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The supreme court 

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While there’s something to be said for a slice of plain-as-paint pepperoni, or even a wedge of good old cheese pizza, our champagne taste means that we’ve always been a fan of going straight to the top of the list.

“Supreme” is one of those big, scary words — built around the same stuff as “superior” — that’s meant to strike fear into the hearts of rivals. If you’ve got the guts to call a pizza you make “The Supreme,” you’d better have the stuff to back it up.

With that in mind, we decided to go in search of Little Rock’s supremist supreme. Checkbook: Open. Size: Large. Toppings: Whatever ain’t nailed down or plumbed to the wall back in the kitchen.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s the tale of the tape.

VINO’S

923 W. Seventh St.

375-8466

They Call It: “Vino’s Special”

Diameter: 16 inches

Weight: 4 lbs, 6.5 oz.

Cost: $16.75 (28 cents per ounce)

Toppings: Extra cheese (as compared to their standard pies), pepperoni, mushrooms, Italian sausage, onions, meatballs, green peppers, green and black olives.

Sauce: Especially tasty — thick and dark red; very herb-y, with maybe a hint of basil and rosemary.

Crust: Vino’s definitely features one of the better crusts we sampled on this odyssey: a thick, buttery foundation with just a hint of beery flavor and a slight, welcome crispness. Beyond tasting great right from the oven, Vino’s crust handily fulfilled the secondary goals of pizza crust since the beginning of time: Keep the sauce from seeping through the pizza box and staining my car seat on the way home, and don’t go all leathery on me in the refrigerator.

Verdict: God bless Vino’s, haunt of our storied youth. If we could only tell you how many times we downed a slice of their Special during a night on the town … well, we would, but the truth is we don’t quite remember a good many of those. Fond memory bonus points aside, Vino’s Special is still top notch — a big, hearty, soak-up-the-brew pie. On top are scads of nicely minced goodies, loads of cheese, and one of our favorite pizza toppings: green olives (you’d be surprised how a sprinkling of green olives will wake up an ordinary pizza). The Vino’s Special could have used a few more onions, but — then again — who knows how many late-night hookups have been saved by their restraint when it comes to the laying on of the breath-bombs? Pair this pie with one of Vino’s in-house microbrews, and you’ve got a lovely way to say “I love you” to your beer belly.

IRIANA’S PIZZA

201 E. Markham St.

(between Scott and Cumberland)

374-3656

They Call It: “Sweep the Floor”

Diameter: 16 inches

Weight: 4 pounds, 4 oz.

Cost: $15.15 (22 cents per ounce)

Toppings: Cheese, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives

Sauce: Sweeter than most, though not overpoweringly so.

Crust: Though we’ve found that Iriana’s crust is a little too robust for their simpler pies (pepperoni and cheese, for example), when you load it to the gills and give it something to riff on, it becomes something close to the perfect pizza foundation. Chewy in the middle, more crispy as you head toward the ample rim, Iriana’s crust has a subtle, beery flavor to it. Hot from the oven, it’s almost puffy. Box it up to take home — giving everything a little soak time — and it drinks in all the juicy goodness of the toppings and sauce, creating a little slice of heaven.

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