When you’re looking for authentic New York pizza in Arkansas, there’s only one place to go. That’s Deluca’s Pizzeria in Hot Springs. This humble spot has received acclaim for years for its specialty pizza pies and more, thanks to the talents of owner Anthony Valinoti, a Brooklyn native.
When it came to doing a Pizza Bucket List, the first restaurant was a no-brainer for AY Publisher Heather Baker and KARK host Carmen Rose.
As the pair head down to Hot Springs for a bite (or a lot of bites) of pizza, Valinoti is getting the stage set for them, cooking up a storm. He is not only preparing pizzas, but meatballs, salad and even cheeseburgers.
‘“We’ve got an incredible menu for them this afternoon. We’re going to start them off with some homemade ravioli, it’s my grandmother’s recipe that’s probably 125 years old, some homemade meatballs, a Caesar salad,” he says.
“We have two pizzas coming their way. Half a Patsy Search, half a Big Mike. The other one is going to be a Sidetown.”
The Patsy Searcy pie features spicy sopresatta, Calabrian chili oil, peppadews and honey. The Big Mike has meatballs and Boar’s Head pepperoni, while the Sidetown has buffalo and whole milk mozzarella over tomato sauce.
But he’s not stopping there! There’s still Deluca’s famous cheeseburger to consider. “We have probably, the biggest surprise ever out of a pizzeria, is one of the best cheeseburgers anybody’s ever going to have anywhere in these United States. I say that without ego – it’s just that good,” he says.
“It’s a big, big, big menu that they’re going to eat today, and I hope they enjoy everywhere as much as we’re going to enjoy making it.”
As Valinoti and his crew prepare the pizzas, both Baker and Rose marvel at the expert way they toss and cook the pizza.
“They’re up there, tossing the dough. It’s fabulous. Look at this, New York-style,” Rose said.
“True New York-style,” Baker says. “They have the hot ovens in there. It takes two seconds to make an order.”
Once everything is at the table, that’s when the party really gets started. The duo begins the meal with pizza, taking bites of spicy and sauce-laden pies.
“This is awesome. Love the New York style. I like the thin crust but the dough is what makes this pizza,” Rose says. “Seriously, fantastic. I’m coming to Hot Springs all the time now.”
“This pizza is amazing,” Baker says.
For Baker, the cheeseburger is worth the drive all alone. She encourages customers to get the cheeseburger as a starter before the pizza – that way you can fit everything in! “That burger, order as an appetizer before your pizza. Amazing,” Baker says.
“This burger and cheese – I’ve never had a burger better. This is fantastic. We’re in a pizza joint, and the burger is bomb,” Rose says.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Brooklyn pizzeria experience without the right dessert. That’s right – they had some delicious cannoli to finish out the meal.
“This meal has been incredible from everything on the plate. You need to make a trip to Hot Springs,” Baker says.
Next week, Baker and Rose will be continuing the Pizza Bucket List tour. Check back to see where they go!