Cumberland Avenue's bevy of dining delicacies drive both UT students and Knoxville natives alike to the few odd blocks of commercial territory known as the Strip.
With so many dining choices nestled in UT's bustling backyard, it is easy to see why many diners may be left clueless as to which down-home joint to wander into to satisfy their dinner cravings.
When deciding to venture to Cumberland Avenue in search of a dinner hot spot, one cannot go wrong by choosing one of the Strip's three pizza parlors.
When a craving for a greasy slice of cheese drifts from your head down to your watering taste buds and ultimately to your empty and churning stomach, the hunger-infused baffled state of which place to choose will only continue, as the Strip's three pizza parlors all serve up a savory slice. Each is vastly different from the next, but all commonly serve up a unique and tantalizing pie product. Deciding which is the best is no easy feat.
Slice of the strip set out to settle the ongoing dispute as to which pizza diner serves up the best sizzling slice on the Strip. With Stefano's Chicago Style Pizza, Oscar's Restaurant and the Mellow Mushroom all being stops along this pizza excursion, only one step remains: crowning the king.
- The best slice on the strip -
Best slice on the Strip: Oscar's Restaurant Don't let Oscar's Restaurant's small dive appearance deter you. This bare-walled joint serves up a savory slice that will have your taste buds singing with glee one bite into their unique and rich slices. The parlor boasts both sauces and pies seldom seen on any restaurant menu, let alone crafted to such perfection. Sauce choices range from a creamy Parmesan pesto to a roasted garlic-infused white Alfredo to an old fashioned red-based sauce.
Oscar's does it with flair. Tantalizing sauces are ladled ever so generously on the famous Oscar's complex crust, and the crisp outer layer gives way in a loud crunchy bite to a soft dough hidden inside which is equally pleasing, if not moreso, to the specialized sauces atop. This pie is then topped with gourmet cheeses. Gouda, feta, ricotta and fontina stray from the regularly-found mozzarella and add to the unique and ever so enjoyable taste. And, with 27 pizzas to choose from on the menu, diners are sure to find a pie to their liking.
- The best of the rest -
Most bang for your buck: Stefano's Chicago Style Pizza This pizza parlor specializes in cranking out Chicago style deep dish pies in nearly a flawless and flavorful fashion. When paired with wallet-friendly deals, Stefano's slices are truly a steal. Stefano's offers a wide range of weekly student specials, including the popular all-you-can-eat pizza and salad buffet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for just $5.99. A good price paired with a satisfying pizza product cannot be topped.
Fun and food, best atmosphere: the Mellow Mushroom Food is so much more than taste. It is about memories centered around a fanciful dish, whose flavors add to a night or evening to remember. No one knows this more than the Mellow Mushroom, and it is ever-apparent in this diner's inner atmosphere which seems to encourage laughter and fun. The bubbling unique ambiance which makes up the Mellow Mushroom's dining hall is filled with dazzling colors, a plethora of bright cartoon murals and artwork surrounded with several HD TV's, regularly blaring the sounds and sights of sporting events. Added to this ambiance are weekly fun activities such as bingo, trivia, live music and free poker.
Best Crust: the Mellow Mushroom Any feelings or doubts of an assembly-line pizza product, familiarly found in several chain restaurants like the Mellow Mushroom, fade with one bite into the crust of this pizza joint. The Mellow Mushroom famously bases its pizza on a Parmesan-sprinkled, oil-brushed crust which is cooked to a perfect golden brown. The crust packs a potent flavor all by itself. It's crisp on the outside, delivering a satisfying pop of a crunch, upon initial bite, with a savory baked smokey flavor that follows. Beneath this outer shell is an airy inner dough whose cloud-like texture brings the best of both worlds, crisps and soft, into one bite.
Best Sauce: Oscar's Restaurant Red sauces upon red sauces frequently top pizzas all across the country in a sheet of uniform flavor and texture. Oscar's Restaurant not only strays from this norm, but if offers a wide range of sauces not only unique but divine in taste. Sauces such as creamy Parmesan pesto and roasted garlic-infused white Alfredo offer a rich, gooey and creamy texture. The luscious yet savory flavor found within each bite propels these sauces from ordinary to extraordinary.
Best Deep Dish: Stefano's Chicago Style Pizza When venturing into the personable, homey parlor that is Stefano's you are opening the door to one thing: a great slice of deep dish. In fact, deep dish pizza makes up all of this joint's pizza offerings. From the most popular Windy City to a pie topped simply with pepperoni, Stefano's recreates this second city food in flawless fashion. This deep dish slice, resting on a wheat or a white dough crust, is rich, flavorful and packed with texture. Thick red sauces line the slice, topped with layer upon layer of baked, oozing strings of cheese with each bite. Savory and rich, this is a dense pie that is packed with flavor and volume.
When all that remains in your pizza box are fallen crumbs resting on puddles of grease-stained cardboard, hopefully you will reflect upon the pie that has just been consumed and be happily delighted by its excellence and taste. This satisfaction sought after by all pizza consumers is sure to follow any slice delivered or consumed on the Strip, as each of the three pizza restaurants offer its version of a savory American favorite, each different from the next.
Oscar's Restaurant takes home the crown as the best slice on the strip, but when it is all said and done, you cannot go wrong with any pizza offered by those pie serving spots on the Strip. Oscar's Restaurant, Stefano's Chicago Style Pizza and the Mellow Mushroom, simply put, all serve a tasty slice of pie.