Rumbles: Layla’s North Little Rock, Blue Plate Special Dinner, Little Italy Festival Sunday

There wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare, but Layla’s Gyros and Pizzeria has opened its third location in Central Arkansas. This one is in North Little Rock on E. McCain Blvd. near the Walmart Supercenter. If you’ve never been (and you should fix that if so), Layla’s is not only one of the best Mediterranean restaurants in Arkansas, but it’s also one of the least expensive. Most of the menu is under $10, and the portion sizes go far beyond generous. Layla’s is also located on Rodney Parham Rd. and further west on Cantrell Rd. Layla’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, though it does close at 5 p.m. on Sundays.

The annual Blue Plate Special dinner returns this weekend to The Capital Hotel with an all-star line-up of Little Rock chefs. Ten chefs will serve up special plates for the event, include Capi Peck of Trio’s, Amanda Ivy of Sauce(d), Gilbert Aliquinez of Forty Two and many others. Tickets to the event are $100, and of course it’s all for a great cause. The Blue Plate Special goes to benefit the Thea Foundation, which works to ensure that all Arkansas children have access to the arts in school. In fact, 12 artists will attend the event as well, including musicians Rodney Block and Amy Garland Angel, glass artist James Hayes, and artist Matt McLeod. The event runs from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday. There are still tickets available, so be sure to make your reservations as soon as possible.

The 91st running of the Spaghetti Dinner and Bazaar in Little Italy is this Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. It’s held at St. Francis Catholic Church in Little Italy (or Roland) and features the same spaghetti and Italian sausage lunch that has been popular for decades. In addition, there will be plenty of games for the family, a bake sale and a silent auction to benefit the church. Adults and children ages 13 and up pay $12 for admission; children ages 6-12 get in for $6. Kids under 6 eat free. This is always one of the most enjoyable festivals in Arkansas each year, so make plans to be there this Sunday.

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While one Little Italy festival turns 91, another is celebrating its fifth birthday. Bruno’s Little Italy opened in downtown Little Rock in October 2013. Of course, Bruno’s has been around much longer than that. The venerated Italian eatery first opened its doors in 1947 in Levy as Little Italy Café. Less than two years later, the restaurant moved to Roosevelt Rd. and became Bruno’s Little Italy. The restaurant has moved several times over the years, but it would be a surprise to see it leave downtown any time soon. Bruno’s makes plenty of traditional Italian-American dishes, including pizzas, pasta with red sauce and one of the best antipasto plates you can find anywhere.

The new location for Deluca’s Pizzeria in Hot Springs is ready for business. On Friday, Deluca’s will open its new spot at 831 Central Ave., completing the move from Park Avenue where it has served up the state’s best pizza for the past five years. The new location features expanded seating and considerably more space in the kitchen; if you’ve ever seen the back of the old Deluca’s, you know how amazing it is that Anthony Valinoti and his staff managed to serve a packed house day in and day out. We promise we will make it down to Hot Springs soon and get you a look at the new place.

There might not be a faster-growing neighborhood than SoMa at the moment. This week we previewed the district’s next new establishment called Atlas Bar.

Moody Brews is back in Little Rock! We previewed the first two beers you can expect to see from Josiah Moody and checked out what’s going on around town in this week’s Growlers feature.

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Rumbles: Layla’s North Little Rock, Blue Plate Special Dinner, Little Italy Festival Sunday