Posts Tagged Deluca’s
Some quick thoughts for my latest eating experiences…
Nachos at Flyway: I’m a regular at Flyway Brewing. Overall, it’s the best-tasting beer being produced in this area, and more often than not, the bar bites match the beer’s deliciousness. This was the case with my order of Gator Nachos, a Saturday special in honor of the Hogs taking on the Florida Gators. Rather than pile a bunch of toppings over a mess of chips, Flyway does their nachos on an individual basis … with a small hunk of alligator being the main attraction this time around. Eating alligator always sounds cooler than it tastes. In truth, it’s taste is rather mundane, so it really comes down to the accompanying ingredients, which on this afternoon was a fantastic bean and corn relish, along with pickled okra and carrots.
South on Main’s Cheeseburger: South on Main was open last night for a special concert by local artist Elise Davis. The restaurant’s usual menu was replaced by a collection of comfort food dishes like spaghetti, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken. I opted for an appetizer of boudin balls, along with a cheeseburger and waffle fries. The waffle fries were so good that my tablemate and I got another order. And don’t get me started on the cheeseburger. Although last night’s version was a slightly different take on South on Main’s typical double patty nighttime concoction, the slightly pressed mound of beef was as juicy as can be, and once again proved why it’s one of the best burgers in town.
I Heart Deluca’s: You know I love Deluca’s. Hell, I tell anyone who’s willing to listen about Anthony Valinoti’s pizza in Hot Springs. I love it so much that I rarely eat anywhere else in town. But … I actually went down there and dined at another restaurant. Feeling extreme guilt after our lunch, I had to stop by Deluca’s and get two pizzas to-go. Folks, no shocker here, but it’s just not the same. This is pizza that needs to be eaten at the restaurant. Consider this public service announcement.
The Cue at McClard’s: Yes, I finally went to McClard’s BBQ. It took me damn near five years, but I did it. And there were many things I loved about this iconic Hot Springs restaurant, like the parking lot’s smoky aroma, the warm and cozy interior, and the insanely addictive Half Spread (tamale, Fritos, chopped beef, beans, onions, and cheese) gut bomb. Sure, it’s a total guilty pleasure, but it’s one I could see myself eating once or twice a year. It’s flat out tasty. I can’t say the same about the rather pedestrian chopped pork sandwich. Simply put, none of that wonderful smoke I caught a whiff of in the parking lot made its way into the meat.
Quick Stop at Rock Town Distillery: Had my first taste of the 12-month aged Rock Town’s barley bourbon whiskey … and I loved it. So much so that I bought a bottle (think it was $39) for the impending Thanksgiving holiday. In a word, this whiskey is very smooth. I may have also left with a bottle of the coffee liqueur made with Leiva’s Coffee.
Cookies for the Holidays: Sarah Declerk of Ann Potter Baking is putting together holiday cookie packages. The Thanksgiving package includes 2 dozen cookies for $45. There will be 6 decorated shortbread in a Thanksgiving theme, 6 German chocolate roll-ups, 6 cinnamon roll-ups, and 6 monster cookies. Pre-orders are needed and encouraged (email@example.com), and while it might be too late to get in on Thanksgiving, I’m told a similar package will be available for Christmas. I recently sampled the German chocolate roll-ups and can tell you they are fantastic.
Vermicelli Bowl at Mike’s Cafe: Does Mike’s Cafe (near UALR campus) ever disappoint? The answer is no. It doesn’t. If you’ve never been, please go, order either a vermicelli bowl or the pho and report back. Mike’s is such an underrated restaurant.
Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…
Sadly, it had been about 10 months since my last visit to Deluca’s, my favorite pizzeria located in Hot Springs. I’d heard rumors about some slight changes to the dough, so anticipation was pretty high heading into Saturday’s visit. Long story short, the pizza, which was already some of the best I’ve eaten anywhere, is now even better. The crust is lighter, thinner, and has a crispier texture. It now leans more towards a classic NY-style pizza, with fold-able slices and fewer toppings. Our table opted for the classic cheese pizza, along with a Consigliere, the latter of which was topped with peppadews, fresh basil, and chunks of meatballs. The soft, tender meatballs, also a relatively new addition to the menu, were every bit as impressive as the crust, which is really saying something. I should also mention our meal-starters … the Caprese Salad and a beautiful meat plate, both of which were excellent, although the Caprese would have definitely benefited from a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Service was stellar and our pies hit the table in a timely fashion. The entire experience was exactly what you look for when carving out a good chunk of a Saturday for a highly anticipated meal.
We hit Lost Forty Brewing on Friday night for a friend’s birthday party, one which was located in the brewery area just across from the main dining/drinking hall. If you’re thinking about having a party in this space, I highly recommend it. Being surrounded by thousands of beer cans, while eating and drinking for a few hours makes for a fun time. I tried two different beers, and while I was impressed by the my super cold and crisp Saison, I was equally unimpressed with the Hefeweizen, a wheat beer that just had a pedestrian taste to it.
Flyway’s Coffee Cake Stout is back, and as I found out last week, it really is better than ever. In fact, it’s one of the top 2-3 beers I’ve had in Little Rock. It’s dark, rich, and full of chocolaty, coffee flavor, thanks in large part to the brewery’s collaboration with Izard Chocolate and Mugs Café (cold brew from Onyx Coffee Lab Coffee). The food at Flyway is also progressing quite nicely. Although it might not be the most popular item on the menu, I highly recommend getting the Marinated Tofu Bahn Mi sliders ($8). The dish is a little small for the price, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in taste. I’m secretly a big fan of tofu and Flyway’s version hits the spot.
