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By Bethel Poston
My “Out to Lunch” adventures were temporarily put on hold on the Friday prior to the Tennessee vs. UT Martin football game, when my wife, Carol, had surgery to repair her torn Achilles tendon.
Since then, most of my activities have been limited to preparing and serving lunch and other meals in addition to additional household activities. All our bedrooms are upstairs, so gaining weight has not been a problem for me.
Carol and I celebrated our birthdays on Sept. 15. (Yes, I’m a year older.) It was also our 55th wedding anniversary. We have always celebrated this day with a second honeymoon, usually in Gatlinburg.
Due to the surgery, I reluctantly canceled this year’s reservations. I reinstated them 10 days later, when Carol had her heavy soft-wrap bandage replaced by an orange fiberglass cast, allowing her to put limited weight on her foot.
People in Gatlinburg cut us a wide path with the bright-orange cast acting like a warning to get out of the way as I pushed her wheelchair along the Parkway.
We had our anniversary/birthday dinner on the creekside outdoor patio of Gatlinburg’s Best Little Italian Restaurant. I have previously written about this location.
Although red-shirted for the football season, this excursion qualified her to resume our “Out to Lunch” adventures.
Most of my articles are inspired by recommendations from friends and readers like you. Carol assured me several days after the surgery that she would behave if I would go to Sunday school.
Darlene Brandel, a Sunday school class member, gave me a note about a restaurant at Ten Mile: Pizza Factory, Bakery and Restaurant, owned by Spiro Angelos in the former Stone Cottage Pizza building. My “Out To Lunch” article on Stone Cottage was published in the June 23, 2008, edition of the Roane County News.
The menu she gave me told me this was more than a “pizza” place. I was impressed by descriptions of classic Italian dinners, chicken and kabob dishes, and Frutti Di Mare (Fruits of the Sea) selections.
I immediately called former high school classmates Madge and Don Jackson and Lennie and Lee Stansbury to join us for lunch at Pizza Factory, Bakery and Restaurant.
Madge and Lennie are sisters who live near each other just off River Road. Heading south on Hwy. 58 out of Kingston, we took a right on River Road going toward Ten Mile, and passed close to their homes.
I had a crush on Madge in the sixth grade at Highland View Elementary School in Oak Ridge, and I played football with Lee at Oak Ridge High.
Lee ordered the shrimp scampi with sautéed shrimp, lightly seasoned with garlic butter, wine and lemon sauce served over fettuccine pasta.
Other fish dishes available were grilled Alaskan salmon, shrimp alfredo with homemade alfredo sauce, sautéed mussels and grilled shrimp. All entrées come with a choice of spaghetti, vegetables or fries.
Lennie went for the “Mama Mia Special” pizza made with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, mushroom and onions.
When Madge placed her order for a house salad and a 7-inch cheese pizza with mushrooms, server Chrissie Pendergrass said, “We call that the personal pizza.” I didn’t get the names of the 12- and 16-inch size pizzas.
The menu describes specialty pizzas such as Hawaiian Delight, hungry meat madness, Memphis BBQ, Philly steak and Greek; plus a choice of chicken, meatball or shrimp parmigianino pizza.
Don and I both selected spaghetti and meatballs, with Don adding a house salad.
Carol choose ziti with meat sauce and a Greek salad of spring lettuce mix, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, pepperoncini peppers, cucumbers and red onions, topped with Grecian dressing.
Of course, we had to share desserts of hot apple dumpling, baklava and tiramisu.
Oops, I almost forgot the spanikopita appetizer Spiro brought us — as if we needed more food. It was spinach cream pie — a flaky pastry filled with spinach and cheese.
Our group of six took home eight large Styrofoam carry-out boxes filled with food.
Spiro was born in Athens, Greece, and came to the Knoxville area in 1967. He has previously operated the Lighthouse Restaurant at Euchee Marina, Angelos at Watts Bar Dam, and restaurants in Gatlinburg and Morristown.
In March 2008, I wrote an “Out To Lunch” article on the Gondolier Restaurant by Kroger and Lowe’s in Midtown. It’s operated by his son, Kosta.
Another son, Chris, operates Angelo’s Brick Oven in Lenoir City. For a Greek family, they serve some really good Italian food.
Pizza Factory also serves burgers from the grill, chicken wings, an assortment of salads, several types of subs and a gyro on pita bread with homemade cucumber sauce.
Other classic Italian dishes available are baked lasagna, beef ravioli, ravioli gumbo and fettuccine alfredo.
Kevin and Barbara Ensley, with 5-year old Elliott and 2-year old Isaac, regularly drive from Spring City to enjoy Pizza Factory dishes.
On the day of our visit, Kevin chose a calzone, Barbara baked manicotti, and the boys had pizza.
Kevin works at TVA at Watts Bar and Barbara is an artist operating Busy Bee Creations.
“Spiro’s tiramisu dessert is to die for,” Barbara said. “I sometimes drive over just for a serving.”
It’s made with Mascarpone cheese delicate ladyfingers and laced with espresso coffee. It is sometimes called “pick-me-up.”
Dean and Liz Hollingsworth live nearby at Red Cloud and have followed Spiro’s cooking at his previous locations. Dean works in the railroad industry, and Liz is the retired director of purchasing for Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, A&W and Taco Bell).
“The Italian chopped steak is the best in the South,” Liz said.
It’s lean beef, sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms covered with marinara and mozzarella cheese and served with spaghetti.
She also spoke highly of the cannoli and baklava desserts. With her background, I’d listen to her recommendation.
Pizza Factory is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday. Call 423-334-8844 for details.
The bread is baked on site, and secret-recipe Italian sausage, sauces and homemade vegetable soup are created fresh everyday in their kitchen.
Sisters-in-law Glenda and Sheilah Grubb drive from Athens to eat at Pizza Factory regularly while visiting their family lake house. Both are retired McMinn County teachers, and they were each having a pizza and a “free” serving of soup.
I didn’t find out until I was too full that you just went to the soup tureen and got yourself a “free” serving.
Spiro invited us back to try his Greek lamb kabob with vegetables and served on a bed of rice.
I’ll try the “free” soup on that “Out To Lunch” visit.
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Bethel Poston is a Roane County businessman and entrepreneur who writes about places of interest in our area. E-mail suggestions and comments to email@example.com.