Businesses evolve over time, but the idea of good eats must remain a mainstay for them to be sustainable. The Tomato Head, in downtown Knoxville, is an example of a business that has embraced change. Located in the Market Square, this place is focusing on the food, and offers guests a variety of options to satisfy their lunch or dinner desires. Their motto is Food Gotta Cook, Don’t Come Out Of A Can. With the promise of some fresh bites, we were anxious to let their food do the talking.
Our arrival at The Tomato Head came about 28 years after its start-up in 1990. In those days, Market Square hadn’t yet transformed into its present day attraction status. Formerly named Flying Tomato, it focused on serving up lunchtime bites to downtown workers. It was chance that brought the owner to this spot. The landlord leaving a pizza oven on the premises became a major reason why Knoxville soon had a gourmet pizzeria. Over time, the unusual flavor combinations being served up created a stir throughout the city. These days, The Tomato Head is a core eatery in what has become a destination for residents and travelers alike.
Focusing On The Food
With a better understanding of the history of The Tomato Head, now it was time to see what 28 years of practice has created. Our visit was planned for lunchtime, as that is the only period that you can order by the slice. That meant that we could sample a variety of their specialty flavor combinations. Choosing 3 out of the 14 available was harder than it sounds, since many sound intriguing. First up we picked the Benton’s Bacon, Ham & Hot Italian Sausage. This savory combination of flavors packs plenty of punch. The carmelized onions added a sweet overtone to this meaty treat.
Over the past few years, more pizzerias are mixing up their sauce choices to compliment new combinations of toppings. By focusing on the food, the winner is the customer. A garlicky white sauce adds a boost of flavor to the Blue Cheese & Walnut pie, at The Tomato Head. This slice brought a tangy crunch that had lighter flavors, but was still just as delicious.
Our final choice was the Chicken, Roasted Portobello, and Pesto. Once again, it starts with a base of white sauce, but from there it takes a quick right turn. Smoky chicken is accented by the salty Kalamata olives and sweet caramelized red onion. Toss in the tang of goat cheese and nutty taste of pesto sauce to create a mad rush of flavors. This had to be one of the most interesting pizza combinations we have ever experienced. It is one we would happily repeat over and over.
Plans for Success
The Tomato Head has spent the last couple decades perfecting a business plan that puts customer satisfaction at the forefront. We added ourselves to this ever-growing list. Back out in the midday sunshine, we stopped for a quick selfie in front of this Knoxville classic. It was clear to us that the local foodies were in good hands, when they visited Market Square. With our appetites quenched, it was time for us to head a short distance to explore the East Tennessee History Museum. (You can read about that visit here.) Travel blogging can have its own challenges at times, but getting to sample a meal like this can go a long way to making it worth it. What’s the most unique pizza topping combination you have ever tasted?