I love stopping at The Root in the morning for a cup of Mountain Bird Coffee and a house-made doughnut muffin. If you’ve never tried one of these “muffins,” you may want to consider doing so in the near future. It’s really a guilty pleasure, as the entire thing is covered in sugar. And here’s the best part … the coffee/muffin combo is only $3.88.
Speaking of sugar, have you been following Just Desserts by Zara? She has upped her game, adding fancier decorated cakes to her already strong arsenal of confections. I ordered a lemon curd cake for my wife’s birthday that was absolutely gorgeous, and, of course, tasty. Zara just posted that she’s now booked with private orders through March, but if you’re in need of a cake, you may want to still reach out to her, as openings sometimes become available.
Finally, a quick shout out to Sarah over at Ann Potter Baking who is teaching cookie classes on Tuesday, October 11 (5:30-7:30pm) and Wednesday, October 12 (6-8pm). For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below you’ll find a variety of some of the newer products, businesses, drinks, and various food items that I’ve come across during my culinary adventures over the past month or two. I wanted to help spread the word—giving you a quick heads up–just in case you weren’t aware of them.
The Food Truck Stop in Downtown
Are you aware that we now have a designated location for food trucks in downtown? I’ve been a few times over the past two months and am so impressed with layout, facility, and overall location. The Little Rock Food Truck Stop is at 801 South Chester Street and runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Monday-Friday.
Zara’s Cinnamon Roll Cake
I’ve mentioned it … Daniel Walker has mentioned it … and now it’s time for you to order it. Zara Abbasi Wilkerson’s Cinnamon Roll Cake is the real deal. I’ve had several of Zara’s cakes over the past few years and this one now sits at the very top of her desserts. It tastes exactly like a cinnamon roll, but it’s a cake.
Speaking of cinnamon rolls, go check out Walker’s latest write-up of Cinnalightful—one of Little Rock’s newest dessert makers. Starting April 2nd, you can find Cinnalightful at The Drug Emporium (9112 Rodney Parham)
The Root’s Expansion
Go check out The Root’s FB page to get see the latest on their new dining room expansion project. The restaurant has been doing some dinner pop-ups to test the waters, and I imagine once the new addition of the restaurant is complete, we’ll start seeing a roll-out of a dinner service. This is great news, as the only thing that’s been holding this restaurant back is space.
Moody Brews’ Oatmeal Pale Ale at Vino’s
Josiah Moody is a great beer-maker. Rarely, if ever, have I walked into a place and gotten a growler of beer without tasting the actual beer first. That’s what I did a few weeks ago with his Oatmeal Pale Ale at Vino’s. Josiah is like that awesome bartender or chef that you trust to make you anything … and you’ll end up loving it. Anyways, go to Vino’s and try out one of his newer creations.
Raptor Ridge Wine
Last week, I attended the Raptor Ridge Wine Dinner at South on Main, and while I’m no stranger to the wine itself, I haven’t plugged it before. Well, here’s me plugging it. I’m certainly an amateur wine enthusiast, but have always loved great Oregon pinots and Raptor Ridge is a great pinot. You can find Raptor Ridge all around town, but I’ll put in a mention for O’Looney’s in WLR.
Owner/baker Sharon Woodson of Honey Pies is still relatively new to the Little Rock food scene, but she’s really starting to build a loyal following. I’ve tried several of her pies, but my current favorite is the Chocolate Fudge Brownie Pie. It really holds true to its name, tasting exactly like a delicious, moist brownie … with a crust.
New Exhibit at Deluca’s
Local artist and good friend, Yang Branch, owner of Y Illustrations, will have her original art on display (and for sale) at Deluca’s throughout the entire month of April. Yang does such wonderful work, so please make sure to check it out beginning this Friday.
I made the quarterly pilgrimage down to Hot Springs for my fix of Deluca’s pizza last Friday afternoon with a few friends who happened to be first timers. It was the same old story … still the best pizza around.
Then in dawned on me, I’ve been coming to Deluca’s for a year now and I’ve never had anything that wasn’t spectacular. And I mean everything, from the salads, to the meat plate, to all of the pizzas, and even the cannoli. It’s all been truly fantastic.
But you already know that.
At this point, you’re sick of reading all of the foodgasms from writers and fans. The addictive pizza and owner Anthony Valinoti’s larger than life personality make dining at Deluca’s an experience like no other in this state.
So, let’s be real … all you really care about is, “When can I get my ass down there to eat this pizza?”
If you can manage to match your schedule up with the restaurant’s fairly limited hours, I can almost guarantee it will be worth the drive down to Hot Springs.
I’ve been 6 or 7 times and it’s always great–every single time. A lot of credit not only goes to Anthony and his pursuit of perfection, but also to his loyal staff, including, but not limited to his right-hand man, Willy Whitelaw.
There is only two minor hitches. Deluca’s is super popular now and Anthony only makes 75 pies per day, so when he runs out of dough, that’s the end of the show. Also, he only has so much space in that oven, so if you go during peak times, you may possibly be in for a wait.
No worries, however, perfect pizza tends to put you back in a great mood.