Not that I won't still recommend the venerable Venesian Inn down the street, with its spicy sauce. Mama Z's, however, has its own charms.
You may recall I mentioned this place, both in my first book, Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State, and in my second, Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley. Indeed, the quick bite in the latter book mentioned the restaurant's claim to being registered amongst the classics of the region.
I've been to Mama Z's several times over the years, and my most recent
Then out came my dinner, delivered with the announcement of a single fat roll. This dinner took up an entire plate - two palm-sized chicken-filled ravioli, two fat meatballs, a pile of spaghetti noodles all under a beefy marinara.
But they were substantial. The plate didn't look all that large but dadgummit, I couldn't eat more than half of what was in front of me. It was just... deceptively heavy and filling. I took the rest back with me for breakfast (thank heavens I had that!) and felt good about it.
What I didn't have was dessert. Where would I have put it?
Which leads me to the tale of an earlier visit - almost six years earlier, to be precise. Grav and I were on a sweep through the northwest corridor, collecting pie stories for my upcoming piece on pie in Arkansas for the Arkansas Times. And while I'd dined at Mama Z's before, I had not had the pie - for precisely the same reason I didn't have pie last night - I was full.
At the time, Grav was going through a vegetarian stage, and we'd been going place to place with him griping that every Italian restaurant had only one thing for him - fettuccini alfredo. He was griping about this and I was about done with it. We get in, find out the menu didn't mention the meat-free marinaria I now know about - and he gripes.
So he gets pie. WE get pie. Two slices - coconut and chocolate. And they're delivered to us with a silly grin. It is 11 in the morning and our waitress finds it funny that we're only getting pie.
It wasn't silly at all. Because those pies...
Moreso, Grav was pleased and he got over being hangry about things. We dined at six other restaurants that day - I kid you not - but it was the pie at Mama Z's that put a smile back on his face.
So next time you venture into Tontitown, do yourself a favor and stop in at Mama Z's. The prices aren't bad, and the food is filling. And hey, you can get that pie to go. For more information, check out the Facebook page.