Knoxville, about a three-hour drive east from Nashville on Interstate 40, is a city that The Pizza Snob has seldom visited. Recently, my son, The Philosopher, and I made a trip there to see Elvis Costello at the drop-dead gorgeous historic Tennessee Theatre. This gave me to chance to knock another pizza joint off of my recommendations list. K-town’s The Tomato Head has been on my radar ever since the band Grizzly Bear bragged about it when I saw them play in Nashville. After finally giving it a try, all I can say is that I would have thought these guys from Brooklyn would have better taste in pizza. While The Tomato Head looks to be a fine all-around restaurant, their pizza is nothing worthy for the band to write home about.
The Tomato Head has two Knoxville locations. We set out to visit the one in the Market Square near the theatre. The Market Square is a cool downtown spot where a city block of restaurants, bars and shops is separated by a wide pedestrian area where the street normally would be. Arriving for an early dinner, we walked into the spiffy modern place past the fancy wine bar. We were soon seated at a table in the large dining room in view of one of the largest pizza ovens I have ever seen.
After some fabulous salads, we started in on a 14 inch plain cheese pie that set us back only $9.45. I was impressed to learn that during lunch hour they offer slices for $1.60—one of the best slice prices I’ve ever seen. However, even at these great prices, Tomato Head’s pizza is disappointing.
At first glance, I was surprised that they even got sloppy and failed to cut our pie symmetrically. It was quite puffed up in the dough department covered with shredded parm. By Snob rules, parm on top should always be an option. Flavor wise, despite this parm overload, it tasted downright flat except for the rather tart-tasting tomato sauce. The crust wasn’t the least bit crisp and the pie was heavy on all counts. In addition to the usual culprits of excess dough and cheese that have ruined many a pie, there was even too much sauce.
Unhappy, I had enough and quit after eating just three slices. On the other hand, probably since he lately has eaten one too many frozen pizzas, the pie-deprived Philosopher thought it was great. He also liked their menu of local beers.
As for me, I left feeling bloated and don’t plan on coming back. These guys need to do some homework about making a pizza more up to the standards of their restaurant.
PIZZA SNOB RATING **1/2 Not a Total Waste
The Tomato Head
12 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902