Archive for Thin Crust

SouthCreek Pizza

Tucked In The NE corner of the SouthCreek shopping center is a little bit of pizza heaven!

Tucked In The NE corner of the SouthCreek shopping center is a little slice of pizza heaven!

 

For the last couple of years Campo has had a monopoly on Neapolitan style pizza in Reno. With the opening of SouthCreek Pizza on the southern end of town in late 2013, Campo faces some new, and very tough competition.

While Campo is an upscale Italian restaurant that happens to feature Neapolitan pizza on an otherwise varied menu, SouthCreek Pizza is an upscale casual restaurant that is unabashedly 100% focused on making authentic, high-end pizza.

If you are looking for braised pork shank or truffle bisque, tough luck, you won’t find it here, what you will find though is outstanding Neapolitan thin crust pizza.  Don’t take my word for it, just look at the menu.

For your main course your options are pizza, pizza, and more pizza ... perfection!

For your main course your options are pizza, pizza, and more pizza … perfect!

 

That laser like focus on great pizza is readily apparent as soon as one walks in the door as SouthCreek’s imported Stefano Farrara wood-fired brick oven dominates the room from its perch just over the bar and almost screams “we take our pizza seriously here”.  Fully warmed up, the Stefano Farrara will effortlessly pump out a fully cooked, slightly charred Neapolitan pizza in under 2 minutes.

You know a restaurant takes its pizza seriously when you see one of these

You know a restaurant takes its pizza seriously when you see one of these

SouthCreek’s passion and focus on pizza is not only evidenced by its oven and its menu, but, perhaps most importantly, by its dough.  SouthCreek uses “00” flour for its dough and then ferments it for at least 48 hours.  This “cold raise” is designed to produce a moist, elastic dough and from watching the pizzaiolo’s make the pizza, its apparent that the cold raise works as they are able to quickly work balls of dough into 12 inch pies with relative ease.

So, they have the oven, the menu and the dough, but how’s the pizza?  Well, the best way to judge Neapolitan pizza is to order the world’s benchmark pizza, the Margarita, and that is just want I did.

SouthCreek's Margarita is straight out of Napoli central casting

SouthCreek’s Margarita is straight out of Napoli central casting

SouthCreek’s Margarita not only is faithful to the Neapolitan ideal from an ingredients standpoint, with just tomato, mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, but it is faithful from a size, texture and, most importantly, taste perspective as well.  Charred on the edges, extra thin in the center, chewy, and moist, SouthCreek’s Neapolitan can stand toe to toe with many of the best Neapolitan pies in the country.  It’s not quite in Tony’s league, but any fan of authentic, high quality Neapolitan pizza will not leave disappointed.

Excellent bubble structure and the right amount of charring ... yum!

Excellent bubble structure and the right amount of charring … yum!

What really stands out about SouthCreek’s pizza is how moist and chewy it is.  In fact, over the 8 or so pies I have sampled, I have to say that, pie for pie, SouthCreek’s pizzas were consistently more chewy and more moist than Campo’s and it’s enough of difference for me make a statement that some in Reno may find to be heresy:  SouthCreek’s pizza is better than Campos.

I’m not 100% sure, but I would guess that it’s the 48 hour cold raise that accounts for the difference and while it is admittedly a subtle difference, it’s an important one to any pizza aficionado.  Now don’t get me wrong, Campo makes a great pie, especially by Reno standards, but if I had to choose a favorite between the two it would be SouthCreek.

Given the pedigree of Campo and the national attention it has received, I think it would surprise many in Reno to learn that SouthCreek is actually putting out better pies but this shouldn’t really be that surprising.  Unlike Campo, SouthCreek is 100% focused on pizza so one would kind of expect them to go that extra mile to get the pizza just right (and they do).  You can almost taste their passionate focus on pizza and its enough to tip Reno’s Neapolitan pizza crown in their favor.

