Pizza has evolved big-time since its modern emergence in Italy more than a century ago. As Italians from different regions left their homelands, they brought their ideas about what a pizza should be with them. From there, styles continued to change to please local palates.
In the United States, no less than 10 local variants have emerged. Most regions with historically large populations of Italian immigrants have their own style. From Connecticut’s “white” New Haven-style to Chicago’s deep-dish with sauce on top, to the crispy, Provel-topped pizzas of St. Louis, differences can be vast. New York-style’s thin crust, though, is probably the one most widely known and emulated. Hand-tossed, lightly sauced, and cut into foldably large slices, it holds a special place in the heart of its proponents.
Fat Daddy’s has brought that beloved pie to Chattanooga. The walls, adorned with photos of famous Yankees and New York City landmarks, let you know as soon as you enter that you won’t be getting any of those “other” styles. The manager is even a New Yorker. As a matter of fact, the only way to tell you’ve not been transported the better part of a thousand miles is the ample seating room, which is mostly nonexistent in its New York cousins.
Like any good pizzeria, Fat Daddy’s starts with only the freshest ingredients. The dough is made from scratch, as is the sauce. A trip through a brick oven heats each pie to just the right temperature for a crust that’s crisp on the edges, and chewy throughout, with bubbling cheese atop.
All the toppings you might imagine and more are available on a huge number of specialty pizzas. Options range from traditional offerings like “The Big Bambino” (pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, beef, green peppers, onions, black olives, mushrooms, and tomatoes) to off-the-wall choices like the “Chicken Wing Pizza” (chicken and cheddar cheese atop a blue cheese base)—to say that there’s a pie to suit any taste would be to understate the case. Fat Daddy’s even offers a gluten-free crust!
Just because you make a great pizza doesn’t mean you can’t do even more. As you might guess from the aforementioned pie, chicken wings are an option, and calzones and cheese bread are available. Hot subs, like Chicken Parmesan and Steak and Spinach, are presented, as are cold cuts like salami, my personal favorite. You can even finish your meal off with honest-to-goodness Clumpie’s ice cream.
On my visit, I stuck with pizza, choosing “The Manhattan,” Fat Daddy’s trademark pie. Copious amounts of pepperoni and sausage were joined by green peppers, onions, and black olives, the vegetables popping with freshness against the spicy meats. Feta cheese added a tangy touch and creaminess to go along with the stringing mozzarella. The whole package was tied together nicely with just the right amount of flavorful sauce, and was just about all you could ask for folded within that amazing crust.
Even if you’re not bringing the family to split an 18-incher, Fat Daddy’s can hook you up for lunch. From opening until 4 p.m., they have five options for just five dollars, from two slices and a drink, to an antipasto salad with breadsticks and a beverage, and a full 10-inch personal pie. Once you’ve had a taste and start raving to your co-workers, they’ll be glad to discover that Fat Daddy’s will also handle large custom orders, so long as they’re called in with plenty of advance notice.
There’s really nothing like an authentic New York-style pizza. If you’ve never had one, you should definitely stop by Fat Daddy’s and give it a try—and if you have, you’re probably already on your way, aren’t you?
Fat Daddy’s Pizza and Ice Cream, 5084 South Terrace (close to The Rave). Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call (423) 468-6800.