Big Tomato Pizza.
After hours: Eat a late-night slice from Big Tomato Pizza Co.
Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Jackie Hoermann
Late night. Hangry friends. Limited options. Drive-thru Taco Bell lost its appeal freshmen year of college, so where do you turn?
How about down Ingersoll Avenue to Big Tomato Pizza Co., where Des Moines night owls head for late-night noshing at a reasonable price ($2.50 per 12-inch slice) and an unreasonable number of options.
What’s good? Co-owner Dave Fenton has had a lot of favorites over the years, but right now he’s loving the honey garlic.
“We were just playing around one night,” Fenton said, “and threw honey, garlic and alfredo sauce together. Put it on the menu and since then people have been crazy for those slices. It’s unusual, but people keep asking for it.”
Unusual is what they aim for. The pizza makers at Big Tomato experiment with whatever they have in store, just because they can.
Fenton recalls a peanut- butter-and-jelly pie being made once because “that’s just what [they] had.” Another time, a distributor mistakenly delivered french fries, so they spun out chili-cheese fry slices, which their late-night clientele couldn’t get enough of, he said.
It’s that sort of customer demand that determines what they decide to offer, but only for a spell. You won’t find Big Tomato committing to a set menu. Fenton can’t guarantee that chili-cheese fry slices will be available on any given night, but based on recent customer demand, here’s what you might find if you visit this weekend.
Asparagus and red pepper pizza has become a veggie favorite and offered frequently due to the abundance of asparagus this spring. Fenton recommends it with a feta cheese and a bit of garlic for a big pop of flavor. The spring asparagus crop seems to be on its way out though, so an arugula-goat cheese slice may be taking its place.
Honey-mustard meatball is another savory option. Quartered meatballs are dropped on the crust, drizzled with a honey-mustard sauce, and baked under a blanket of fresh cheeses from Graziano Bros. Italian Grocery,the source of all Big Tomato Pizza Co.’s meats and cheeses.
And because there’s one in every crowd, that friend with an alarmingly high capsaicin tolerance, the Ass-Blaster has spicy Cajun sauce topped with spicy sausage and some spicy jalapenos, you know, just in case it’s not spicy enough.
If you come with something specific in mind, they can probably make that, too, operating under the “if we have it, we’ll make it” policy because that’s how some of their all-time favorites were found.
And occasionally, those favorites make guest appearances. Fenton recalls one time when the idea of a baked-potato bar came to mind. Potato slices, cheddar and broccoli made for a carbilicious combination of two favorite comfort foods in one.
Cheese and pepperoni are always available, as are other classic slices like The Hula, a Canadian bacon and pineapple combo that’s one of the most popular with later-nighters.
But in the wee hours of the a.m. when your inhibitions are at their lowest, don’t be afraid to try something new. Your flavor experiment could find fame and quasi-immortalization on Big Tomato Pizza Co.’s menu.
“We’re always looking and trying to come up with something new.” said Fenton.
“After 20 years, that’s how you keep it interesting.”
Big Tomato Pizza Co.
Where: 2613 Ingersoll Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 a.m.
Monday through Saturday;
2 p.m.-3 a.m. Sunday