A "Classic" Pizza: Sausage, Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Garlic, Basil, Ricotta, and Sea Salt

SouthCreek Has Reno’s Best Neapolitan Pies 

As for the restaurant itself, it is located in the Northeast corner of the SouthCreek shopping center just off Virginia Avenue.  SouthCreek is definitely not some hole in the wall pizza joint.  It is a well appointed sit-down, full service upscale casual restaurant with a full bar and a nice cozy atmosphere.  There are about 50 seats in the restaurant including several at the bar that overlook the pizzaiolos and the oven (that’s where you will find me).

As you can see from the picture of the menu earlier, outside of some salads and a few appetizers, there is only pizza on the menu, so you should leave any non-pizza loving friends or family members (not that you should have any) at home as they will be out of luck at SouthCreek.  The bar menu deserves special mention as they have a nice selection of draft beers and a number of wines by the glass and bottle.

Southcreek's Bar has a great selection of draft beers and wines

Southcreek’s Bar has a great selection of draft beers and wines

Assuming you are with people who love pizza (and why wouldn’t you be), SouthCreek is nice enough for a date night or night on the town but it’s also a casual enough place to take the kids for an early dinner.

SouthCreek is also a family run establishment.  The son of the two owners is the main pizzaiolo and does a fantastic job.  When talking to him his passion for pizza is obvious. His mom can often be found working the front of the house and his dad is often in the back.   They apparently are not experienced restaurateurs, but you couldn’t tell that from what they are putting out in the front of the house.

SouthCreek’s focus on and passion for pizza is obvious and more importantly, it shines though in their pizza.  If you are looking for a great Neapolitan pizza, dare I say the best (by a hair) in Reno, than look no further than SouthCreek Pizza.

 

Name:  SouthCreek Pizza Co.
Address: 45 Foothill Rd.  Reno, NV 89551
Phone #: 775-622-1620
Webstie:  www.southcreekpizza.com
Pizza Type
:  Neapolitan, Thin Crust
Oven: Wood
Slices? N
Large Pizza Cost:  $14.00

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Campo

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza is widely regarded as the first, and to many the best, form of pizza.  Alas, Reno has been without an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria, that is until Campo opened its doors a couple months ago.  Campo is not a pizzeria per se, it is actually an upscale rustic Italian-themed restaurant, however the focal point of its menu is, thankfully, Neapolitan Pizza. Campo was opened by Chef Mark Estes who has an excellent reputation in the Reno/Tahoe area and who has also achieved some national publicity and prominence through appearances on numerous TV cooking shows.

Under Estes guidance, Campo has made a determined effort to make its Pizzas as authentic to the Neapolitan ideal as possible.  To that end they went so far as to import a Cirigliano Forni wood-burning brick pizza oven from Italy and send staff to Italy to be trained in the strict pizza-making traditions of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN).  If you are looking for VPN pizza in Reno, as it stands, this is your only option.

Campo's VPN Margarita ... Direct From Naples To You

In keeping with VPN standards, Campo’s pizzas are about 12″ in diameter and have a very thin crust.  Like most VPN pizza’s, Campo’s come with a relatively sparse amount of sauce and cheese.  The end crust is about 3/4 of an inch high and is designed be airy and chewy. Because these pizza’s are thin and light and only a foot wide, a single person can polish off an entire pie if they are hungry.

As it stands Campo typically has five pizzas on the menu and usually has a “pizza of the day” as well.  I’ve had two of the pizzas, the VPN Margaita and the Campo, multiple times. The VPN Margarita is Campo’s version of what is basically the benchmark Neapolitan pizza:  tomato sauce, “house mozzaralla”, basil, and extra virgin olive oil.  The mozzarella does not appear to be true “mozzarella di bufala”, the kind made from Buffalo’s milk that is often found on pizza’s in Italy, but it is good none the less.

Campo’s signature pizza, aptly titled the “Campo”, comes with house-made sausage, salami and pancetta.  When tasting the meats on this pizza, I was immediately stuck by how tasty, distinctive and vibrant they are compared to the meats you find on most pizzas.  If you like meat on your pizza, you owe it to yourself to get this pizza and taste the difference that fresh, house-made meats can make on a pizza.

