Celebrating 35 years of gathering some of the World’s best pizza makers, Las Vegas will once again host the International Pizza Expo from March 4th through March 7th. Set inside the Las Vegas Convention Center and spread across 1,400 booths, plus several seminars, many in the industry rightly consider this to be the event for both education and networking, in addition to a little friendly competition. From individual operators to large corporations, those in attendance will have a chance to not only learn from the best but also experience some truly great slices. Plus, for both those going and those unable to attend, Sin City offers no shortage of past and current participants.
Naked City Pizza: Although Christopher and Michael Palmeri were born in Buffalo, these two have made their presence felt in Las Vegas for over a decade. From humble beginnings inside Moon Doggies Bar & Grill on Arville to five current locations ranging from inside the El Cortez down to Henderson, guests visiting any Naked City can expect big flavors and constant innovation. Serving pizzas that lie halfway between Midwestern pan-style and New York Sicilian, Naked City makes it hard to go wrong with any House Special. The “Chicken Finger” includes blue cheese dressing, mozzarella and chicken fingers tossed with Frank's Red Hot, while the Guinea Pie, featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, also earns its accolades by way of white garlic sauce, spinach, housemade meatballs and ricotta.
Good Pie: Opened on National Pizza Day 2018 inside Pawn Plaza, it would be difficult to call Good Pie anything less than a labor of love. Dreamed up by Vincent Rotolo, the man who helped open several local pizza parlors prior to striking out on his own, this shop on Las Vegas Boulevard is a Brooklyn-style pizza shop where patrons will find nothing but top-quality ingredients and respect for tradition. Specializing in Grandma Pizza – thin squares that cook up crisp despite plenty of sauce and cheese – Good Pie also allows diners to feast on triangular slices topped in everything from artichokes and sausage to truffles and cream sauce. Truly a place for the people, Good Pie guests can also order fully Vegan pizzas both whole and by the slice while those sensitive to gluten will be delighted to know that Vince’s 2017 runner-up entry from the International Pizza Expo is always available, and every bit as good as his world-class Detroit-style.
Pizza Rock: With two locations, one inside Downtown Grand and the other at Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and Casino, Pizza Rock is truly a spectacle. Owned by the renowned Tony Gemignani, arguably America’s most gifted pizza-maker, both restaurants span a lengthy space with everything from multiple ovens to a big truck, where guests will find pizza-styles ranging from New York to California and even Naples. A 13-time World Pizza Champion and author of The Pizza Bible, it is from over twenty of his signature Pies that Gemignani invites guests to choose. Popular options include the New Yorker, with mozzarella, tomato sauce, house-made fennel sausage and pepperoni, or the Cal Italia, with four cheeses, fig preserves, Prosciutto di Parma and concentrated balsamic vinegar.
Cipriani: Although Cipriani’s story dates back eighty-five years in Italy, the concept’s 2018 Las Vegas debut marked a new era of region-specific Italian dining for Sin City. From classic carpaccio "alla Cipriani" to creamy baccala made the old-fashioned way, guests visiting the yacht-inspired space inside Wynn Plaza Shops are bound to be impressed, but a little-known secret is that Cipriani also makes Las Vegas’ best Neapolitan Pizza. Offered in at least three varieties daily, each the work of Pizzaiolo Ismaele Romano, Cipriani’s pies are crafted of fermented dough and top quality ingredients, and cooked in a custom-built oven. Fans in attendance at the Expo should look for Ismaele representing Cipriani on the competition floor.
Metro Pizza: With Las Vegas consistently named one of America’s top ten cities for pizza, it is impossible to imagine any of that would have happened without cousins John Arena and Sam Facchini, the two New Yorkers who opened Metro Pizza in 1980 and unknowingly ushered in decades of memories built on flour, tomatoes and cheese. The eatery has been dubbed “America’s Neighborhood Pizzeria,” but patrons will quickly realize that 99% of the U.S.A. would be improved by a Metro of their own. It is alongside Arena that Chris Decker and a talented staff spend long hours baking and studying with results. From stuffed to slices to Metro’s standard-setting 86th Street Square Pie, guests can always expect something great across six locations. With both John and Chris prominently featured at several Pizza Expo seminars, those in search of knowledge would be well advised to check the schedule, buy a ticket and arrive early for a lesson in passion, practice and longevity.