HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — You’ve heard of New York style pizza, and you’re probably familiar with Chicago style, but have you ever had New Jersey style pizza? Do yourself a favor and check out SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint in Hot Springs!
But before we get to the food, you have to hear the story behind this place and it’s unique name.
SQZBX is short for “squeezebox.” But what in the world is that? It’s the nickname used for accordions, the musical instrument played by co-owner Cheryl Roorda. Her husband plays the tuba, but they both agree that’s not near as fun of an instrument to name a pizza joint after.
It’s music that brought Cheryl and her husband Zac Smith together. They often played shows around central Arkansas before opening this one-of-a-kind pizzeria.
One day in 2007, they noticed the historic building they now call home on Ouachita Avenue. At the time it was Davis Piano Repair. They fell in love with the building and all the organs, pianos and other instruments inside.
Now, many of those same instruments are used as functional décor. Actual accordions and drums are used as lights and the bar is crafted using large sections of piano. From the most obvious to the smallest of details, you’ll be able to find many nods to their musical roots.
So, back to the food: What is authentic Jersey style pizza?
It starts with a cold, overnight fermented dough. When cooked it’s not crunchy or crispy, but chewy and full of flavor. Only the finest toppings are used, including whole milk mozzarella cheese.
One of the coolest aspects of SQZBX is what they call “Pizza TV.” You can literally stand outside their restaurant and look through the window, directly into the kitchen and watch dough being rolled and tossed into the air.
If pizza isn’t your thing, they offer incredible sub sandwiches using bread baked daily as well as salads. They also offer a large gluten free and vegan menu.
Also on tap is a selection of craft beer brewed on site by Zac himself. But a couple things are really unique to Zac’s brewing.
First, he doesn’t store anything in kegs. His taps are directly connected bright tanks, so you’re sure to get a fresh brew.
Second, the water he uses in the brewing process comes from the Hot Springs water supply. Why is that interesting? Scientist have studied the water and found that it’s the perfect chemical composition for craft beer. How neat!
Bonus: SQZBX is home to Arkansas’ first and only solar powered low-power radio station, KUHS. It’s an entirely volunteer-ran operation using 100% solar power to broadcast their signal to the Hot Springs area. Hop in the car and tune in 102.5 FM on your drive to get a slice of pizza!