If you’d like the short version of this review, Hard Knox Pizzeria makes some of the most interesting and delicious pizza I’ve ever had, the service is friendly and fast, and except for one thing, I would work the place into our restaurant rotation. As it stands, however, I have absolutely no intention of eating there again.
My team at work recently celebrated the birthday of one of our coworkers. Given a choice of where to eat, she chose Hard Knox. My primary concern was whether we could fit our whole team at a few tables, so I left a bit early and we managed to put three tables together to make room for everyone. Everyone else arrived and ordered just before the lunch crowd arrived.
I’ll tell you, right off the bat, I was pleased with the service. The young lady who took our order was friendly and cute. I asked her for a recommendation for a good pizza with white sauce, and she gave me one. Once everyone was seated, she even brought out a pepperoni pizza for the group to sample while we waited for our pizzas to be prepared. That’s pretty nice. The pepperoni pizza was very good, albeit not exactly what I’m looking for in a plain pepperoni pizza. What I mean by that is if I’m just getting pepperoni, I’d rather have a deep dish pizza to make it a little more interesting, and Hard Knox pizza is a thin, wood-fired crust. Delicious - just a little on the plain side.
Realizing I wanted something a little more interesting, I happily accepted the young lady’s recommendation for the Great White Hope. Pesto cream sauce, mozzarella, marinated chicken, shaved parmesan, crushed red pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Sure, it’s what I call “frou-frou” pizza, but it’s delicious. You can tell they use fresh ingredients all the way around. The crust may have been a tad bit too thin towards the center of the pizza, forcing me to eat the first couple of bites with a fork (sorry, Jon Stewart) so the toppings didn’t slide off the too thin crust at the point of the slices. My coworker got the Bonecrusher, but with white sauce. It was very good, but if I had it to do over again (which I won’t), I’d get the Great White Hope.
So if I liked the service and the pizza so much, why do I have no intention of eating there again? Two reasons, and they’re both tied to a choice the owner of Hard Knox made in furnishing the restaurant. I didn’t take this picture of the stools in the restaurant, but it’s close enough for you to get the idea.
If you want to eat in the restaurant, that stool is your only option. I absolutely understand that the owner is going for a boxing theme, both on the menu and with the decor in his shop. I get it. It’s even kinda cute, visually. But it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. So reason number one - comfort. I’m a big guy, and frankly, I am not comfortable sitting on a little stool while eating my meal. I don’t sit on a stool at work. I don’t sit on a stool at home. Hell, I don’t sit on stools in bars unless they have backs because they’re not comfortable. I was reminded of my only other visit to Hard Knox when I arrived early this time and setup the tables. I made sure I got a seat on the side of the tables with my back to the wall, so I would at least have some back support. That’s exactly how I had to sit after a few minutes during our first visit, only that time, since we were seated at a single table, not a row of them turned sideways, I got to lean against the wall looking like a dufus since my wife was sitting across the table at a 90 degree angle from me, along with our son in his baby carrier.
Which brings me to reason two - we have a two year old. We always ask for a booth when we eat out. Are we in love with booths? Not really. But you know what a booth allows us to do? Put our son on the inside next to his mom so we don’t have to worry about him waxing toddler for 20 seconds and tearing through the restaurant. Even a chair would be better because we could block him in against the wall. But a stool with no back that would let him just swing around and hop right off the back? No way.
Am I making too big a deal of this? Maybe, but I’m just being honest. I don’t care that the guy who owns Hard Knox wants to have stools instead of chairs, for whatever reason. I have tons of places happy to take my money for food, so I’ll continue to choose one in which I can sit comfortably, and also one in which I don’t have to worry about our son sliding off a stool and running around wreaking havoc.
If you’re someone who can sit on a tiny stool while eating your meal and you’re looking for amazing and interesting pizza, I can heartily recommend Hard Knox Pizzeria. If you like to be comfortable while eating, may I suggest Blackhorse just next door? Or if you’re really in the mood for a pizza place, give Sergeant Pepperoni’s a try - it’s just down the street.