Flavor abounds at Sabatino's Authentic N.Y. Pizzeria

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

I like to try a restaurant's specialty dishes whenever possible, and the Wild White pizza at Sabatino's Authentic N.Y. Pizzeria was not only marked that way, it was high on the list. And it intrigued me, the menu describing it as having "homemade garlic ranch smothered with Buffalo chicken with mozzarella sticks" ($13.99 to $20.99, depending on size). Plus, considering the ranchification of America, it struck me as emblematic of the era.

And I loved the New York-style thin crust, which was suitably stretchy with plenty of yeasty goodness and topped with cheese and ranch. The chunks of Buffalo chicken were large and meaty, the Buffalo sauce with just enough kick without overwhelming. The mozzarella sticks appeared to be garden-variety factory-issue, but they'd been sliced and distributed around the pizza, so there was a chunk of mozzarella here, a chunk of mozzarella there. The first slice was heaven, and I dug in eagerly. The second slice, not so much.

Why? Well, this was one ranchy pizza, in terms of the proportion of ranch to cheese (and in some spots much more than in others). Not that there's anything wrong with that, but after a while, it got kind of overwhelming.

The menu couldn't have been more clear, and as ranches go, this was a good one, creamy and tangy and with lots of herbs. It played quite well off the Buffalo chicken. But you really have to like ranch dressing to appreciate this pizza. So, no criticism there - this is obviously a personal preference - but fair warning.

While I have a definite appreciation for white pizzas, I'm thinking one of the red-sauced versions might have been a better choice, at least for me. We'd started with six garlic knots ($3.99; up to $10.99 for 24) and they were very nice representatives of their genre, stretchy and yeasty and with plenty of garlic without falling into the grease trap of a lot of knots. And they were served with the housemade marinara, which was a little on the thin side in consistency but not in flavor; this was a deep, well-steeped sauce clearly made with not only skill but soul.

A similarly flavored sauce graced our veal Parmesan ($15.99), only this time it was a lot thicker. The veal was tender and flavorful. Yes, it was one of those layered-and-compressed sorts of things, but for $15.99, we really weren't expecting Provimi. It had a blanket of respectable cheese, and the pasta and sauce alone elevated it above the norm. One quibble: We weren't brought either the bread or garlic knots the menu promised.

Service throughout was otherwise fine, our server letting us know how long things would take and refilling our beverages (note: no alcohol) regularly. Sabatino's clearly does a lot of takeout business and at first blush looks like a counter-service spot, but we were brought menus and served at the table, and the check presented there. And it had a very pleasant atmosphere, with booths and tables, deep colors on the walls, an attractive display of food in a case and banners from every New York sports team imaginable.

As we were finishing up, a couple were seated at a nearby table. They ordered a pepperoni pizza, and the man had a request for their server: "When the pizza's ready, will you bring me a side of ranch?"

Buddy, my pizza was calling your name. The marketing geniuses at Hidden Valley would be proud.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or email her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.