Where, pray tell, did we get this rule that says you can’t drink alcohol in the morning? What teetotaling deacon dreamed that one up? What starched-underpants spinster? What boring shut-in, still clinging to every word on C-SPAN for news of the triumphant reinstatement of Prohibition? Pshhht! There’s no better time to drink, we say. The morning is when you’re fresh, what with your tired old liver flushed of the previous day’s imbibements!
Whatever the reason, unless you’re a long-term guest at Miley Cyrus’ pool house, brunch has become the last judgment-free port for breakfast-time boozers. One of the more interesting spots for Little Rock a.m. drinkin’ in recent years has been the breakfast pizza brunch at U.S. Pizza. U.S. Pizza outlets serve their brunch menu only on Saturdays and The Lord’s Day, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. With a full slate of egg-based breakfast pizzas, gluten-free frittatas and dirt-cheap mimosas, Bloody Marys and bottled champagne, it’s the kind of wake-up call even a diehard snooze-buttoner can manage.
On a recent Sunday morning, while everybody else was parked soberly in church, we tried brunch at the Hillcrest location of U.S. Pizza. Though the place filled up considerably by the time we left, when we first got there a few minutes after they opened, Companion and I had the joint mostly to ourselves. Actually, the stillness of the dining room kind of perfected the moment. The day was crisp, traffic was light down Kavanaugh, and the autumnal street scene was lovely through the big windows next to our table. That two friends drifted in and joined us for breakfast soon after didn’t hurt.
From the four available breakfast pizza varieties (they’ve also got a “create your own” for $8.29 for a 10-inch or $10.29 for a 13-inch), we tried the bacon, spinach and tomato pizza ($12.49 for the 10-inch, $14.49 for the 13), which featured eggs, bacon, spinach, roma tomatoes, cheddar and mozzarella. We also got the 8-inch spinach frittata ($8.99), with red pepper, onion, eggs, chicken, spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan and a fruit cup on the side. Because we were writing a story about drinking, we also tried the mimosas ($2 each). We weren’t quite dedicated enough to the concept of getting dawn potted, however, to try the bottle of champagne ($6.99), which arrives at the table in an ice bucket with two glasses, and a carafe of orange juice.
The mimosa we sampled was dang fine, served in a decent-sized wineglass and featuring enough champagne that you could actually taste the alcohol, which is always a good sign when you’re paying for a drink. A couple of those on a Saturday morning would likely make a trip to the farmers market lots more fun. While breakfast pizza that doesn’t involve a styrofoam box from the fridge and a turn in the microwave might seem a little weird, it’s actually a pretty good way to eat the most important meal of the day. Built on a base of fluffy egg, it turns out to be something like an omelet with a crust — in this case, the thin and crispy crust U.S. Pizza is known for. While each slice was in desperate need of salt, pepper and a liberal amount of Tabasco sauce, we found a lot to like about it. Not enough to make us swear off pepperoni pizza, but it’s definitely a breakfast food more people should try. The frittata was similarly good, nicely browned where it counted and full of cheese, peppers and chicken.
In short, the U.S. Pizza brunch is a fun time out, and a decidedly different experience than the Denny’s Grand Slam or a stack of syrup-slathered pancakes from IHOP. If you’re out and about some weekend morning, it’s definitely worth a try. I mean, come on: pizza and champagne before everybody else in the world has brushed their teeth? What’s not to like?