Pie Face pizzas, thin and inventive, reach a new high

Posted by: Staff
Posted: February-22-13


My apologies to Pie Face Pizza Co. Mea culpa. Mea magna culpa.The pizzeria occupies the old Saigon Pearl storefront on West Second Street, within a short walk of at least 10 bars.
When Pie Face opened, I was all too prepared to believe that servicing soused patrons disgorged by the bars was Pie Face's raison d'etre, perhaps with a hipsterish gloss.
Yes, skinny jeans and scruff, knit caps and tats are in plentiful supply at Pie Face, but there's none of that off putting, "cool kids" smugness you find at a few other new Reno spots.
And really, what does hipster matter when you overhear the young, twenty-something staff wax rhapsodic over fashioning meatballs, inspired toppings or the perfect crust?
The issue of what makes great pizza is endlessly contentious.
That said, the pizza at Pie Face isn't a sports bar afterthought or a family-night substitute for Facebook and video games. It doesn't need a dipping sauce crutch (though there's sriracha if you want it).
Pie Face Pizza is pizza taken seriously, and on the evidence of five visits -- three to dine in, two acts of take out -- it now offers the most accomplished pies in Northern Nevada.
So thin
Rotisserie chicken and almost translucent slices of uncured pepperoni consort with scallions, red pepper and zaps of red onion atop the backyard chicken pizza.
Barbecue sauce is present, as you'd expect, but it's deftly and lightly applied, just enough to anchor the toppings.
Its crust, like all Pie Face pizzas, is vegan friendly, crisp and extravagantly thin. As in whippet-thin, cracker thin, almost micron thin. For those accustomed to chicken pizzas soaked in barbecue sauce, Pie Face's version will prove a revelation.
There's a similar light hand at work in a trio of beautifully seasoned meatballs graced with marinara, mozzarella and aged pecorino. They're not the least bit rubbery or dense, a sign the meat has been properly handled (which is to say, not overhandled).
A calzone arrives puffed and golden, its edge sealed in the manner of papillote; ricotta and marinara ooze forth.
Monte Crispo
Nothing feels generic at Pie Face Pizza.
A leather couch and flat-screen television nook off the entry compose a man-cave of sorts -- while simultaneously commenting on pizza as a man-cave accessory.
Move ahead to find gilt-framed mirrors, gilt-framed Pie Face T-shirts; look up, and faux squares of pressed tin line a dropped ceiling. A belly-up-with-a-slice bar runs along one wall, while banquettes run along the other.
There are self-conscious nods to lowbrow culture like Night Train (is it a kind of a wine thingy?) and Pabst Blue Ribbon, true, but Pie Face also serves a rich yet acidic Bex riesling.
The pizzeria can get fearsomely busy, especially late on weekends, or on tipsy wine walk Saturdays as folks line up to soak up all the cheap vino.
But when things are quieter, order counter staffers are happy to chat about meatball techniques or the right prosciutto or the timeline for the installation of a fryer to make possible the Monte Crispo, a rotisserie chicken, prosciutto and red onion slice that's battered, deep fried and served with powdered sugar and jam.
Me want.
I also love the serve-yourself plastic water dispenser, the tray set with hot condiments, and the roll of recycled paper towels on tables. Every pizzeria should do that, because if there's one thing unforgiveable with pizza, it's being stingy with napkins.
Delivery acquits itself nicely, too.
One recent Saturday evening, the pizza guy and I share laughs as I struggle, in a high wind in front of my downtown building, to chase down a rogue $20, pay him and take possession of a large steer head pizza as big across as a sundial.
The delivery arrives in 20 minutes, as promised, and the pizza is none the worse for its travels: there's still an ideal tussle among perfectly seasoned meatballs, sweet caramelized onions and sharp salty jabs of aged pecorino.
Pie Face's specialty pizzas are almost all equally tempting, so on two visits, my party does split pies (there's a $2 charge).
The S/C/L - Fritz combo celebrates deeply savory sausage, the pop of goat cheese and, on the S/C/L side, leeks you can actually taste. The blistered crust leaves a smudge on my fingers.
The Resa-T. pane union, however, is more a marriage of opposites
With T. pane's gently crisp Granny Smith slices needing to cool for their flavors to emerge, while Resa's sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and jalapenos immediately commence scuffling (and really, how could it be otherwise?).
New high
Pie Face's pizza is ambitious, no doubt. And stumbles might lie ahead (perhaps as toppings are pushed to the limits of compatibility).
The available records of the Reno Gazette-Journal reveal that no pizzeria has been awarded more than 31/2 stars overall. But Pie Face Pizza has reached high enough, imaginatively enough and consistently enough to snag four of them.
As I said, this is pizza taken seriously.
pie face pizza co.
Address: 239 W. Second St.
Phone: 755-622-9222
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday;
11 a.m. to midnight Monday and Tuesday;
11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday;
11 a.m. to late Thursday; 11 a.m. to very late Friday and Saturday
Price range: $3.50 to $25
Children's menu: No
On the Web:
Overall: 4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Food: 4 stars
Service: 3 1/2 stars
Atmosphere: 3 1/2 stars
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