Pizza for Grownups

Story by Johnny Sain

Photo by Liz Chrisman

Nonna Bella’s Pizzeria

717 South Arkansas Ave, Russellville

As a Gen Xer, pizza was the food of choice for me and all of my contemporaries. I don’t recall much debate about “good” pizza vs “bad” pizza. Chain restaurant, school lunch, gas station hot box, from the freezer at home — all pizza was “good” pizza.

It was pizza, after all.

But here in the middle-age years, our tastebuds are more sophisticated. A generation who scarfed cartons of Totino’s washed down with Mountain Dew and followed with a Twinkie has finally realized that there are standards for good pizza.

Nonna Bella’s Pizzeria in Russellville has gone far beyond those standards.

Nonna Bella’s has a limited delivery/takeout menu of pizza and wings for now as COVID precautions are still in the works for a safety-first dine-in experience. But the options are tasty beyond belief and plenty to keep you coming back. For starters, the wings are delectable — meaty and seasoned perfectly. Honestly, you could make a meal of the wings and be fully satisfied.

But the pizza… oh my.

We sampled the signature Nonna Bella pie — linguica sausage, pepperoni, Italian sausage, black olives, mushrooms, Italian cheese blend layered on traditional red sauce and an unbelievable crust. It was an earthy, traditional combo that tasted familiar but wildly richer than any pizza you’ve experienced before.

And then there was the Granchio. That incredible Nonna Bella’s crust — somehow both crispy and chewy — topped with butter-poached seafood/crab, prosciutto, baby spinach, and cherry tomatoes on a creamy garlic sauce. It was an explosion of flavor, a blending of textures, a piquancy paired with creamy smoothness simply unexpected in a pizza.

It’s pizza for the discerning palate. l