Grub Scout: East Knox County's Pizza Plus a good value

For you pizza lovers, Steph & Andy’s Pizza Plus may be the biggest pizza chain you’ve never heard of. I know I hadn’t until just a few weeks ago, when a friend pointed out to me a consistent string of positive online reviews for the Blountville-based enterprise.

You generally won’t find Pizza Plus stores in larger cities. For the most part, they’re set up in small, rural markets where fast-food options are presumably limited. For example, The Grub Spouse and I went to the location on Andrew Johnson Highway in the Four Way community.

We were allowed to choose our seating on a Friday evening, so we took a booth, where a laminated menu was pre-set on the recently-wiped-down tabletop. At that point in the evening, we had the place to ourselves, although other patrons trickled in during our stay.

The fare starts off with appetizers like garlic bread, bacon cheese fries, chicken wings and breaded chicken sticks. From there, main-course options include a handful of spaghetti-based pasta dishes, about a dozen hoagies and their selection of pizzas and calzones.

Like Little Caesar’s used to do in their true Pizza! Pizza! days, Pizza Plus gives you two pizzas for one price, available in small, medium and large sizes. Specialty pies include deluxe, Meat Extravaganza, Veggie D’Lite, chicken fajita, barbecue chicken, California Chicken and taco.

I knew I’d be the only pizza eater in the family that night, but I certainly didn’t want to order two pizzas. Fortunately, there’s an option for that. You can custom-order a single pie with up to four toppings for an adjusted price. I got a small deep-dish pizza with onions, mushrooms, beef and pepperoni for about $7, which seemed pretty fair to me.

In all, they have about 15 toppings to customize with, and according to the menu, their dough is made fresh daily, and their cheese is 100-percent whole-milk mozzarella.

The Spouse weighed the merits of sandwiches like Philly Cheese Steak, Western Steak, chicken mushroom Swiss, Ham-N-Cheese and a couple of subs, to mention just a few. The Spouse went with the barbecue chicken sandwich, made with strips of grilled meat, barbecue sauce and mozzarella cheese on a roll.

In general, I thought the fare was pretty good though not particularly noteworthy. The pizza’s soft and chewy crust was a treat, although it seemed to be on the thin side for deep dish. The cheese and sauce were both good, but I was disappointed in the toppings. They were chopped into bits, which I actually prefer, but I felt that each topping was underrepresented on this particular pie. On the plus side, the small size was an ideal portion for a single diner, and I couldn’t complain about the price.

The sandwich’s roll was soft and chewy, and I felt the number of chicken strips was fair. But the flavor of the chicken and the barbecue sauce together just didn’t do much to elevate this particular sandwich beyond ordinary.

However, with a lunch buffet, several dessert selections and a kids’ menu, I think Pizza Plus is still a viable option for pizza and pasta lovers who don’t have many handy dine-out options at their disposal.

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Steph & Andy’s Pizza Plus

Food: 3.5 stars (out of five)

Service: 3.5

Atmosphere: 3

Overall: 3.5

Address: 210 Andrew Johnson Hwy.

Phone: 865-933-4001

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Kids’ menu

No alcohol service

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Bottom Line: This East Tennessee-based chain of pizzerias brings a variety of Italian-style fare to small-town America.

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