Excellent Bubble Structure

How does Campo’s Neapolitan pizza compare to other top-tier Neapolitan pizzas in the US, such as Tony’s Napoletana in San Francisco?  In my opinion, it’s very good but not yet as good as the top tier Neapolitan pizzerias.  Campo’s pies have excellent bubble structure and good charring but are, on average, a bit dry and crisp compared to the moist, soft and chewy, Neapolitan ideal.  I’ve had one pie at Campo that came very close to this ideal, but to get into the top tier Campo is going to have to consistently deliver a moist and soft end crust on its pies.

Char

Just The Right Amount of Wood Fired Charring

The good news is that most of this is probably due to Campo’s pizzaiolo’s being inexperienced and it should hopefully be corrected over time.   All that said, the pizza’s are still very good and are the best example of a true Neapolitan Pizza available in Reno.

In addition to Pizzas, Campo also has an excellent selection of foodie-quality rustic-Italian themed entrees and pasta dishes.  Since this is a pizza blog, I won’t comment on these other dishes except to say that the quality of them is very high and they will likely satisfy even the most discerning foodie in your group.

This leads me to what I regard as one of the best features of Campo:  If you are like me, you would prefer to eat a great pizza instead of suffering through a high-end foodie meal. Unfortunately there are certain occasions (date nights, anniversaries, important business meetings, etc.) when inviting everyone to your favorite hole-in-the-wall pizzeria may not exactly be appropriate.  The beauty of Campo is that it allows you to fool your date/wife/friends/business associates into thinking you are taking them to a fine dining experience when in fact you are secretly just taking them to a pizzeria.  Sure, they will order the “braised pork shank” or “roasted whole fish” or whatever it is that foodies eat, but you will still get to chow down on a pizza and since the pizza is made by a high-end chef at a high-end restaurant no one will look askance at you as you wolf down you pie.

As to the restaurant itself, it is located in downtown Reno right on the Truckee river.  It’s across the street from the big movie theater complex, making it a very good “dinner and movie” date-night destination.  While Campo is a high-end full service sit down restaurant, it has a “hip casual” vibe to it, so it’s quite lively and not stuffy at all.  There’s also a big patio overlooking the river that will probably be great for eating your pies “al fresco” once summer rolls around.  Parking is available either on the street or at the parking garages nearby.

Campo's Imported Italian Wood Fired Pizza Oven Means Great Pizza

From a value perspective, the pizza’s at Campo are very reasonably priced for a high-end restaurant with a regionally acclaimed chef at the helm.  The Margarita clocks in at $13 while the Campo is only $2 more @ $15 despite having some high quality meats on it.  Granted, for $13 you are getting a pizza that one hungry person could probably polish off, but when you consider the investment that has gone into the VPN certification as well as the high-end nature of the overall menu, decor and staff, it’s a relative bargain.  For example, I recently had a similarly sized Neapolitan pizza in a high-end Italian place in LA for $23 and it wasn’t nearly as good as Campo’s pie.

With a great space, highly regarded chef, and a true commitment to authentic VPN Neapolitan pizza making, Campo is an excellent and welcome addition to the Reno Pizza scene.  If you are in Reno and want a very good and authentic Neapolitan pie, this is your best bet by far.

 

NameCampo
Address: 50 N. Sierra St.  Reno, NV 89501
Phone #: 775-737-9555
Pizza Type:  Neapolitan, Thin Crust
Oven: Wood
Slices? N
Large Pizza Cost:  $13.00

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Pie Face Pizza Co.

Located a couple blocks from heart of downtown’s casino district, Pie Face Pizza Company sells thin crust, American style pizza.   While their pizza is thin enough to qualify as New York style pizza, Pie Face has two traits that mark it as more of a “American Style” pizza: 1.  They use more cheese than the average New York pizza. 2.  Their pizzas have a unique “braided” end crust.

A cheese slice with the braided crust from Pie Face Pizza Co.

While the braided end crust is interesting, one big drawback is that the braiding appears to the compress the dough and it results in a rather dense end crust (see picture below).

