Bob's Brick Oven in Rock Spring, Ga., is something of a curiosity. It sits right off U.S. Highway 27 in the same building as a gas station, sort of hiding in plain sight. Blink and you might miss it, especially among the sprawl, as Rock Spring has no central area — just a couple miles of random businesses intermittently scattered along the highway.
Experience has shown me on several occasions, though, that mom-and-pop-type places like this often outshine more easily accessible competitors. This belief was strengthened once again when I recently visited Bob's after listening to a growing chorus of voices proclaim how good the eatery's pies are.
I wholeheartedly concur. If you're a pizza aficionado you must check this place out.
When you arrive at Bob's, the first thing you notice is an outdoor smoker and covered seating area. The eatery itself is a small, comfortable space with about eight tables and a few pieces of folk art adorning the walls.
› Where: Bob’s Brick Oven, 8009 Highway 27, Rock Spring, Ga.
› Hours: 4-8 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
› Price range: $6-$17
› Alcohol: No
› Phone: 706-375-4400
› Website: bobswoodfiredpizza.com
A hydroponic growing system to the left of the door provides fresh basil and some vegetables for the restaurant. To the right, Bob's Italian-made and imported brick oven sits in the corner beside the prep area, where diners can watch the staff create the pizzas.
The atmosphere is very laid back. Upon our arrival, we were asked to sit wherever we wanted. Our server, Anke, then explained a bit about the menu, noting that we could change some of the toppings for specific pizzas but not all of them, as the nature of their thin, sourdough crust would not hold more toppings in some instances. She also mentioned that if we wanted to try an 8-inch version of any 14-inch pizza on the menu it would be half the menu price.
There are about 10 pizzas on Bob's menu as well as a weekly special, which on this visit was a cheeseburger pizza. It all looked good, so we opted to try three different 8-inch pizzas to get a good sampling of the menu.
The restaurant's Primero Pesto pizza was listed in the 2016 Georgia Eats guide as one of the statewide 100 Plates Locals Love, so it was a given that we would try that. The Primero Pesto ($7.50) is built with house-made pesto made with basil grown on-site, red onion, bell pepper, crumbled bacon and whole milk mozzarella. The pesto foundation was a sublime complement to the smoky flavor of the bacon, and the red onion and bell pepper provided a nice bit of crunch. Absolutely delicious.
We didn't have to wait long to try the others. The wood-fired brick oven bakes at around 800 degrees, so each pizza is ready in about two minutes.
Next up was The Luau ($7), Bob's take on the classic Hawaiian pizza, with Canadian bacon, whole milk mozzarella, sweet marinara sauce and large chunks of fresh pineapple. It's hard for anyone to fail with this simple blueprint, but the quality of the ingredients really elevated the experience. Another winner.
Last was The Picnic ($8.50), a savory concoction of Bob's house-smoked pulled pork, sweet barbecue sauce and whole milk mozzarella drizzled with Carolina barbecue sauce. Barbecue is one of my favorites, and I consider myself fortunate to live in an area where there are a lot of good barbecue joints from which to choose. Bob has clearly mastered the art of barbecue, in addition to pizza making. His convergence of the two brings excellent results.
We washed it all down with sweet tea and Bob's tasty, homemade root beer ($2.50). After boxing up about half of the pizza to take home, we tried a bowl of homemade cherry sorbet ($3.50). This was substantial enough for two, and a cool, sweet finish to a meal of pizza perfection. The restaurant typically has three to five different flavors of homemade ice cream and sorbets on hand, according to the staff.
Everyone at Bob's was friendly and provided impeccable service. Owner Bob Watts even stopped by our table to tell us a little about his process and the time it took for him to develop the right recipe for his delicious root beer.
There are lots of good pizza places in the Chattanooga area and even a couple great ones. As far as I'm concerned, Bob's is The One. Fantastic value for what you get and great service. I will definitely be heading to Rock Spring the next time I'm in the mood for pizza.
Email Chris Zelk at firstname.lastname@example.org.