The Sampler at
Big Woods Pizza Company

The local handcrafted brewpub on Molly’s Lane has crossed the alley and moved up to the main drag with the opening of their satellite venture, Big Woods Pizza Company in the first floor of the F.C. Tucker building in the heart of the Village of Nashville.

For all the thousands or, I suppose, millions of cars that go through it, Nashville is at heart a pedestrian town, best enjoyed afoot. Accordingly, I collected the wife, found parking somewhere within the town limits, and strolled in a leisurely fashion over to assay the pizza pies.

It’s a wonderful space, with lots of wood. A barn-board faced counter separates the large, comfortable dining room from the kitchen, where all the pizza magic happens in full view. The tables and chairs are of that sort of “made from tree-limbs” type that my wife is so fond of.
There’s even a small stage space in one corner, where, one can imagine, gifted young troubadours hammer out anthems on life’s great toppings, …er, topics.

My long time readers will know that I have a method for evaluating pizza, carefully devised over long years of rigorous testing, to wit: at each new pizza place I Sample, I order exactly the same toppings; this way, we establish a baseline of fair comparison between pies, so we’re not comparing pepperoni to anchovies.

Mrs. Sampler seems to think that this is just some kind of cheap trick to get pizza with only the toppings I prefer, with no compromise additions of things which really have no business on a pizza, like, say artichokes or olives, even though I patiently explain to her that it is all very scientifically thought out.

“Maybe they’ll make it half and half,” I say. (They will, of course.)
“That’s ok,” she says in that little voice that reminds me of someone, “You just get what you want….”

My regular test pizza is simple: sausage and mushroom, green peppers and onion with extra cheese. That’s what I call a classic, middle of the road pizza. Besides, I can’t change it now, because it would render my huge previous database of comparison pizzas utterly useless!

Now, it goes without saying that in a restaurant opened by a brew pub that the beer is going to be pretty good, and I admit to being a particular fan of their stout, but on this evening, I went another way and opted for the hand crafted, locally brewed premium root beer they have on tap. That’s right, root beer. It was delicious.

The salads are outstanding: a classic Caesar, the “Greek goddess” with kalamata olives and sliced Chevre, or the caprese; blobs of oh-so-fresh mozzarella with sliced tomato and fresh basil—yummy!
If you’re in a certain mood, and it’s probably a summertime thing, punt the pizza and go for the full entrée antipasto: Genoa salami,pepperoni, artichoke hearts, boiled egg, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, marinated red peppers, mozzarella, and pepperoncini peppers over a bed of mixed greens and Romaine lettuce; a feast fit for the emperor.

I was there to eat the pizza, so I went for the house salad, which was plentiful and scrumptious with tomato, cucumber, shredded cheese, and croutons on mixed greens with the house vinagrette. It tided me over nicely until the pie arrived, all warm and crusty and gooey and fantastic right from the oven.

We had the 10-inch “signature” size, but for a few more bucks, you can move up to the 16-inch “Sequoia.”

You can build your own pie by choosing from a grocery-list of ingredients: 15 veggies, 11 cheeses, and at least ten meats including lamb and morta della, the sausage that put the bologna in bologna.
It’s a sort of pay-as-you-go system.

Or, you can go for any one of several Specialty Pizzas on the Big Woods menu, including the “margherita”, the “kimosabe” or the “black and bleu”—Cajun Alfredo sauce, lamb, roasted red peppers, green peppers, red onion, gouda, and mozzarella. I’m going to have to go back and give that one a whirl.

Our pizza was tasty and fulfilling, and I seemed to enter a state of pseudo-bliss, calling to mind the ghosts of all those pizzas I’ve ever eaten, in a long unbroken chain back to the ancient of college days, and they were all chanting like choirs of aboriginal holy men, and they were saying: “There is no bad Pizza.”

“No Bad Pizza.”

“Just Pizza, and better Pizza.”

So, I gorged myself on pizza, got a little silly on fine root beer, and entertained my wife with many a witty bon mot and clever tale of things I’ve done and seen, and there was even a cute little box to take home a couple of slices for breakfast.

Walking slowly through the darkening summer streets of the little village in Peaceful Valley with my best girl on my arm and my belly full of marvelously pleasing and satisfying food, I reflected on just how good life sometimes can be.

And I was profoundly satisfied.