In 1976, a proverbial mom-and-pop restaurant opened in Gatlinburg. A pair of Yankees moved south to set up shop in a thriving new tourist town. They noticed a lack of competition in the pizza industry and chose to build an entire business around their primary skill, re-creating the New York-style pizza.
Rather than act humble about their idea, this couple chose boastful tactics, populating their menu with self-proclaimed Bests such as best spaghetti and meatballs, best calzone, and the like. Their calling card became the signature pizza that was largely unknown to East Tennesseans at the time: the Big Apple variation of pizza.
While the food at The Best Italian on the Parkway has proven good enough to stand the test of time, it’s remarkably ordinary. No, it’s not cheap chain store pizza in terms of awfulness, but you’re going to pay upper tier prices here for undistinguished Italian food. The recipes haven’t changed much over the past 40 years, leaving the flavors woefully outdated and nondescript. Any dreams that you have of splendid sauces and perfectly melted cheese will turn into nightmares when the food splats on your plate.
On the plus side, the cocktails here are excellent, and savvy shoppers can save a lot of money eating here. Due to the ridiculous portion sizes, a couple or family can order a large pizza or calzone to share. While the food isn’t extraordinary, most people enjoy the overall dining experience. Everything is New York-sized and extremely fun.
Here are some favorites you’ll find on the menu:
- Calzone: Imagine a giant sea slug made out of bread. You now have a general idea of the size of the calzone here. Massive amounts of pizza dough entomb enormous mozzarella mounds. Three people can eat a full meal with a single calzone.
- New York style thin crust: Prepare for greatness. The “medium” is 16 inches long, while the large is 18 inches long. Each one has eight gigantic slices of thick, rich pizza dough, but the sauce is obviously the star. It’s not the best New York pizza you’ll ever eat, but it’s probably the finest in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area.
- Bloody Mary: Modesty isn’t the style here, as everything gets a “best in town” ranking. With the Bloody Mary, they’re right. Online critics obsess over the size and quality of these seemingly bottomless vodka cocktails.
- Many hotels and visitor centers in the area have marketing kiosks. Flip through these sections to see if you can find a buy-one-get-one-free coupon. Two adult portions can easily feed a family of four or possibly even five, depending on the age of the children.
- Also, try to eat here outside of the 6 p.m. rush. Since Gatlinburg skews towards families and an older demographic, people eat dinner earlier. You’ll fight for parking spaces, tables, and quality service prior to 7 p.m.