Editor's note: From time to time, Slice correspondents leave New York City. When they do, they always bring back the lowdown on New Yorkstyle pizza in other parts. Here, Slice roving reporter E-Rock chronicles his recent trip to Sin City. His multipart dispatch coincidentally coincides with the New York Times's own weeklong series on America's City of Lights.
Fear and Loathing: Pizza in Las Vegas?
Some people might think Slice staffers have it easy, living the high life, eating every day at Patsy's and Tottono's. We do ride in those circles, but every now and then we have to brush our shoulders off, get our hands dirty, and ride into the unknown.
And so it was with me last week. In Las Vegas for work, E-Rock naturally was curious about the pizza situation in that bizarre town. Facing a week of twelve-hour days, my only window to try something off the Strip (where I figured I would have the best chance of getting a decent slice) was right after arriving, on Saturday afternoon.
E-Rock doesn't know shit about Vegas, except that it's legal to walk around with an open container, the weather's hot, and the tourists on the Strip make Times Square seem like Nebraska. Not having any contacts there, I had to rely on Citysearch. Two places piqued my curiosity: New York Pizza & Pasta, which had the highest ranking, and Brooklyn Boys, which I couldn�t resist, having recently relocated to that borough from Manhattan.
Like I said, I was short on time. I flew into Vegas from Newark, got a cab, and checked into the Palms. I walked through a sea of slot machines to my room, had a mini-bar Corona, and was ready to go. Vegas has almost no public transportation. I wasn't about to mess with figuring out the bus system, so I pretty much had to rely on taxis. I went down to the Palms� cab line and told them where I was going. E-Rock figured that Brooklyn Boys would be the best photo opportunity, so I gave the cab driver the address, 6847 West Flamingo Road, on the same street as the Palms, about 2 miles away from the Strip. What was I visiting, the cabbie asked. E-Rock told him it was a pizza place, and in a thick Eastern European accent, he said: "Probably Pizza Hut. I come from Europe, and pizza in America is terrible compared to over there." I was a little too freaked out to argue with him, being in the back of a minivan taxi, driving through the stripmall-laden outskirts of Vegas. We located the shopping center Brooklyn Boys was in, but had trouble finding the restaurant. There was a bar and grill type of place that the cab driver kept insisting was probably it, but no Brooklyn Boys. E-Rock�s eyes fell upon one tiny storefront with a leasing sign on it. Could it be? Yes: Brooklyn Boys had shut down!
Luckily, the cab driver said my backup destination, New York Pizza & Pasta, was close by, and I called first just to make sure they were open. I have failed to mention that my pizza expectations of Las Vegasa gigantic sprawling place where chain restaurants abound and where every business is in a stripmallwere extremely low. (They should call the entire city the Strip, not just the area on Las Vegas Boulevard.) This does not seem like a good climate for fine pizza. I was afraid my cab driver might be correct.
When E-Rock entered New York Pizza & Pasta, there were maybe seven people in the restaurant. It was, after all, about 3 p.m. Everyone there seemed to know each other. A little jarred from the cab experience, I quickly ordered the lunch special: Two plain slices and a soft drink for $4.64. They put the slices in the oven for a reheat, and, while I was waiting, the guy making the pizza (I assume he was one of the owners) came over and asked if I had come directly from the airport. Pretty much, I said. We got to talking, and he told me the place had opened in 1996 after he had moved to Vegas from Canarsie. That�s promising, I thought.
When the pizza came out, I was astounded. The slices were nice and thin, with a crisp, chewy, golden-brown crust. The cheese was gooey and evenly distributed, and the sauce had a nice flavor, with a just spike of oregano. This was some good stuff. E-Rock ate them down pretty quickly and decided that if New York Pizza & Pasta were in my Brooklyn neighborhood, I would frequent it. If you ever go to Vegas and want a decent slice, this is The Place to go.
I called the cab company, gave them the address, and told them I needed a car. The dispatcher wanted to know what was there, and I told her. "Sounds like fun," she said, in a smart-ass tone. Well, it was fun. Except that I had to wait for the damn cab for about twenty minutes in a parking lot, getting killed by the blazing hot sun, and dropped about $30 in cab fare for a $6 lunch.