Las Vegas has a growing reputation for the quality and variety of pizza it offers, but that sometimes escapes those who live here.
“We’ve proven to the outside world that this is a good pizza city,” said John Arena, co-owner of Metro Pizza, “but the locals don’t see that.”
That’s because pizza is one of those foods that evoke particular memories, and if the pizza you get in your neighborhood here isn’t just like the one in your neighborhood back home, disappointment sets in.
“Whatever kind of pizza you’re looking for, it’s in this city somewhere,” Arena said.
To prove it, Arena, Good Pie owner Vincent Rotolo and other members of the Las Vegas Pizza Alliance will join with pizzaiolos from across the valley at the inaugural Las Vegas Pizza Festival on Nov. 16.
Rotolo said visitors’ appreciation of Las Vegas pizza hits home when customers ask him, “‘When are you bringing this to our town?’ People here need to appreciate what the industry is doing.”
At least 20 local pizza makers will work to drive the point home when they set up their booths and set out their pizzas. The festival will be at the Industrial Event Space at 2330 Industrial Road (near Sahara Avenue), with the pies prepared on the two acres of outdoor space. Seating will be available indoors and out, and there are indoor restrooms, Rotolo said. They’re billing it as a family event, unlike many food festivals, Arena said.
Struck by the example of an out-of-town festival where visiting pizzaiolos from Italy all made identical Pizza Margheritas, they say each booth will serve a different type. There may not be 20 categories of pizza, but as Rotolo pointed out, Roman pizza alone has four subsets.
They’re limiting the booths to around 20 because of first-year logistics and to ensure all of the participating pizza-makers share the spirit of collaboration Arena has fostered since he and cousin Sam Facchini opened Metro in 1980.
“We were here when there were so few pizza-makers, there was a pioneering spirit,” Arena said. “We worked together. We want the best pizza-makers in the city, but we want them to be like-minded. No competing. It’s about coming together as a really great culinary community.”
As of this week, participating restaurants include, in addition to Metro and Good Pie, Pizza Rock, Pop up Pizza, Dom DeMarco’s, Brooklyn’s Best Pizza, Naked City Pizza Shop, Old School Pizzeria, Pizzeria Monzu, Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana and Carmine’s Pizza Kitchen. One of the sponsors is Pizza Equipment Pros, which will provide the Forno Bravo wood-fired ovens, electric ovens or Cuppone’s new gas oven, which will debut at the festival.
They said pizza-makers from across the country have contacted them to offer to help out in the booths, all of which will be Las Vegas-based.
Admission will be $40 (free for children 8 and younger with a paying adult) for all the pizza you can eat. There will be a cash bar, a pizza acrobatic show by world champion Scott Volpe and other live entertainment. Tickets will be available at the festival website once it’s launched. Pizza-makers interested in participating can contact Rotolo at firstname.lastname@example.org.