Sample pizzas prepared by Las Vegas’ top 20 pizza makers in the city’s first festival dedicated to the beloved pie. Each will be baking a different style, from New York to Roman, “so this isn’t 20 guys doing 20 pepperoni pies,” said Vincent Rotolo, one of the festival’s organizers and owner of Good Pie near downtown Las Vegas.
“Vegas doesn’t have its own style of pizza,” Ritolo said. “We’re transplants from all over America who brought their hometown pizza styles to Vegas and do that style really well, whether it’s Buffalo style at Naked City, Roman at Monzu or Detroit at Pizza Rock. We’re finally at a tipping point where we are becoming known as a pizza town.”
The festival on Nov. 16 is being presented by the Las Vegas Pizza Alliance, a tight-knit group of Vegas pizza makers who are some of the best in the business, even if hometown customers don’t always recognize the pizzaioli making their pies might be national or international pizza champions.
“We have pizza makers here who are more widely recognized around the world than they are in their own city,” said John Arena, co-owner of Metro Pizza and another festival organizer widely considered among his peers to be one of the top pizza experts in America. “We planned this festival so visitors and locals can come to one place and see the depth and breadth of our talent.”
Participating pizza makers include Metro and Good Pie, Pizzeria Monzu, Pizza Rock, Dom DeMarco’s, Naked City Pizza Shop, Brooklyn’s Best Pizza, Old School Pizzeria, Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana, Pop up Pizza and Carmine’s Pizza Kitchen.
Arena and Ritolo said each of the participating pizza makers was invited because he or she is an expert in a specific style of pie, which developed as the city’s growth exploded over the last 40 years.
“Pizza makers came to Vegas to work in hotels, then saw opportunities off the Strip to make and sell the kinds of pizzas they grew up with,” said Arena, who arrived in 1976. “Now they’re experts. The pizza makers at the festival all live here and were invited to participate. These are not amateur pizza makers who decided to open a pizzeria here; these are established, respected guys who live here and make great pizza here.”
The inaugural event is an opportunity for residents and visitors to learn — and taste — why pizza experts from all over the world view Vegas’ pizza makers with high regard.
“Pizza makers and even 10 world champions from all over the world are flying in on their own dime and paying for their own hotel just to support us,” Ritolo said. “But we told them they can’t set up their own booths. This is just us. The only pizza vendors will be from Las Vegas.”
Tickets to the family-friendly event cost $40 (free for children younger than 12 with a paying adult). They go on sale in August. The festival begins at 1 p.m. In addition to unlimited slices of pizza, the event includes a cash bar, cooking demos, a pizza acrobatic show by world champion Scott Volpe and other live entertainment.
Info: Las Vegas Pizza Festival