to what you'll find at a U.S. Pizza. If cheese sticks aren't your thing, Press 1 also has chips and salsa ($6.95), chicken wings (six for $5.95; 12 for $10.95), pizza crust topped with garlic butter and mozzarella ($5.45) or nachos ($6.95).
Appetizers are all well and good, but you go to a pizza place because you want a pizza. There are plenty to choose from here: The menu offers a host of specialty pizzas including south-of-the-border chicken, artichoke and roasted garlic or a vegetable medley. The 10-inch Italy's Favorite ($13.95, $17.95 for the 12) sounded good to us. Garlic, chicken, spinach, jalapenos and spicy tomatoes sit on top of an olive oil and alfredo sauce. It's smothered with feta, Parmesan, pepper jack and mozzarella cheese.
The heft of this beast is something to behold. For a second we just stared at the cheese-covered heap, wondering how we ever thought we could eat the 12-inch version.
The crust is fairly thick, what most places might call hand-tossed, but it wasn't near strong enough to support the weight of what was baked on top of it. You'll have to eat this one with a fork.
It's topped with a rich white sauce, a nice compliment to the spicy jalapeno peppers. And the cheese, oh man, the cheese. There's plenty of it here, but you could taste the distinct flavor of each kind. There was enough mozzarella to make our table look like an old-school pizza commercial where the stringy-cheese never breaks from pan to plate.
Our pie, piled up with toppings and baked brown around the edges, tasted like something you'd make at home. A couple of pieces each and we had to call it quits. The leftovers, however, made for great lunches throughout the rest of the week.
In subsequent trips we tried the four-cheese ($11.95, $15.95) and the supreme ($13.95, $17.95). The four-cheese is topped with Parmesan, feta, cheddar and mozzarella. The combination was flavorful, if a little rich. This particular pie comes drizzled in olive oil and topped in "spicy tomatoes," which works well in the place of your standard marinara, although we might just as well have the latter.
The supreme was about what you'd expect, done well. The toppings aren't gourmet but they work well together. Combine them with a healthy dose of cheese and a solid crust and this pizza was definitely one of our favorites and one that will keep us coming back.
Press 1's Pizza
8403 Highway 107, Sherwood
If you're not feeling pizza-ish, Press 1's salads are huge and, like their pizza selections, piled high with toppings and cheese. The chicken supreme salad comes with lettuce, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, cheese and bacon bits. While you wait for your pie, there's a good selection of beers to choose from, so enjoy the wait.
4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Beer and wine. Credit cards accepted.