Welcome our new series, Ingredients. Here we explore some of the local fresh sources that many of Little Rock’s top restaurants use to cook your favorite dishes. This week, Pizzeria at Terry’s Finer Foods.
After purchasing a mobile pizza oven to compliment their decade-old catering business, Jacquelyn and Jeremy Pittman didn’t realize it at the time, but they had just made a decision that would take their business and cooking careers to new levels of success.
The decision to purchase a mobile pizza oven in 2012 was originally done in order to provide better service to their catering clients. An idea was devised to take the mobile pizza oven to local farmers markets, shop for fresh ingredients while setting up and then cook the pizza on site for those visiting the market.
“It was the Westover Hills Farmer’s Market that we started going to every Tuesday,” Jacquelyn said. “We could do a margherita and a prosciutto arugula, maybe a quattro fromaggi and then a market pizza where we would just shop the market and then make the pizza and we would sell 50 pizzas in two hours at the market. It was so much fun. We just created a following that way.”
The Pittmans knew a space was available to open a bar and pizzeria in Terry’s Finer Foods. A decision was made to take their mobile pizza oven concepts into a physical location and The Pizzeria was born.
There are a few ingredients in which they will not make exceptions for in lieu of locally sourced ingredients. For example, the flour at The Pizzeria are exclusively purchased and shipped from Italy. The Spanish chorizo is only purchased from Spain. Everything else is bought from local sources or local purveyors.
Italian sausage is from Hillcrest Artisan Meats. Many of the greens (i.e. kale, arugula, spinach) you’ll find at The Pizzeria are sourced from Arkansas Natural Produce, the Malvern-based farm in Hot Spring County. Eggs are purchased next door at Terry’s Finer Foods, usually sourced from Heritage Farm. Other seasonal produce such as strawberries are sourced locally as well.
One very special local product is used on the classic Neapolitan pizza, which features sauce, basil, oregano and dough. That product is none other than the Bonta Toscana sauce. The Pittmans decided to use this superior sauce on the signature Neapolitan pizza to help distinguish it from others on the menu.
Amy Bradley-Hole, owner and operator of Bonta Toscana, said that it’s a nice boost to have her locally made product featured at a local restaurant.
“It really helps get the name and the brand out there,” Bradley-Hole said. “It introduces my sauce to people who might not ever try it any other way.”
Bradley-Hole’s product is an item that is available for purchase in the grocery store at Terry’s, which is right next to The Pizzeria. “It’s not unusual for someone to try the pizza or the Bonta Sticks appetizer, then buy a jar right then and there,” Bradley-Hole said.
Being that the Pittmans’ restaurant is nestled in one of Rock City’s favorite neighborhoods, they have a close connection with many of their customers. In talking to some of their customers or even meeting potential customers at a farmer’s market, they find that some of them grow or produce local products as a hobby or know someone that has a great local product.
Jacquelyn cites an individual that operates Cypress Bend Honey as one of those valuable connections she and her husband are able to make just by talking with their customers and getting to know them. This customer manages beehives as a hobby and will frequently bring honey to The Pizzeria, which will later be featured in things like cocktails.
Local products will continue to manifest in The Pizzeria as the restaurant matures. The Pittmans will soon feature all-Arkansas beers on their taps, just in time for summer.