After visiting Hard Knox Pizzeria last week, we were reminded of what wood fired pizza was all about. The new owners of this small pizzeria located in the Western Plaza shopping center in the Bearden area, met with us over a few of their specialty pizzas and discussed the Hard Knox philosophy. Paul and Alexa Sponcia were longtime fans of Hard Knox before purchasing controlling interest in 2014. Paul comes from a business-building background and Alexa has a deep history in the restaurant business. Together they are continuing Hard Knox Pizza’s “artisan” tradition. Their belief is in providing top quality food and service at a reasonable value. As Alexa said, “Sure, we’re a pizza joint, but we’re so much more than that.”
A fire was roaring in the pizza oven when we arrived and the hardwood smoke was the first sign that these pizzas would be something special. First up was the more traditional Bonecrusher with pepperoni and sweet italian sausage. Then we sampled the Iron Mike, with it’s rich creamy white sauce and roasted garlic. To accompany the pizza is an expanded selection of 6 drafts including a non-alcoholic offering of Abita rootbeer.
In addition to the large selection of 8 red sauce pizzas, 7 white sauce pizzas, and several seasonal and “always on” gourmet pizzas, Hard Knox has recently begun a monthly creative collaboration with local chefs and foodies (more on that later!). Last month’s Crown & Goose Pizza by Chef Jeff DeAlajandro. This savory red sauce pizza had Crown & Goose’s own lamb bacon (or venison sausage), local brussels sprouts, roasted garlic, caramelized onions and to tip it over the top, a poached duck egg! And for May, the grande dame of Knoxville cuisine, Holly Hambright is providing the special pizza offering; The Hambright Pizza has a cauliflower hummus base with lamb meatballs, onion, tomato, Bulgarian feta. When it comes out of the oven it gets topped with Cruze Farm ricotta crumbles and an arugula salad with tahini vinaigrette. We got a special preview and WOW are you in for a flavor-bomb treat! We also tried the Barbed Wire with Archer’s BBQ, jalapeno, and a knock your socks off bourbon reduction as well as the Mancini: a white pizza with pistachios, rosemary, onion and a balsamic reduction. Everything we tried was packed full of flavor and piping hot. You can get your own Holly Hambright Pizza from May 1 Through May 31.
Plans for the future include additional Knoxville locations…and who knows where it will go from there. The owners want to maintain that level of quality that has proven successful in the Bearden location.
Hard Knox provides an entire dining experience to their patrons including craft beer, fresh salads, appetizers, even dessert pizzas! They are now hosting Sunday brunch starting at 10AM and lasting until they run out.
In addition to Hard Knox Pizzeria, Paul and Alexa run the non-profit Live, Love, Hope.
And now for the special announcement! KnoxFoodie will be collaborating on July’s Chef Inspired Pizza!! We’ll have much more information about this as July approaches, but we plan to offer a refreshing Summer-inspired pizza.
Now, take a gander at the rest of our photos so you’re nice an hungry then go to Hard Knox and get yourself some pizza!