So, this is a part of a series about 5 of my favorite, lesser known, Gatlinburg-area things. Now, I’ve saved the best for last. Seriously, you DO NOT WANT TO MISS this spot!!! I mean, yum!
So, wait until you’re really hungry. Maybe you’ve spent the whole day hiking and have worked up an enormous appetite. Or maybe you just skipped lunch to prepare yourself. The point being: come hungry. You’ll be so sad if you come already full.
Then get ready for a walk. We like to park in the aquarium parking garage, and if you do the same, you’ll have a decent hike. Enjoy a leisurely trot through Gatlinburg, enjoying the smells and sights, but NOT GIVING IN to eating anything, because you’re saving room. When you get to the end of all the touristy-type things, you’ll come to an area off to the left that’s an inset-type strip mall. Go in there. At the back, you’ll find The Best Italian Cafe and Pizzeria. The actual address is 968 Parkway — between traffic lights 8 & 9.
Now, don’t be put off. This place isn’t fancy-looking. It kind-of looks like a hole-in-the-wall, to be honest. But continue on in and take your first deep breath. Ahhh …. you’ll be thinking that the walk was so worth it.
The biggest choice — what to order?
The pizza is fabulous, billed as New York style, but definitely my favorite of the pizzas I’ve tasted in that category. It has a delicious buttery crust, and lots of big, juicy toppings! We love the supreme version — they call it The Best Deluxe Pizza ($24.99 for a 18″ large). We also tried the Brazilian Bechamel Pizza ($24.99 for an 18″ large) once, trying to be adventurous. I loved it! It has a white sauce with green peppers, onion, celery, chicken, red pepper, spinach, pineapple, banana peppers, Feta cheese, pesto, and spices! Wow!
But my true favorite are The Best Signature Garlic Rolls ($5.99 for a dozen. You can get half a dozen, but trust me — you want them all). Wow. I’ve been trying to recreate them at home with no success. They are amazing. Be sure to order enough — the first time we had them, we got only one per person, and I felt devastated when mine was gone! One could be tempted to make a whole meal of them, but don’t give in to this! (But do keep the dish around — there’s all this buttery, olive-oily, seasoned goodness in the bottom that is great to dip your crust into.)
Because you have to leave room for the calzones (see the picture above)! They look like a football and are close to the same size. They feed at least three, and man, are they good! We got ours with sausage and it was heavenly. It was baked to perfection, then stuffed with three kinds of cheesey goodness. Creamy and delicious. You won’t be disappointed. I promise. Here’s the official description: “Ricotta and freshly grated mozzarella cheeses wrapped in pizza dough, baked to a golden brown, and served with marinara or our original white sauce.” You can add whatever ingredients you want. ($10.99, plus $2.79 for each added ingredient).
The pasta is probably great too, but I’ve never tried it. (Pasta costs $14.49 for a spaghetti and meatball dinner, with a salad and 3 garlic rolls.) I’ve been way-laid by the pizza and calzones.
Of course, there are various salads and other appetizers, too. And a huge variety of pasta.
We visited in February and actually had to wait awhile for a table, so maybe the word is getting out about this great little find. We had a fabulous waitress — Teresa — who had been working there for a long time. She was friendly and helpful, and when we pointed out that she forgot to charge us for our sodas, she just winked at us. Yes, this place definitely has that down-home customer service. We’ll be back, and we’ll be asking for you, Teresa!
If you trust me on one thing, make it this: Don’t miss this stop!
So, have you been there? If so, add your praise! Consider it a community service — we really want to convince people to NOT MISS THIS PLACE!