Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, where my dad ran delicatessens, a Mexican restaurant and a produce company, pizza was far from my top priority. Takeout from Domino’s or Pizza Hut was for sleepovers or birthday parties. Soccer banquets were held at a family-friendly parlor called Pietro’s. I barely remember bites of crumbly sausage on crisp crust between trips to the arcade.
When we moved to Las Vegas in 1987, I had my first taste of a proper New York-style slice at Verrazano Pizza, a tiny shop still standing in Rainbow Express Plaza between Westcliff and Alta. One cheese, one pepperoni, both sprinkled with crushed red pepper and grated Parmesan, a perfect lunch after a five-minute bike ride from home. It wasn’t until I met local guru John Arena and learned about the emotional, communal nature of this food that I realized pizza is forever tied to the freedom of those bike rides and the celebrations at Pietro’s.
Then I made more memories at Arena’s Metro Pizza location on Decatur and Flamingo and the Shakey’s Pizza that once resided where Capo’s is now located on West Sahara. My college years in Reno were highlighted by hours at the Pub N’ Sub devouring its perfect pies with pitchers of beer and weekly sports media gatherings catered by JJ’s Pie Company.
Back home in Vegas, it became my favorite food as I became a food writer, eating and learning at Northside Nathan’s, Settebello, Naked City, Pizza Rock and more Metros, and then Pop Up, Old School, Ada’s, Evel Pie and others. Now I might be evolving from affectionate eater to pizza maker, studying Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pizza and trying to figure out a whole-wheat hybrid dough so I can eat healthier without cutting back on regular pizza intake. Clearly, this is the best obsession. –Brock Radke
The square root of pizza
Those foldable New York slices so many think of as the only acceptable pizza? Move past ’em. I’m here to rep for Chicago style, and I don’t mean deep dish. I’m talking cracker-thin crust (made with cornmeal), cut into squares to provide variety with every single slice. You’ve got crispy, burnt corner chunks; middle pieces loaded with cheese and toppings and slices closer to the perimeter with a little less junk in their trunk. Everyone in my Midwestern family has a favorite type of square, the one worth fighting for. Triangle slices? They just don’t cut it. –Leslie Ventura