Braided end crust = dense end crust

 

Pie face is located right next to the entrance to the low rent El Cortez Hotel on the northeast corner of 2nd and N. Arlington streets.  It’s actually kind of tough to find because their sign blends in with that of the Hotel.

Pie Face Is Right Next to the entrance to the El Cortez

 

The interior looks nicer and more inviting than the exterior and has about 30 seats.  There’s even a small hang-out couch/chairs up front with a big screen TV if you want to veg out a bit while scarfing down your slice.

The service is fast casual where you order at the counter and then they bring your pie/slice out to you.  The people that work there are friendly and low key.

Pie Face has about 30 seats, plenty for a late night group

 

From a value perspective, Pie face’s pricing is very close to Blue Moon: $3.50 for a plain slice and $19 for a large (although their large is a full 20″).

Pie Face reminds me a bit of Blue Moon, in that the pizza is better than what you will get from Domino’s or Pizza Hut, but nothing I would go out of my way to consume.  In both cases, what prevents the pizza from reaching the next level is the crust.  In Pie Face’s case, the crust is quite thin, but it’s relatively dense and lacks chewyness and crispness.   I wish they would replace the braided crust with something lighter and more airy.

Pie Face apparently does a good amount of late night business (they stay open very late on Fri/Sat) that attracts a lot of people looking for a quick slice after a night of reveling downtown and in that regard I think the pizza probably hits the spot nicely.  If you are out and about downtown and craving a thin crust slice with ample cheese in a laid back environment, Pie Face is a good choice.

Name: Pie Face Pizza Co.
Address: 239 W. 2nd St.

Phone #: 775-622-9222
Pizza Type:  American
Oven: Gas
Slices? Y
Large Pizza Cost:  $19

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Nu Yalk Pizza

Nu Yalk Pizza sells, you guessed it, New York style thin crust pizza.  Nu Yalk traces its family lineage back to a Staten Island pizzeria first opened in 1919,  so if you looking for a New York local pizzeria experience, complete with a Yankees or Giants game on the TV, then this is the place.

The pizza is cooked in a standard gas pizza oven.  It is a thin crust pizza, although not particularly thin by traditional New York standards.  Two departures from what I would regard as the typical New York pizza are 1) the edge crust is a bit thicker than the average New York style pie  2) because of the thicker than average edge, the slice does not readily fold in half. They also serve Sicilian style pizza, but I have not tried that.

Ba da bing: A Nu Yalk Cheese Pizza

I ordered my standard benchmark pizzas: a plain cheese and a pepperoni.  Both were well made and properly cooked.  The pepperoni could have been a bit more seared/crunchy, but was still good.  What makes both pizza above average is the crust. The crust has an excellent crisp, but not hard texture, and it is fairly chewy and relatively light.   Nu Yalk obviously spends time preparing their dough and it shows.  The sauce is also distinctive.  It’s tough to pin down exactly what makes it different, but Nu Yalk clearly has been passing down a distinctive family recipe.  I should also note that Nu Yalk uses organic flour, sauce and spices for their pizza.

A medium pepperoni from Nu Yalk

In June of 2012, Nu Yalk moved from its old location (on the corner of Moana & Kiekze) to a brand new building on South Virginia Ave. in the South Meadows area.  The building is a modern design that is very light and airy with tons of windows and very high ceilings.  In addition to the regular tables there are also a number of computer terminals that patrons can sit at and surf the web while they chow down on their slice.

Nu Yalk is a fast casual pizzeria where you order at a counter and pick-up your pizza at another counter.  There are plenty of seats dining seats, both inside and out, to enjoy your pie while you watch a game or you can just get you pie to go.  They also, like all good New York pizzerias, sell slices and the slices are nice and big.

If you close you eyes while eating a slice and just listen to the counter guys yell out orders while the giants game blares from several TVs at once, it almost seems like you have been teleported back to the New York, almost.

For anyone who misses the classic New York pizzeria experience and high quality pizza, Nu Yalk is a good choice.  The pizza is distinctive and well made with an excellent crust and organic ingredients.  The crust may be a bit thicker and not as foldable as some New York pizza purists would demand, but it’s still a very good pizza and worth a try.

