The original Best Italian’s outward appearance is a bit deceiving. As I said, the original Best Italian is almost hidden away off the main Gatlinburg Parkway. A painted sign on a building on the busy, main drag points an arrow toward the rear of the Elks Plaza shopping block in the general direction of the original location of the Best Italian--but, the strip mall like, dated buildings offer no indication of what diner’s find inside. I’ll be honest--I was a little hesitant from the outside. Since we try to never judge books by their covers--and have found too many dining gems in strip mall, storefront roughs--we headed inside with our three daughters.
My first thought as I entered the restaurant? Hmmm. Not what I was expecting. We were greeted immediately by the restaurant’s hostess--and the interior immediately transported us from the dated street existence to a warm, inviting family restaurant. Although it was nearing dinnertime, there was not a waiting list and we were offered our choice of booth seating or large tables. With little ones--we have become attached to the enclosure offered by a booth and were seated in a little secluded alcove away from the main restaurant seating.
How was the service at Best Italian? The hostess was extremely accommodating--and told us immediately that everything on the menu was good so we couldn’t go wrong with our orders. Since we were sort of secluded from the main restaurant seating and we were seated only a few minutes before Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware suffered a game halting leg injury in the game against Duke--we went unnoticed by our server for a bit longer than I would have liked. After we caught his attention, he was almost overly attentive!
How was the food at Best Italian? After all, we visit restaurants for quality food, right? My husband had been told that we absolutely needed to try The Best Signature Garlic Rolls and pizza was on the mind of each of our three girls. We opted to order the Garlic Rolls and a large Best Deluxe Pizza. What did we think?
The Best Italian Signature Garlic Rolls
The warm, oven baked rolls arrived topped with olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, and a blend of herbs, spices and fresh grated Parmesan & Romano cheeses. Be sure to grab a roll loaded with cheese (or add a little from the table top shakers)--and dip into the olive oil and herbs that drip off the bread into the bottom of the serving basket. The Best Garlic Rolls are a must try if you visit.
The Best Deluxe Pizza.
We ordered an 18 inch large Best Deluxe Pizza for our family of five after a full day of running around Gatlinburg and only a quick breakfast in the condo. The thin New York Style crust was perfect with loads of pepperoni, sliced Italian sausage, beef, fresh sliced onion, green and red pepper, Mushrooms, and Black Olives. The vegetables were all very fresh and still crisp-tender. The pizza was so loaded with toppings that we needed a takeout box and we were able to save leftovers for our next day’s picnic.
Would we recommend the Best Italian restaurant’s original location in Gatlinburg? Yes--even if you simply order takeout--you need to try both the pizzas and the popular garlic rolls. If you visit, be sure to note that the restaurant automatically adds gratuity to bills for parties of five or more--and expect leftovers! There is a children’s menu (and my middle daughter has already decided that the fettucine alfredo will be hers on our next visit!) The restaurant does operate a second location in the heart of the Gatlinburg Parkway--and is also affiliated with Howard’s Steakhouse and the Wild Boar Saloon.
Check the Best Italian Website for more information and for special offers like parking vouchers and discounts.
Disclosure: We were not compensated by the business or brand featured here. We just simply found a great spot and wanted to share it with our readers!