by Kat Robinson
Let me start out by saying… Damgoode Pies just might have the best morning-after pizza around. Hot or cold, one of their stuffies is like the perfect hand-held accompaniment to coffee with a little cream, just enough spiciness to pull you out of the mental ether.
That’s not saying Damgoode is the be all and end all of pizza. I have other favorites. But without putting that out there up front I’m not being fair to the local chain.
Went with friends last night (who poked fun at me for pulling out the camera, no sweat, I’m used to that) for a nice Sunday night wind-down. Brought my daughter along. Hunger was burbling all around, and it didn’t take long for us to figure out what we wanted.
To keep the girl child from potentially gnawing off my arm (the girl was pretty hungry) I ordered up some Fred Bread ($5.95). This is a split pizza dough roll smeared with the house Pesto Sauce (full of basil, garlic and pine nuts), each piece topped with a slice of fresh tomato and Mozzarella, all served up with a cup of house Red Sauce. There are a lot of pestos out there I don’t like. This one made the grade. The almost minty fresh basil didn’t overwhelm the other ingredients within and all matched well with the pizza dough and tomato. The Red Sauce to me was unnecessary, but I suppose we’ve all become so accustomed to dipping our appetizers that something needed to be there. What little I got of the Fred Bread was good; my daughter decided that she needed and wanted it, and kept spearing the cut-down portions I divvied up for her. She ate almost all of that order. It wasn’t too long until I got what was my big leap of faith of the evening.
Rather than go for one of my favorites from the menu, I decided to try a Margie ($4.50 personal, $9.45 for a 10 inch, $16.95 for a 14 inch). Alas, hand-tossed was not available in the personal size, and Margies don’t come in Stuffies, so I ended up with a thin crust personal pizza. Anyone who doesn’t believe cracker crust is a style of pizza in Arkansas… well, hasn’t been here and ordered a thin crust. The crust was almost exactly like a saltine cracker, with just a little less salt and an absence of baking soda. It was crisp enough to remain crisp throughout the short table time of said pizza.
Unfortunately, dear old Margie could use a little beefing up in the bread department. Her meager toppings (Parmesan cheese instead of Mozzarella, roasted garlic and olive oil instead of red sauce, chunks of fresh basil and tomato) really do call for more of a hand tossed or bruschetta type base. The roasted garlic (whole cloves) overwhelmed the cracker crust, and her thin contributions did not fill my belly. Well, it was an experiment.
I thought about charming one of my fellow diners out of their more ample offerings, but passed. Most had gone for stuffies, many had gone for The Hog (Pepperoni, homemade sausage, Canadian bacon, bacon and cheese) and the rest had gone towards Supremes. I decided hunger was the better part of valor (yeah, don’t know where that statement came from but what the heck?) and ordered a 10 inch Stuffy Underdog in a box to take home and share with the hubster later.
And that… that’s what I should have ordered in the first place. Darn me and my need to expand my pizza-lovin’ palate. Because frankly, I love the Underdog. Its ground beef, red and yellow bell peppers, black olives, onions, Cheddar cheese and Pink Sauce check almost every box of my pizza-lovin’ desire. This is the one pie Damgoode does that truly makes the Stuffy experience worthwhile to me. I had no problem shelling $3 extra over to have my pie choice encased in another layer of crust with Pink Sauce on top (it brought my six slice 10 inch pie up to $13.95) because it’s just how this concoction needs to be. That’s not to say I don’t like the hand-tossed version… I most certainly do.
Now, there’s something you do need to know about Damgoode Pie’s pies… just about everything I have ever had from them that included garlic (including the Pesto Sauce on that Fred Bread) is strong with garlic. I have no problem with garlic. I don’t even mind when the hubster consumes mass quantities of it. But it’s something to be warned about in advance, like an aunt who wears too much old-lady perfume. If you don’t like garlic… well, Damgoode is just not for you.
There’s one other thing, too. I’ve noticed that there seems to be two camps of people concerning pizza in Little Rock… people who love Damgoode Pies and swear by them, and people who far prefer U.S. Pizza Company. The differences between the pizzas are considerable, especially since U.S. Pizza Company tends to get its typical thin crust packed with a different sort of flavor that’s far away from Damgoode’s saltine sort. I’m sure this has potential to start another argument. Fine. Fire away.
Oh, there are several Damgoode Pie locations around. You’ll find the one I went to last night up on Cantrell Road catty-corner from SteinMart (next to Casa Manana). There’s one on Kavanaugh in Hillcrest, a carry-out and delivery-only location on Rodney Parham, even one in Fayetteville now. For all Little Rock orders, it’s one number -- (501) 664-2239. Or you can check out their website.