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The main course is one thing. Dessert is another. Stromboli's in Conway serves up Italian favorites at a great price, but the dessert – cannolis, sorbetto and gelato – is what sets this mom and pop apart.
Stromboli's is almost hidden in one of Conway's many shopping centers and the sign outside, along with the menus, posters and table tents inside, have the feeling of chain restaurant. But that's not the case, Robin Morrissey-Stauffer says. Her husband, Ken Stauffer, owns the restaurant. Morrissey-Stauffer helps out when she's not working as a graphic designer — which explains the sleek promotional materials.
The atmosphere inside is friendly. Large windows let in plenty of natural light. A chalkboard set up on the counter tells you the day's specials and a vase of fresh rosemary invites customers to take a piece to garnish their meal. Orders are placed up front and there is no shortage of choices.
As the name suggests, strombolis (a cousin of the calzone that's made of dough, sauce and various ingredients and then rolled into an oblong loaf) are the specialty. The menu features nine options and a create-your-own option. Each is served in three different sizes (medium is just about right, if not a bit much). Prices vary but for the most part a mini is $6.29, medium $8.49 and a large $12.99.
The capicola, Italian sausage and peppers stromboli, stuffed with capicola Italian ham, sausage, red and green peppers, onion, Monterey jack and mozzarella chese, is a solid choice. The ingredients are fresh, the crust hand-tossed and the cheese warm and stringy. A side-serving of marinara makes for great dipping.
The chicken pesto stromboli, made with fresh pesto, grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, feta, Monterey jack and mozzarella, has to be one of the tastiest items on the menu. The pesto is just right, not too oily, and the tomatoes serve as a nice, sweet complement to the savory peppers.
The menu includes salads, pizzas, calzones, grinders and paninis, plus a kid's menu. Our vegetarian friend tried the Very Veggie calzone ($6.99), which comes filled with onion, green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and black olives, wrapped in mozzarella and ricotta cheese. The verdict? Tasty and filling, but not very exciting. The spinach, roasted red pepper and feta calzone might be a zestier vegetarian choice.
Once our plates had been cleared, it was time for dessert. We love sweets and the cannoli, a crispy pastry filled with sweet ricotta cream, was the obvious choice. We chose the regular ($2.89), but you can have it dipped in chocolate for just a dime more. The shell was perfectly cooked – not too sweet – and the cold cream was delicious. A perfect summertime dessert.
Stromboli's also offers gelato, an Italian ice-cream, and sorbetto, which is fruit-based and dairy-free (small $3.09, medium $4.59, pint $9.99). We stared indecisively at the colorful spread and were promptly offered a free sample of any or every flavor we liked – chocolate, strawberry, orange, lemon, caramel, chocolate, peach. Each one was as light and delightful as the next. We settled on three different flavors: dulce de leche, a rich, caramel-flavored cream; Tiramasu, just like the Italian dessert, but in ice cream form; and wildberry, a pink-ish, purple fruity-sweet concoction. These were some of the best desserts we've had in a while and definitely set Stromboli's apart from other dessert hot-spots in Conway.
The only drawback we encountered was a somewhat long wait, but the food was well worth it. For the amount of money you spend, the quality of the Italian selections at Stromboli's is great. You could do better, but only slightly, and it would cost a lot more at a fancier, table-service-type restaurant. Plus, their food beats the heck out of any chain.
But don't just take it from us. You can read comments from happy customers on their Facebook page. If you need further incentive to check it out, Stromboli's offers coupons to followers and friends, including everything from free bread sticks to special deals on dinner.
2665 N. Donaghey Ave. No. 101
If you've got a big appetite, a medium stromboli will definitely fill you up. If you're looking for something a little lighter, try a mini size and a side salad. Of course, you could always skip dinner and go straight for the sorbetto.
11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Credit cards accepted; no alcohol.