We have kept a close eye on the progress at Sauced Bar and Oven over the last few weeks. It is the next bright spot in the west Rodney Parham food scene, an area that is quickly becoming one of the strongest in the city. All the equipment is in place, chairs are unwrapped, and training is taking place as we speak. The opening date is shaping up to be Monday, May 21st for dinner only with lunch and brunch options to follow a few weeks after.
As you walk in the door you will find the space evenly split down the middle with an open kitchen and pizza oven on one side and a large bar on the other. All of the seating is extremely comfortable, they took a lot of care in picking out spots that people want to stick around in. TVs line the bar and are dotted around the restaurant space, making it easy to watch a game or quickly check the digital tap menu.
There has been a bit of discussion from the beer geeks in town, especially our friend John the Beer Snob, about what the final tap list (found here) will look like. We got ahold of what should be the opening day list (always a chance for last minute changes), and they held true to the promise of being a very craft beer heavy spot. 16 of the 27 taps are local craft coming mostly from Rebel Kettle, Stone’s Throw, Flyway, Lost Forty, and Bubba Brews. Of the remaining only 6 are mass market domestics. There are even some gems in here like the very last kegs in the state of Victory Golden Monkey, which pulled out distribution a couple of months ago. They plan to continue to keep some hard to find beers on tap and a heavy craft, and local craft at that, focus with the menu.
Food wise, everything is shaping up very solid. We would expect nothing less out of the rock star crew that they have assembled manage the kitchen. We profiled the big names in the kitchen here a few weeks ago, even since then they have added even more quality to their staff. I cannot stress enough, I think this is the best opening staff ever for a spot in Little Rock.
The test run pizzas we have had put it on par with some of the best pies in town. Think Neapolitan style with house cured meats and the best cheeses available. You are not going to come here for your pepperoni lover’s stuff crust pizza, it is very much a craft pizza menu. That focus bleeds over into their charcuterie boards, sandwiches, and other menu items. The quality and attention to detail really shows, especially in the meats.
The approach of taking familiar dishes in Little Rock and significantly bumping up the quality with different takes on the dish extends into other menu items we have sampled as well. The burrata for example is smoked in house, the addition of smoke gives it a very unique flavor that is different from any other that we have had. Their house made meatballs are rolled with mozzarella in the middle and served in sauce with an egg on the side. It is completely different than the way others are doing it.