Name: Nu Yalk Pizza
Address: 9780 S. Virginia St. Reno, NV 89511Add an Image
Phone #: 775-826-8508
Pizza Type:  New York
Oven: Gas
Slices? N
Large Pizza Cost:  $19

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zPizza

On Warren Way, just off Moana, you will find the only Nevada franchise of zPizza.  zPizza has grown into a large international chain by trumpeting its focus on organic ingredients including organic dough and sauce.  It also offers vegan pizzas (made with vegan cheese), gluten-free pizzas, and pizzas made with whole wheat flour.  All meat toppings are also MSG-free including its “pure pepperoni” which comes with no MSG, no preservatives, and no nitrates.    If Whole Foods were a pizzeria, it would be a lot like zPizza.

A 100% Organic Cheese Pizza from zPizza

The pizza is cooked in a conventional gas pizza oven.  It’s a thin crust pizza, but unlike a New York Style pizza which has a robust edge crust and gets progressively thinner as you get to the center of the pizza, zPizza has a small crust on the edge and actually gets a bit thicker as you approach the center.  Still pretty thin overall though.

The crust on my pizza, as you can see below, was reasonably thin, but lacked significant bubble structure.  This means it ends up being fairly dense without a lot of chewiness or crispness.

The edge is thinner than the center crust

As for the organic sauce and cheese, they put a healthy amount of sauce and cheese on the pizza, more than you would find on a Neapolitan pizza, but not as much as you might find on a heavy American style pizza, such as a Costco pizza.

Do the organic flour, sauce and other ingredients make a big difference?  From my perspective, I really couldn’t taste a significant difference, but I don’t think they are selling a distinct organic taste, so much as they are selling the piece of mind some folks get from knowing that they are eating organic foods.

The restaurant itself is situated just of Moana in a small strip mall on Warren Way.  As you walk in there’s a counter to order the pizza and then there’s a seating area that fits about 25 people in the back.  You order at the counter and they will bring your pizza out.

zPizza could use a fung schui consultant and a professional organizer

One thing that struck me as a bit odd is that there were racks of ingredients outside of the counter/cooking area.  It’s like their storage room wasn’t big enough so they just decided to put a lot of stuff out in the open. In addition, in the seating area there was a TV/Karaoke setup with lots of wires hanging out.  While the seating area itself was nice, in general the space had a bit of disheveled look to it.

Organic goodness awaits you inside!

 

Overall, if organic and/or vegan pizza is very important to you, then you will definitely want to check out zPizza.  They clearly take this focus seriously and have made a significant effort to insure that all of their ingredients conform with their healthy, organic focus.   That said, the pizza itself is not terribly memorable.  As you might expect with a large chain, they’ve taken a distinct “middle of the road” approach and it shows.  It’s certainly not bad pizza, especially when compared to other large chains, but it’s not great pizza either.

 

Name: zPizza
Address: 3600 Warren Way Reno NV 89509
Phone #: 775-828-6565
Pizza Type:  American
Oven: Gas
Slices? N
Large Pizza Cost:  $19

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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

OK it’s not in Reno but I am doing a public service by reviewing it because I believe that Tony’s makes some of the best, if not the best, pizza’s in USA.

I know, I know, this is quite a statement to make, but don’t take my word for it, take the word of the World Pizza Cup which Tony Gemignani, the restaurant’s chef/owner, won in 2007.  He was the 1st American and 1st non-Neapolitan to win this event and from what I can taste, he earned it.

A coal fired masterpiece from Tony’s

I’ve eaten in many of the best pizza restaurants in the US and in my mind what really sets Tony’s apart from the other high-end competition in the US is that unlike other places which typically specialize in only one kind of pizza, Tony’s is a Tour De Force of world class pizza making.  He has not one, but 4 different pizza ovens (gas, coal, electric, and wood) making everything from classic Neapolitan, to Sicilian, to NewYork, to California, to Detroit, to St. Louis Style (really?), to you name it.  The only style he really doesn’t have is deep dish Chicago.

