Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Old Chicago, one in a slew of new Conway eateries, might not be the best thing we've ever had but, by damn, you can get alcohol there. As part of the city's increasing “dampening,” this pizza joint offers not just beer and wine but a full bar.
It's yet another good ol' American chain-style bar/restaurant that we all love to go to from time to time. The restaurant offers an expansive menu of pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, strombolis, calzones, burgers, steaks, salads — basically something for everyone, and within a reasonable price range. And there are TVs everywhere.
It's located near downtown in the old Walter Chevrolet building, elbow-to-elbow with a new Doe's Eat Place. Some of the charm of the old building has been obscured. The exposed metal trusses have been painted black to match the building's curved roof, but the old brick walls are still there.
Since the word “pizza” is on the sign, we thought we'd try one of those. Old Chicago offers specialty pies and the build-your-own variety. We chose an individual “Chicago Seven” — topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, red onions and plenty of cheese. The pan-style crust was thick, soft and buttered (though not too heavily) on the bottom. It probably could have fed two (and for only $10, that's a lot of food), but then again we were halfway full after pigging out on the “Signature trio” appetizer ($9.49).
That starter comes with homemade pizza rolls oozing with pepper jack and mozzarella cheese, stuffed with pepperonis and wrapped inside a thin, flaky crust. They were delicious. Rounding out the trio were Italian nachos (sausage, pepperoni, cheese and banana peppers piled on top of fried tortilla quarters) and cheesy garlic bread. In case you haven't noticed a pattern, they like cheese at Old Chicago.
Our companions chose a variety of entrees. The steak and 'shroom sandwich came topped with cheese and a horseradish mayo sauce, which was a nice touch, but the sammie was a little dry. The Italian sausage stromboli was delicious. Stuffed with the perfect amount of sausage, peppers, onions and, of course, cheese, it comes wrapped in a crispy homemade “pizzini” bread. All sandwiches and strombolis are served with french fries and range from $8 to $10.
Lasagna is always a safe choice, but this Italian standby had a little too much sausage for our taste. Our companion was satisfied with the choice, however, and ate almost the entire thing — no small feat.
To satisfy our sweet tooth we chose a couple of desserts. The “applezini” is Old Chicago's take on the standard apple-something dessert. They take their homemade pizzini bread, stuff it with apple pie filling and top it with cinnamon and caramel. Served with ice cream, it's a nice end-of-meal treat ($4.99). The “little big cookie” was perfectly cooked, doughy-sweet yet lightly crispy on the outside (a great dessert for two or three at $2.59).
While not the most memorable meal we've had, we left full, happy, and thanks to the great beer selection, a little buzzed.
Old Chicago Pizza and Pasta
1010 Main St., Conway
Old Chicago is a great place to hit up happy hour. They've got a great selection of beer and a draft Shiner Bock costs as little as other American light beers. The Sicilian pepperoni rolls are a winner and with a menu this big, it's a great place to go with a big group or when the fam comes to visit.
11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily
Full bar, credit cards accepted.