Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
We were concerned about the closing of the OW Pizza location off Highway 10 a few months ago. Successive visits to the original location just north of the state Capitol have convinced us that OW still has appeal.
For starters, it's hard to go wrong with Uncle Ellen's meatballs. They come in either beef and pork or only beef versions, with fresh herbs grown at the restaurant. They're relatively low on filler. We've tried them as an appetizer ($5) and as a component in a calzone ($8.25 for up to three toppings), and enjoyed both.
The appetizer we like best, though, is the Mediterranean Bread ($4.10). Forgoing the traditional, OW uses feta along with mozzarella on the dish, pairing the cheese with chunks of fresh tomatoes and its house-made basil pesto on toasted French bread for a startlingly bright dish. It's served up with the house marinara — fresh tomato chunks with an overload of fresh oregano, basil and garlic. We'd eat that marinara on crackers if that was all that was available.
There's also the pesto pasta ($7.25), a blend of tri-color rotini with basil-heavy pesto. For $1.50 more you can add one meat or up to four vegetables. We recommend artichoke hearts and mushrooms for a tart delight. We've also tried it with tomatoes, green olives and onions. The pasta is baked together with the ingredients and cheese on a pizza pan. It's a substantial amount of food.
OW's Old World-style sauce has a garlic oil base with tomatoes and garlic; the New World-style is marinara. We've sampled several of the pizzas (sometimes by ordering a half-and-half), and our favorite is Jeannie's Famous Veggie Pie ($6.99 personal to $19.95 for a 16-inch pie). Served up with the olive oil base, it's great with chunky artichoke hearts, mushrooms, green pepper and onions. The Butcher Block runs a close second. It's overloaded with two types of sausage, bacon, Canadian bacon, beef and pepperoni. The meat is so dense a fork is required.
Old World has also started offering a selection of cold salads. We like the tuna salad with a side of potato salad for a light lunch. The tuna salad is almost creamy in consistency, with finely chopped bits of onion and whole salty capers. Though the croissant is nice, we prefer it on wheatberry bread. The potato salad is skin-on red potatoes and mayo with a nice dose of fresh dill, a simple yet hearty side item. Chips are also available.
The Caribbean chicken salad is a bright combination of red grapes, Craisins, peanuts and Granny Smith apples; despite the latter, it borders on the rim of being too sweet. There's also the unusual turkey and cheddar sandwich, which comes with a cranberry relish and a layer of fresh spinach — every food group in a hand-held package. It's got almost too many flavors.
If there is anything we have questions about, it's the gumbo. While one dining companion adored the Italian sausage, clam and shrimp concoction, another decided it was just way too much for his liking. Considering how well the other items we tried on our successive visits went over, we can't really fault for a difference in opinion here.