- IRIANA'S: Only the address has changed.
Not that we needed any more calories or any less exercise, but it sure is nice having our longtime favorite, Iriana’s Pizza, in its new home on the first floor of the Heritage West Building — just downstairs from the offices of the Arkansas Times. We’ve had several opportunities to sample their fare in the month since they opened their doors, and even with the new worn off, it’s still some good eatin’.
Located in a former art gallery, the new Iriana’s is a step up from the dark hole in the wall the place used to call home a block and a half up Markham. Featuring plate glass windows on three sides, with tables situated in a series of different rooms, the result is both bright and intimate, giving the feel of a cozy hometown pizza joint while cutting down considerably on the noise that can build in some of the more barnlike downtown restaurants.
Given that we’re usually dashing in for a bite at lunch, their daily deals on slices hit the spot. Available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the fold-them-in-half-big portions make for a stick-to-your-ribs noon feast, and at less than $2.50 per slice, you can get away with a little jingle in your pocket as well.
When it comes to ordering a whole pie, a personal favorite is their Sweep the Floor ($10.95 for a 10-inch), a hearty blend of cheeses, pepperoni, sausage, onions, olives and other goodies. Served with a not-too-sweet sauce, on a medium-thickness crust that strikes a perfect balance between crisp and chewy, it’s the winner we’ve come to know and love at the more-cramped Iriana’s we used to hoof it to. Also good are Iriana’s grinder sandwiches. Served on homemade French bread, they come in veggie, Italian (with Genoa salami, ham and mortadella), sausage and meatball. While they’re all a bit drippy for a lunch menu, take a few extra napkins and you’ll be fine. For a slightly less waist-expanding meal, try their salads (small: $2.20; big: $3.85). Though the lettuce is diced a bit small for our taste, and we balked at the idea of ham or cheese being $1.25 extra on the large (potentially pushing the price of large well past six bucks if you get both), it makes for a tasty lunch that won’t make you feel guilty about ditching the diet.
In the end, while we regret that there isn’t a fat-burning hike between us and Iriana’s anymore, we can’t complain about the pizza. As great as it ever was, in an even better location, the new Iriana’s is sure to stay a convenient favorite for the denizens of downtown.
201 E. Markham St.
(first level of Heritage West Building)
10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Inexpensive to moderate prices. All credit cards accepted. Beer and wine available.