When I first heard about this place, I just couldn’t wait to check it out. As its name enticingly advertises, this culinary combination of Northern and Southern specialties was worthy of a road trip to a small town some 45 miles and 60 minutes south of Nashville.
Columbia, a city of 35,000, is both the home of the annual Mule Day celebration and a former residence of President James K. Polk. In fact, Truelove’s Pizza & Grits, which opened in 2011, sits on the main highway through town right across the road from the remnants of the era-iconic Polk Motel.
I waited for the opportune moment to ask Mrs. Pie to make this pizza sojourn with me. Taking advantage of the Father’s Day weekend, she agreed to a Saturday afternoon journey south down Interstate 65. We arrived mid-afternoon to a small crowd that soon expanded upon the arrival of several local youth sports teams having post-game pizza and grits celebrations.
Truelove’s is really a cool place. There’s a big open area in front with tables and booths, an outdoor patio and a private indoor party room. The walls are decoratively lined with local artifacts. Orders are made and delivered from the counter. Judging by the lack of listing a plain cheese pie on the menu board, this is a toppings-driven pizza place that conveniently offers several pre-set compositions. Salads were the only other main menu item.
Cutting right to the chase, as I expected, Truelove’s pizza was about as authentic as the grits you would find in New Jersey. However, the pizza was decent and the grits were fabulous! This is by all means a delightfully fun local business that the Columbia community should be very proud of.
Unable to resist, we ordered the chicken & grits along with our large “off-menu” cheese pizza (a 16-incher for $12.75). Our plans to start with the grits failed after the server dropped them in route to our table. It later turned out that we absolutely loved them, even proclaiming that they were cheesy and actually tasted like pizza! Sharing this with our server, she surmised that they likely pick up some of the pizza flavor in the kitchen air.
I was a bit surprised that on this quiet afternoon that it took about 25 minutes to get our pie. However, overall the service was first class. Even though it had gotten pretty busy, we got a personal apology about the dropped grits. Mrs. Pie also got some extra salad that they refused to let us pay for. This was great Southern hospitality for sure.
As for the pizza, while not classic in any traditional sense, it was good and tasty in its own way. Cut into half-slices, the main disappointment was that the crust was dry and salty and not at all chewy. It was more akin to a saltine cracker than the usual foundation for a pizza. The cheese and sauce were certainly different from what you’d find on a usual NY slice. Unseasoned, the usual offerings were there on the table for use at your personal discretion. These ingredients were also in a balanced proportion and blended together nicely. Truelove’s pie was not a victim of the common over-cheesing in these parts. Mrs. Pie and I easily knocked off the whole thing not leaving a single crumb.
While this pizza was clearly cut from a different mold, it was good enough that I’d eat it again. I probably wouldn’t make this long journey again just for Truelove’s sake, but if I was in the area I’d stop by and repeat my combination order again. This offering of pizza and grits is a unique pairing that I doubt you will find anywhere else in the world!
What a great Fathers’ Day gift from my Sweetie!
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working on a Good Thing
Truelove’s Pizza & Grits
1144 Riverside Drive
Columbia, TN 38401