Deluca’s Pizzeria

Try perfected Neapolitan style pizza and much more

By Brad Hudgens, photography by Richard Rasmussen

By Brad Hudgens, photography by Richard Rasmussen

8:28 p.m. … Sitting out on my deck.

Who doesn’t love pizza? I’ve eaten pizza from at least a hundred different restaurants, and have tried at least a few hundred different styles/combinations. My least favorites have had cardboard tasting crust, too thick crust, flavorless toppings and rubbery cheese. I’m sure you’ve had those same pizzas. Of course I’ve had many great pizzas in Hot Springs, but if you haven’t tried Deluca’s Pizzeria, you may not have tried amazing pizza! Proprietor Anthony Valinoti learned the art of Neapolitan style pizza while spending time in Italy, and you can certainly taste the quality.

Food from Deluca’s will steal a pizza your heart! Anthony has extended the menu, adding some excellent salads/appetizers and desserts as well. My absolute preferred salad is the Buffalo Caprese Salad with the mozzarella di bufula (buffalo) cheese from Napoli. This cheese is stunning, particularly with the awesome tomatoes that Anthony procures. This salad is served with fresh basil on a wooden block. To find buffalo cheese this good from anywhere else, you would have to roam the world. This is a perfect place to celebrate Hot Springs’ Buffalo Days, and in 200 years, we’ll have a bisontennial.

Another popular salad is their Gorgonzola Salad. This salad uses Arkansas natural spring mix with delicious Gorgonzola. The Arugula Salad is also tasty.

Another great start is Nanny’s Antipasto Platter. For one or two persons, this comes with mortadella, prosciutto di Parma, spicy sopressata, genoa salami, olli salami, fresh mozzarella (different from the buffalo), Gorgonzola cheese, Kalamata olives, peppadews and breadsticks. Anthony searches the world for the best meats and cheeses for this platter, and of course for the pizza. I’ll always say that Deluca’s is a top place to meat …DELUCA'S PIZZERIA

Let’s talk pizza! Early on, Anthony used a specific recipe for his crust. Based on Arkansas humidity and other factors, he played around with this and later perfected his hand tossed thin crust. The result is thin, crispy and flavorful. I will sometimes
ask for the crust extra crispy, based on personal preference. He’s very much a perfectionist when it comes to crust and toppings on his pizzas. Anthony is a fun and cool guy, definitely not a weird-dough …

The toppings also set Deluca’s pizza apart from others. You can custom order your toppings, or you can select from among several  “designer” pizzas. Many of these started as someone’s customized pizza and then became regulars on the menu. All pizzas have two kinds of mozzarella cheese, Parmesan reggiano (a high-end Parmesan), extra-virgin olive oil, homemade tomato sauce and fresh basil. Several pizzas on the menu are named for local patrons after being “invented” by them. A couple of the most popular creations includes “The Gooch Pie,” named after banker Don Gooch. This pie has calabrase (a type of hard, spicy Italian sausage, like pepperoni), garlic, peppadews and fresh arugula is added to the pizza after cooking. The freshness is evident! “The Sarah Meadows Pie” (named after a local trainer) is an all veggie white pie made with portabella mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, garlic and green goddess pesto. There’s not mushroom for improvement with this pizza …

One of my favorites is “The Consigliere Pie,” I assume named from Tom in The Godfather. This pizza has buffalo cheese, garlic, Peppadew peppers and the meat of your choice. Deluca’s meats truly are special, and are mostly imported. Prosciutto
di parma and pancetta are additions beyond the meats mentioned in the antipasto platter. Another meat option, imported from across town, is McClard’s BBQ beef. Anthony’s friend Scott McClard supplies this world famous topping. Order “The Consigliere;” it’s an offer you can’t refuse.

*ADVANCE FOR GO!* The Buffalo Caprese Salad at Deluca's Pizzeria.

Deluca’s offers numerous craft and common beers along with several good wines. There are a few good desserts too, sometimes having homemade pie and also cannoli; take the cannoli. The atmosphere is comfortable, and the theme of the restaurant says Manhattan.

The restaurant has become a popular stop, so dough reservations are advised, especially on weekends. Each dough ball is pre-prepared and allowed to rest and rise earlier in the day, and when they’re out, they’re out. Anthony kneads reservations. Sorry for the cheesy pizza puns, but no matter how you slice it Deluca’s is fabulous pizza, and quickly becoming epic!

9:35 p.m. … Wishing we had endured a colder winter. The insects are already bad this year!

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