The breadth and depth of the pizza menu is mesmerizing.  It’s also a bold statement by Tony that he has the confidence and the chops to make almost any style of pie out there.  It’s as if he has thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the pizza making world.  Bravo Tony!

What’s more, no matter what the style, the pizza’s are almost always awesome.  The wood-fired, award winning Neapolitan Margherita lives up to its award.  The crust is airy, chewy, textured and light.  The sauce and cheese, just right.  In a word, amazing.  I’ve had about 8 pizza’s here and not a single one missed.  They were all cooked to perfection with authenticity and real craftsmanship.

If you really love and appreciate good pizza, you must go to Tony’s and order as many different style of pies as you can.  You will not regret it.

The restaurant itself is located in the North Beach section of San Francisco, famous for it’s sidewalk cafes and lack of parking.  It’s a sit down, full service restaurant with a full bar and and two separate small dining rooms.  The menu includes several appetizers and salads, but beyond that it’s just pizza (and thankfully so).  The server’s are quite knowledgeable about the different pizzas and clearly take their pizzas seriously. Service is generally fast and efficient, though sometimes a bit hectic because the place is usually packed.

Tony’s is right on the corner of Stockton & Union St.

If I had one complaint it’s that they don’t take reservations.  You have to show up and put you name on a list.  On a busy night, it can be a long wait!  If you just can’t wait, here’s a secret: attached to the restaurant is a walk-up pizzeria serving both slices and pies, so if you can’t stand the wait you can still get your Tony’s fix, albeit in a much more casual atmosphere.

The amazing thing to me is that the pizza’s are reasonably priced, starting at $19 for most plain cheese (including the award winning Margherita).  It’s a fantastic deal for the quality of the ingredients and craftsmanship that goes into each pie.

In short, Tony’s is perhaps the perfect pizza restaurant.  It has an amazing array of world class pizzas crafted by an award winning chef at surprisingly reasonable prices.  It could use a reservation system, bigger space, and better parking, but that’s a small price to pay for what might be some of the best pizza you’ll get anywhere.

 

NameTony’s Pizza Napoletana
Address: 1570 Stockton St.  San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone #: 415-835-9888
Pizza Type:  Thin Crust
Oven: Gas, Coal, Electric, Wood
Slices? Y (at the attached pizzeria)
Large Pizza Cost:  $19

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Grimaldi’s

There’s no Brooklyn Bridge in Sparks, Nevada, but there is a Grimaldi’s.  Grimaldi’s, as you may know, is a highly regarded New York “old-school” Pizzeria whose original location is directly under the Brooklyn Bridge (on the Brooklyn side).  It has built an excellent reputation for turning out classic coal-fired New York style thin crust pizzas.  Grimaldi’s was founded by former employees of Patsy’s (which some say has the best pizza in NYC) and while it may not be the best, it often ranks in the Top 10 pizzerias of NYC which is no small feat.

Grimalid’s has now expanded to over 30 locations across the county and one of them, luckily enough, just so happens to be located at The Legands Mall is Sparks, NV.  If you are in the Reno area and craving an authentic, coal-fired, thin-crust New York style pizza.  Look no further.  Head directly to Grimaldi’s because while this location may be relatively brand new and thousands of miles from Brooklyn, they are cooking it old-school New York style here.

As I said, Grimalidi’s pizza’s are coal fired.  Coal firing is a feature you will most often find in old-school East Coast pizzeria’s, especially in the New York/New Haven areas.  While Neapolitan purests insist wood is the only way to go, Coal has many of same benefits of wood (smokey, earthy aftertastes) and is often hotter than wood ovens which some claim produces better textures.  Coal (and wood) ovens are expensive to fire, clean and maintain, and that’s why you don’t see that many of them out there even though most people would agree they produce better pies.

A coal-fired pepperoni pizza from Grimaldis

 

Grimaldi’s version of coal fired pizza produces a light, crisp, yet chewy thin crust with good bubble structure.  Grimaldi’s also claims to have a special “secret” sauce and uses hand made mozzarella cheese. The sauce is actually quite good and the ingredients, including the cheese are 1st rate.

