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In Las Vegas, pizzeria collaboration helps bring piece on Earth

Dan Burton/Unsplash

With profit margins as thin as a New York pie, the pizza business is highly competitive. But in Las Vegas, that doesn’t mean cutthroat.

Southern Nevada pizzeria owners frequently support each other informally and through The Las Vegas Pizza Alliance association, sharing culinary and business advice as they navigate today’s choppy economy.

Metro Pizza owner John “the Don of cheese” Arena, with five restaurants across Southern Nevada, is an institution in the Las Vegas pizza business. His location at Decatur Boulevard and Flamingo Road has been there since its “Miami Vice” decor was current, not retro.

“That kind of longevity really, is very rare in our industry, obviously,” said Arena, who added that one of his employees started when he was 14 and just turned 50.

Arena told State of Nevada that everything from a pizzeria’s familiar decor to customers individualizing their pies helps make pizza communal in its creation.

“There's collaboration between the person that's ordering the pizza and the person that's making the pizza,” Arena said. “The pizza becomes an expression of both who the guest is and who the pizza maker is.”

Fellow pizzeria owner Vincent Rotolo said Arena is known in the industry as the “pizza wizard” for his ability to help other restaurateurs deal with the industry’s challenges.

“When someone who's so well regarded within the industry takes time to just answer your phone calls and be your friend, it makes you feel worthy of being part of the industry,” said Rotolo, who owns Good Pie in downtown Las Vegas. “John has multiple different busy places, yet he's made time for me and for dozens of other aspiring pizza makers.”

That engagement led to the creation of The Las Vegas Pizza Alliance, a group of about two-dozen Southern restaurateurs. Rotolo said the organization shares best practices and promotes events, including the Las Vegas Pizza Festival, which was held once before the pandemic and is in the early stages of being revived.


John Arena, owner, Metro Pizza; Vincent Rotolo, owner, Good Pie

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports. She started at Nevada Public Radio in October 2021.