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August 2017

The 3 Best Places for Pizza in Gatlinburg

After mulling over topics to write about, I decided to finally rank my three favorite pizzas in Gatlinburg. Many times I’ve mentioned a few of these places, but I never really gave you an opinion of how I really felt about how they stacked up against each other–until now. I am going to rank them based on how I feel they’ve delivered in two different areas and then rank them, overall. What I am not going to do is rank them based on customer service, ambiance, or cleanliness of the restaurant. This is strictly how well they’ve executed the most popular Italian pizza pie. Here goes:

Toppings

3. Big Daddy’s

I ranked Big Daddy’s number 3 not because the toppings aren’t good; they are, but it did make for a greasier than normal pizza. We like to dab the excess grease off anyway, and we took our time with this one. The sauce is excellent with the marinara being made in-house; the cheese is also very good, and the pepperoni was also better than average, but let’s be honest, it’s pretty difficult to mess that up.

2. Smoky Mountain Brewery

If I was to rank these pizzas a few years ago, I may have ranked SMB third. But not this time. I am not sure if they changed up their pizzas a bit, but the first few times we ate here the toppings fell off way too easy and made it nearly impossible to dab without taking them off via the napkin. The toppings this previous visit were high quality; standing out were the unbelievably tasty garlic-roasted tomatoes that offered just the right amount of garlic and made the cheese and sauce stand out, even though I don’t believe they needed much help from the start, anyway.

1. Best Italian

It’s not often you can eat a pizza with just cheese on it and still feel like you’ve eaten the best. They certainly live up to its name in the pizza category. We ordered a pepperoni pizza the first two times we’ve visited, but we went with just extra cheese the last two visits, and boy, they really pile it on with the sauce complimenting it quite nicely. Throw in some seasoning and your taste buds will shift into overdrive. It deserves the number one ranking on my list of best toppings.

 

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Smoky Mountain Brewery personal pizza

 

Crust

3. Best Italian

This might surprise you, but I don’t have them number 1. They are still excellent; don’t get me wrong. However, it is still lacking that extra something that I want in a crust. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was just a bit on the soggy side this time. Overall, I have to give them merit based on what they’ve delivered in the past, so I docked them a little on that, but the flavor still shines through its weaknesses.

2. Smoky Mountain Brewery

This was hard for me. In the past, I might have told you that this was my favorite, despite the fact that it was a bit messy; however, what I loved was how buttery it tasted at the bottom–it was something I had never experienced before with a pizza. This is not a knock on them with this ranking. I actually enjoyed the crust more this time without the extra flavor on it; it was still nice and crispy, and I found myself (and my son) wanting to come back again to see if it still delivers like it did this last time.

1. Big Daddy’s

There’s something to be said about wood-fired pizza in a brick oven. Amazing. You simply cannot find a better crust in Gatlinburg working with those elements. You get the character in a pizza by eating a crust that’s a bit charred, but not in such a way that it’s burned. It is not. Big Daddy’s is ranked on Trip Advisor as one of the top restaurants in Gatlinburg, and I would have to agree with those people…at least as far as the crust is concerned.

 

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Big Daddy’s Pizza

 

My Top 3 Overall Are…

3. Smoky Mountain Brewery

I know what you’re thinking: How can you rank them third when you had them second on the toppings and crust? Well, that gives you a sense of how close these places are when it comes to picking a favorite. Remember: I picked Big Daddy’s third in toppings and first in the crust. It just depends on how much weight I placed on a category. Altogether, I love each and every one of these pizzas, and the Brewery–despite its great showing last time–has to be placed third, as difficult as it was.

2. Big Daddy’s

This is where I placed Big Daddy’s because they delivered so supremely on their crust. The marinara as a sauce was a real standout, plus they get bonus points for making it from scratch. I know many places around here make their ingredients in the back too; however, how many times can you really tell if it’s scratch made or not. Well, at Big Daddy’s you can, and it makes for a great pizza.

 

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Best Italian in the Elks Plaza

 

1. Best Italian

Number one is still Best Italian back in the Elks Plaza. They dropped off slightly last time, but it is still the same great pizza we remember when we took our first bite a few years ago. They are very generous with their toppings, and their crust is just good enough to make their pizza our favorite in Gatlinburg.

I can’t even begin to explain how ungodly difficult this was for me to compile. I think I changed my mind as I was writing this. Heck, I may even write a new post in a few months explaining how wrong I was with this list. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing this. Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more. I have more rankings I would like to do based on places to go for breakfast, and I would like to do one about steak after we’ve visited a few more restaurants. See you again soon!

 

 

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2017 Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival

This is the time of the year that some of the most famous hit songwriters in country music history come to Gatlinburg to perform. Many of them have written songs for legendary country artists including Garth Brooks and  Johnny Cash just to name a few. The now annual event is in its 6th year of entertaining tourists and locals with national and local songwriters. You will be hard-pressed to go anywhere from August 16-20 without hearing or being somewhere a songwriter is performing.

The Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival in Gatlinburg features 150 shows by over 100 different artists: some of which are local, and some will be coming from as far away as California. You can find these artists performing outdoors, in restaurants and hotels; most of which you can see without paying a ticket. There are three special events for the Songwriters Festival that you may not want to miss and are sure to be worth the price of admission.

Con Hunley will be singing some of his songs at the Glenstone Lodge on August 19 at 8 p.m. The East Tennessee native had a string of 20 songs that hit the charts in the 70’s and 80’s and continues to write songs today. You can still purchase tickets for his concert for $25 and doors will open at 6.

Sylvia is no stranger to the Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival, and she will be performing a matinee at the Glenstone Lodge at 4 p.m. prior to Con Hunley taking the stage. With her hit song, “Nobody”, she established herself as a major songwriter and musician in the 80’s. She also has a new album coming out, and joining her on stage will be her guitarist, John Mock.

The most famous songwriters coming to Gatlinburg for a ticketed event will be a songwriter for Johnny Cash, Jim Glaser; Bobby Tomberlin, Diamond Rio songwriter; Tony Arata, famous for “The Dance” by Garth Brooks; and Pat Alger, a multiple hit songwriter for Garth Brooks. This “Celebrity” round of songwriters will start performing at the Glenstone Lodge on August 18 at 8 p.m. This is sure to be a treat for anyone who has been a fan of country music or Garth Brooks through the years.

There are so many artists coming to Gatlinburg this weekend, it is staggering. I won’t list all the performers coming to town, but if you are one of the lucky ones who scheduled your vacation for this time, I recommend you check out the Songwriters Festival website at www.smswf.com to see the entire list of performers. Many of these performers are not household names in contrast to the ones I’ve mentioned, but they are looking for a little support and recognition by coming to this Festival, so take the time to listen to some great music; some will even enjoy having the pleasure to talk to someone who enjoyed their music. It’s a great gathering of artists you won’t want to miss.

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