So, to date, I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I have been to Las Vegas more times that I can count. Vegas is my Pleasure Island. I won’t go through all the similarities, because i’m sure there’s a Buzzfeed list for that, but just know that I love it, and I imagine that it is more fun than Disneyland. In recent trips, rather than staying on “The Strip” I’ve stayed in Downtown Las Vegas, near Fremont Street.
Many hotels have been renovated, and the atmosphere, while a bit more sketchy at times (I was spit on by a bum first thing in the morning) is much more chill. Drinks are cheaper, table limits are lower, and it is so much more walkable. There is great art all around. You avoid the giant crowds of what AP has coined as “meanderthals”, who have no idea where they are going and want to stop and take pictures of everything every 10 steps.
Downtown Las Vegas is also home to two of my favorite things in Vegas, Sigma Derby and Pizza Rock. Here’s where we break our 52 Weeks of Pizza rule, about only trying new pizza places this year, because I love Pizza Rock so much. I spent the whole drive home thinking about the way I would describe Pizza Rock to people who have never been there, or heard of it. Can I call it a pizza mecca? It is certainly a place that any pizza lover needs to visit while they are there.
Pizza Rock is just one of the many restaurants created by 11-time world pizza champ Tony Gemignani. A man who has been working and perfecting pizza for 25 years. His life motto is “Respect the Craft”, and what he does with pizza is near witchcraft. It’s magical. (See places outside of Disneyland can be magical too.)
As soon as you walk into Pizza Rock you’re greeted with the aroma of fresh bread. You will immediately see a slice counter, where you’ll find the best pizza for the best price in Downtown Las Vegas. Don’t let the urge to grab a slice while waiting for a table get you, because what they have to offer over and above slices, will blow your mind.
When you truly love pizza, you want to do it right. That is why Pizza Rock has FIVE different ovens of different styles and temperatures, to ensure that each regional pizza is cooked the way it was meant to be cooked. The menu is huge, and I guarantee that you will have a very very very hard time picking your pizza. You will want them all. I was tempted just to ask our server for a pizza flight, so I could taste everything from neapolitan to Sicilian. They also server more unique pies like the Chicago Cracker Thin (which sounds great because I’m not a fan of deep dish) and Detroit style pizza.
After much deliberation and negotiation, we settled on what we would have this trip. The La Regina (Italian for queen), was created not by Tony, but by Laura Meyer, a pizzaiolo who has studied with Tony, and was an Gold Cup Winner at the International Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy. It’s a Sicilian style pizza, which I was very excited about, because it’s not a style of pizza that you normally find in Tucson.
While the 500 degree gas brick oven works it magic on our pizza, we sip on some tasty beers. To accompany my pizza, I opted for a Pizza Port Swami’s IPA. Was it the best pairing for the pizza? In hindsight, no, but it seemed fitting at the time.
In a matter of minutes, our server strolled out, carrying our La Regina, like a crown ready to be placed before us. Jewels prosciutto and sopressata scattered across its surface. Shavings of Parmigiana-reggiano twinkling between the emerald green of the fresh arugula. They arugula emitting a warm peppery aroma as it begins to wilt ever so slightly from the heat of the focaccia style crust and sweet tomato sauce. Describing this in writing is growing extremely difficult, because I just want to hop in my car and drive back to Vegas to get this pizza again, so I’ll just get to the breakdown.
Breaking down the pie:
Crust: Amazing texture combinations. The Sicilian style is reminiscent of focaccia, and in fact, in The Pizza Bible, there is a recipe for focaccia. Based on appearance alone, you might think you’re in for a heavy filling crust, but the experience is far from that. I initially described it as a pizza pillow. It’s soft, light, airy, and oh so flavorful. The bottom is perfectly crisp, and if you were to fight me for a corner piece, you’d find that it has a great crunch. Because they dough is so carefully prepared and proofed for over 24 hours, you get a great easily digestible crust.
Toppings: Excellent ratio of toppings to crust. The quality of the ingredients was fabulous.
Sauce: Vine ripened tomato sauce, from tomatoes imported from Italy, were balanced with both sweet and tangy notes. It was not sauce heavy, which really added to the lightness of each slice.
Overall: The La Regina ($32 for a giant pizza fit to feed at least 5 people, or 2 pizza loving adults over the course of 2 days) 🍕🍕🍕 🍕🍕 out of 5 slices. (Yeah, still thinking about reworking this scale…) Pizza Rock is incredible, and I can’t speak its praises enough. It is a must visit, if you are in Downtown Las Vegas, and worth the trip off Strip to enjoy. Find out for yourself why it’s on the Eater 38 for Vegas. I’ll be looking forward checking more of their pizzas off my pizza bucket list.
201 North 3rd Street at Downtown Grand
Las Vegas, NV 89101
One more slice shot for the road.