Does the title have you in shock? It should. Pizza Café, both the west Little Rock and Rebsamen Park locations, is practically a Little Rock food institution. All I can say is that sometimes, some places just slip through the cracks. That all ended recently after several readers on my personal blog shamed me into going. Truth be told, I am glad they did it. I needed to visit Pizza Café. As a person who prides himself in covering the entire Little Rock area food scene, its omission from my coverage was inexcusable.
So, last Friday night I placed my takeout order of a Sunshine Salad, cheese bread, Char-grilled Chicken & Provolone Sandwich, and Deluxe Take-N-Bake Pizza and headed over to the Rebsamen Park location. What I found was a cozy interior (not in use for dine-in) and an even cozier outdoor deck with a few diners scattered about. I liked the setting, but more importantly, I could see why so many people are so loyal to this restaurant. It has a vibe that is easy to fall in love with.
As for the food?
That was more of a mixed bag, but in the end, I think most of my issues lied in preference rather than quality and execution. My Sunshine Salad, comprised of mixed greens, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, diced green bell pepper, mozzarella, sunflower seeds, croutons, and a thick, creamy vinaigrette, proved to be satisfying. I particularly enjoyed the combination of thinly sliced zucchini with the crunch of the sunflower seeds. The half-order of cheese bread was somewhat disappointing. I was expecting a bit more than a slightly sad looking half a hoagie roll with some cheese and a side of marinara. Even at $4.25, it felt overpriced. The Char-grilled Chicken & Provolone Sandwich is a sandwich I could see myself ordering again. The chunks of chicken breast, although a touch dry, had a wonderful char-grill flavor that proved to be a perfect pairing with the cheese, honey mustard, and soft roll.
As for the pizza?
This is where preference really comes into play. While I am not the biggest fan of thin crust, there’s no denying the strong execution of this pizza. It was thoughtfully prepared and not thrown together in a rush, as evident by the plentiful, evenly distributed toppings (mozzarella, beef, pepperoni, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and black olives). The flavored, braided crust was also a highlight. And yes, I did eat my “bones” with the included honey packets. All and all, the take-n-bake option, complete with a one-time-baking pan and instructions, was something I will definitely do again in the future. It was good enough to inspire a return visit to Pizza Café for an in-house experience.
And by “in-house,” I mean that deck.
1517 Rebsamen Park Rd
Phone: (501) 664-6133
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Pizza Café West
14710 Cantrell Rd
Phone: (501) 868-2600
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.