If you live in Fort Smith, Van Buren, Greenwood or Alma long, you’re going to find yourself eating at Geno’s Pizza. This is because there are approximately 87 Genos locations in Fort Smith alone. Okay, so there’s like, six total in the River Valley. But we swear it feels like 87 because people are always eating there. This, to us, has long been a conundrum that keeps us up into the wee hours of the morning. Our basic question has always been: why?
We figured it’s the kids and the convenience. Cheap pizza, served by the oversized slice, on styrofoam plates in a place you don’t have to clean — that’s a family outing right there. No flavor required. And they have drive-thrus. Who doesn’t love eating a big slice of bland pizza while driving, talking on the phone and texting? Gimmee a slice of Supreme and a large Diet Coke, hold the pizza artistry please.
Every so often, though, we go back and try it again. Surely if there are this many locations of a local favorite, it’s got to be good, right? On a recent drive-thru visit when we were running late and super hungry and Geno’s was right next door, we decided to try the pepperoni sub. We’d tried the ham and cheese many moons ago, but the pepperoni sandwich was probably the one menu item we’d not yet sampled.
Eureka! (That’s a general exclamation of excitement, not a reference to Eureka Pizza, another local favorite). The aroma of this paper-wrapped meal hit us first. We’ve never been impressed with the pepperoni pizza at Geno’s. Their pepperoni slices are, we think, more or less on par with the pizza at Sbarro. Which is, by the way, another insanely popular chain of bland mall pizza by the slice that we have no idea why people frequent, except maybe that it’s kind to support the dyslexic (we’re convinced it’s supposed to be Orrabs, not Sbarro, since building a marketing plan for a national restaurant that starts with “Sb” is not something most bank loan officers would recommend).
This thing, however, smelled great even in the unwrapping.
The pimply-faced boy at the drive-thru had handed us our very first, bona fide, great experience at Geno’s. We wanted to kiss him for this, but that would have freaked out everyone involved.
Here’s what we found waiting for us when we un-swaddled this lovely, still steaming creation:
This may be a submarine sandwich, but when they cut them like this, we have Titanic flashbacks. Soon as the ship broke clean in half we knew Kate & Leo weren’t going to end up chasing each other around the old folks’ center begging for the other’s pudding. Just look at it. This sub will never float now! Head for the lettuce rafts, women and children first! Luckily, we have better things to do with this meal than play Doomed Sandwich Boats. It’s smelling too tasty.
The hoagie was fresh, soft and chewy with a crisp-crumbly crust. Just right. Inside we discovered layers of pepperoni, toasted mozzarella, a blast of rich tomato flavor, and lettuce that was cool and crunchy without even a hint of wilt about it.
Oh, unexpectedly good drive-thru food, how we cherish thee. Fresh bread sporting a gooey warm pepperoni and cheese center, with a crunch of lettuce and strong tomato flavor. Why can’t they make the pizzas taste this good?
We tried to savor it, really we did. Instead, we think we might have gobbled it down, possibly whole. Not the most attractive sight, but if you’re getting your kicks ogling us eating drive-thru sandwiches in the car, you live a more inscrutably boring life than we thought possible.
Plus, this was cheap and came with a very fine serving of Ruffles in a shiny primary-colored bag. Our Coke was similarly refreshing, just like the ads promised. And it was all for something like $5. Maybe not even.
So there you have it folks. Eat at Geno’s. Eat at Geno’s often. But unless you can convince us otherwise, stick with this sandwich.