Desert Companion

Free Pizza!


Photography by Christopher Smith

No fruit? Always round? Has to be Italian? Get your laws off my pizza — and taste these renegade slices that break the rules in all the right ways

For what’s essentially flavored bread, American pizza can get culturally complicated. From regional rivalries over crust styles (New York vs. Chicago) to biases against certain toppings (aloha, pineapple), pizza is beset by culinary rules. But rules are for squares. As long as pizzas are
made with quality ingredients and crafted with care, it’s all good. Let’s leave pie prejudices behind. Free pizza!


Broke Rule 1: Real pizza is round (and thin)



For some, a thin, 360-degree pizza shape is the Platonic ideal. It’s the cheesy circumference of baked perfection. In this mindset, other shapes are the easy way out. It’s merely stuffing dough in a rectangular pan and letting it puff up. This is so wrongheaded. To wit, try the lofty, Detroit-style pepperoni quadrilaterals at Pop Up Pizza in the Plaza Hotel (hip tip: Ask for a corner piece). Or, revel in the sophisticated Sicilian stretches served at Pizzeria Monzú,  including the delectable ‘Nduja  made with the namesake peppery, spreadable Calabrian sausage, Gorgonzola, walnuts, and honey. At the new La Strega Trattoria, the Quattro Formaggi is a folded-over mezzaluna of gooey, sage-scented Old World deliciousness. And, while some might say that towering, Windy City-style deep dish pies are actually casseroles — round as they may be — lighten up and fork into a hefty slice from the venerable Chicago Taste of Amore. It’s pizza all the way even if it’s not flat and foldable. (,,,

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Broken Rule 2: “Healthy” pizza isn’t tasty

If you’re hungry but watching what you eat, the prospect of enjoying a healthy pizza might bring to mind heating up a drab, dry, store-bought frozen “diet” platter. Blech. Instead, shut the freezer door and head out to several Southern Nevada restaurants for truly salubrious slices. If you’re in the keto crowd, visit the immense and attractively designed California Pizza Kitchen in Downtown Summerlin and select a cauliflower crust. At Good Pie, sink your teeth into a crispy-edged hunk of award-winning, gluten-free Grandma pie. Or, venture to Naked City Pizza on Paradise Road and savor the veggie-forward Bee’s Knees and its garden of vegan mozzarella, fennel, baby spinach, mushrooms, radishes, and fennel pollen. (,,


Broken Rule 3: Say ‘No way” to pineapple or any other fruit

The whole concept of pineapple on pizza is laughable to many — Hawaiian-style pizzas are for kids, at best, right? Some folks extend the idea to fruit in general. But sweetness rules the school. Hula dance into the city’s numerous Metro Pizza locations for the tropical Honolulu with ham and bacon. Pineapple and pork get a Southeast Asian twist at Gianna’s Pizza, where the exuberantly named Fawsome pie features a sweet chili-sauce kick. And, at the valley’s two Settebello outposts, produce like peaches, figs, and even flower petals are known to appear on daily specials. (,,


Broken Rule 4: Hold the anchovies … and all the seafood for that matter

Wild Baccala pie

Wild Baccala pie

A lot of  folks wholeheartedly think (especially when it comes to umami-rich but fragrant anchovies) that pizza should be all turf, no surf. But that surely doesn’t include fans of Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria & Bar’s white pie with littleneck clams, Grana Padano cheese, and Meyer lemons. At the two bustling Pizza Rock locations, the sauceless Bianco Tonno Classico showcases sustainably sourced, Genova-brand yellowfin tuna, onions, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Finally, recently opened Ada’s in Tivoli Village bakes the wild Baccala pie: salt cod with saffron-infused potatoes and spicy tomatoes. It’s a gourmet mash-up of fish sticks and ‘za. (,,


Broken Rule 5: Real pizza has to be Italian

BBQ chicken pizza

BBQ chicken pizza

Sure, pizza was brought to the U.S. by Italian immigrants more than a century ago. But since then, American pie recipes have gone beyond relying on traditional ingredients like tomato sauce and mozzarella. For instance, Napoli Pizzeria’s taco pie says “¡hola!” with cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, jalapeños, and salsa.  The  BBQ chicken pizza 
at Brooklyn’s Best Pizza & Pasta brings the backyard flavor with Sweet Baby Ray’s “boss” sauce. And it’s California cuisine forever with the smoked salmon, Kaluga caviar, and dill cream celebration at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill Summerlin. (,,


Broken Rule 6:Pizza and ranch dressing should never meet

You might think that the only time a slice of pizza should touch ranch dressing is at a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, if even then. But, go for it! At the grocery store, pick up a bottle of buttermilky Ken’s Steak House-brand salad condiment (it’s made in a huge facility on Blue Diamond Highway) and dip away with your home-delivered Angelina’s Special from namesake Angelina’s Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen. Now you’re livin’ large! (

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