I particularly liked the pepperoni.  Not only was the pepperoni itself of high quality, but I find that the intense head of coal-fired ovens tends to crisp-up the edges of pepperoni perfectly.

The restaurant is located in the southwest corner behind Scheels.  It is a sit down casual restaurant with full table service.  There’s no outdoor dining but plenty of seats inside.  The menu includes a few salads but beyond that it is just pizzas.  There is a good selection of beers and wines as well.   Service was reasonably fast, friendly, and efficient.

After you are done shopping at Scheels, be sure to head here!

Large pizza’s (18 inch) are a surprisingly low $16 which is a very good deal given that it’s below what most other pizzeria’s charge for a large despite Grimaldi’s having the higher costs of the coal-fired oven and high quality ingredients.

Overall, Grimaldi’s is a fantastic addition to the Reno-area pizza scene because it provides a top tier, authentic old school New York style coal-fired pizza at a very reasonable price without having to drive 3,000 miles to get it.

 

Name: Grimaldi’s
Address: 1180 Scheel’s Drive, Sparks, NV 89434
Phone #: 775-356-7373
Pizza Type:  Thin Crust
Oven: Coal
Slices? N
Large Pizza Cost:  $19

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Blue Moon Gourmet Pizza

I’ve been to Blue Moon Gourmet Pizza a few times for lunch. Each time I’ve had the lunch special (1 slice, a salad, and a drink for $7.50) plus an extra slice. I usually have just a plain slice and a pepperoni slice as I am trying to use these “benchmark pizzas” as a basis for comparison to other places in town.

The Lunch special with a slice of cheese and a slice of pepperoni

Truth be told, such “benchmarking” really isn’t fair to Blue Moon because their focus isn’t so much on the core pizza so much as it is on their gourmet “Blue Moon Style” topping combos, such as Yale’s Thai (Hoisin sauce, cheese, chicken, green onions, peanuts and shredded carrots) and Luna Azul (Refried beans, salsa, shredded chicken, olives, jalapenos, cheese, and lettuce). I have to give them props for their creativity and variety!

As to the core components of their pizza (crust, sauce, cheese), let me state up front that I’ve only had their slices and slices are usually a poor way to judge a pizza because they almost always are from pizzas made some time ago and then reheated. Reheating slices tends to harden the bottom and you really can’t replicate the “fresh out of the oven” taste no matter what you do. All that said, Blue Moon is above average, but not great, thin crust pizza. The pizzas are made from white flour and cooked in a standard gas pizza oven. The dough doesn’t appear to have a sourdough base as it lacks the chewyness you’d expect from sourdough. The crust is thin and not very pronounced (which can be good or bad depending on what you prefer). The sauce is on the sweet side for my taste, but not terribly remarkable one way or the other. Same thing goes for the cheese. I do like the oregano sprinkled on the slices though but had a hard time tasting it.

Neat, causual, and ... blue interior

The restaurant is a classic casual sit down pizza restaurant. There are about 25-30 seats so it can accommodate groups without much of a problem and it is a clean, well lit space. There is no outdoor seating.  You order at the counter, but if you are eating in, they bring the food to your table. Service is friendly and low key. There are some salads and calzones and menu, but this is clearly a pizza joint first and foremost. They do take-out but not delivery.

Blue Moon is on the right, on the south side of California

As to location, they are located on California Avenue very close to the southern side of downtown Reno making this an easy walk for lunch from courthouses or office buildings there.

Overall, I’d have to say that Blue Moon gets good marks for service, creativity and effort. The core pizza is above average and better than most chains, but not terribly distinctive which isn’t surprising given their focus on the Blue Moon Style gourmet topping combos.

Name: Blue Moon Gourmet Pizza
Address: 190 California Street Reno, NV 89509
Phone #: 775-324-2828
Pizza Type:  Thin Crust
Oven: Gas
Slices? Y
Large Pizza Cost:  $18.23

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