I love pizza. Making it, eating it, even thinking about pizza gets me excited. At this very moment my mouth is watering while writing, and it starts again every time I revisit this post for editing. Pizza was the first thing I learned how to make as a kid. I’ve been using the same recipe for pizza dough that I found in one of my father’s books about bread for almost thirty years. Water, flour, salt, yeast and olive oil have been the foundations for many great meals and moments of joy in my life, and hopefully the lives of those around me.
I lived in the Park Slope and Bay Ridge neighborhoods of Brooklyn, NY for five years while cooking in Manhattan. One of the many great things about living in the five boroughs is all the pizza you can eat without leaving the comfort of your own neighborhood. Many, if not most of my days off were spent walking from pizza joint to pizza joint, eating a slice at each place, casually tucking myself into the corner of tiny Brooklyn pizzerias, relishing a slice and the solitude of the moment. I could eat five slices at five different places without walking more than a few blocks from my apartment. It was heaven.
The best slices? A pepperoni slice or square (well done of course), and probably my favorite NY slice, and one that I rarely see where I live now; the chicken, tomato and onion slice. Fried chicken cutlet, fresh chopped tomatoes and red onions on a thick soft crust soaked with olive oil. Pineapple on a pizza…NEVER. Every time I see pineapple on a pizza I die a little bit inside. But hey if that’s your thing then go for it, I’ll be over here dying.
The pizza scene in Downtown Las Vegas reminds me of Brooklyn. It has a lot of great pizza within walking distance of Fremont Street. Check out these four spots around downtown. My advice is to start with Pop Up Pizza and end over at Good Pie.
POP UP PIZZA
Pop Up Pizza is tucked into the back of the Plaza Hotel at the beginning of Fremont Street. Casual digs with some café style seating. Order at the counter and they’ll call your name.
The dough is super light and moist with a paper-thin layer of crispy, olive oil laced crust at the bottom.
WHAT TO GET: Mike’s Hot Honey and The Suprema, if you’re a crust person then get the corner piece.
There is a lot to say about Pizza Rock. There are a lot of accolades swirling around the food and the people behind it. But there are two words that really stand out for me. DETROIT SLICE. I would describe their Detroit slice as crispy, chewy, soft, crusty, cheesy, saucy and fatty all at the same time. The corners are thick with crackling caramelized cheese. You can get a slice to go up front or sit in the dining room and check out the larger menu. There is a full bar in the back.
WHAT’S GOOD HERE: Pretty much everything.
The name and decor are inspired by the famed American motorcycle rider Evel Knievel and the interior is loaded with memorabilia about him. The NY style pies are thin but not too thin. The crust has a nice tangy chew to it. There is a full bar on the left as you walk in and a long row of booths on the right. The food, staff, decor and vibe all come together to make this a great place to eat some pizza.
WHAT’S GOOD HERE: Everything, but the Hog Heaven is a standout.
This cool little Brooklyn-style pizza spot is situated in Pawn Plaza, a small retail center right across the parking lot from the “Pawn Stars” pawn shop. They have bar and stool seating inside and tables and chairs out in the food court area. The place is super clean and bright. I had the Detroit slice with pepperoni here and it was every bit as good as the Detroit slice at the Pizza Rock. This is another place where you can’t go wrong with anything they serve you.
IN THE END
Pizza is the ultimate comfort food. It’s symbolizes the warmth of an oven, the bubbling of a pot on the stove and the smell of freshly baked bread. A carefully crafted pizza is a welcome sight and smell regardless of the season. A taste of home when home is so far away.
I spent just over a year in Las Vegas as a sous chef at the Bellagio. With few friends and no family around much of my time there was spent in bars, alone, in a city of transient people not unlike myself. For some reason I was always drawn to Downtown. It held something that I couldn’t find in the emptiness of the bright lights on Las Vegas Blvd. If you’re ever in Las Vegas and you feel that emptiness then head to Downtown. Maybe you can find your slice of home there as well.
Featured Image by SADDO
Special thanks to LQ and Jove for their help on this article.