Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
The River Market again has two Italian options for lunching, now that Scapetto’s has joined Layla’s Pizzeria in the hall. We tried both.
Our vote: Layla’s.
Scapetto’s is all dolled up with plastic sausages and stuff dangling over the counter, and the food looks good, too. It offers eggplant hoagies, a dynamite idea for eggplant people (who tend to be ferocious in their love for eggplant). Its hot trays steam with sausages and grilled peppers and onions, meatballs, chicken parmigiano and eggplant; you can make hoagies, which are ample, of the selection or order them with spaghetti. The sandwich is huge: From meat supplier Boar’s Head Brand come roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, bologna, liverwurst, salami, capacol and prosciutto; imported cheese is the vegetarian offering.
So, it just sounds great. But Scapetto’s, perhaps in deference to the diverse population that finds its way to the River Market for lunch, has left its spices and distinctive touches at home. The eggplant, now, is quite good, fried up thin. But those delicious-looking sausages? Bland. The tomato sauce — chunky and thick — was on the sweet side. And the bread for the hoagies left something to be desired. We say: Be bold, Scapetto’s! Break out the spicy sausage, add a little fennel to the tomato sauce and improve your bread. Especially since you are cooking take-home dinners! (Baked ziti, meatloaf, turkey leg, etc., priced by the pound.)
Layla’s, now moved to the northwest corner of the River Market, doesn’t overlap Scapetto’s menu. It serves up pizza and calzones and a number of hot dishes, all made right before your eyes by an extremely hardworking staff. We watched our spinach calzone take shape, dough rolled, spinach and ricotta dolloped on, and skittered into the oven.
Layla’s manages to get the pizza out quick because it uses a cracker-thin crust; the wait was surprisingly short. (If you’re really short on time you can just order up a slice or two.) The calzone was more than we could eat at one sitting, but absolutely worth saving for later. For just a little under $5 each, our companions got 9-inch “personal” pizzas, and thought they were not only bargains, but pretty good pizza.
Drink selections at both Scapetto’s and Layla’s include sodas and water. Tea would have been nice. An interesting note: Lunch for three was $16 and change at both places.
Deli & Catering
Both at 400 President Clinton Ave., River Market building.