In Las Vegas, the Home-Style Pizza Is an Everything Pie

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In a city with the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle and an Egyptian pyramid all along the LED screen-lined Las Vegas Strip, it should be no surprise that seemingly every regional variety of pizza is available.

But what may surprise is the level of craft brought to pizza in Las Vegas. These pies aren’t from frozen balls of dough or assembly-line creations. They are the creations of people passionate about their craft who have also formed a tight-knit community where the pizzamakers share recipes and support each other.

“In order for us to make better pizza than there was 10 years ago, or a week ago, or yesterday, we have to be committed to helping each other in our community and our industry,” says the owner and pizzamaker at Good Pie, Vincent Rotolo, who relocated to Las Vegas from Brooklyn in 2011. “When that happens, that’s where the magic is.”

These days, Las Vegas has a thriving pizza scene, an open community of pizzaiolos (or pizzamakers) dedicated to expanding the profile of Sin City’s pizza scene, and embracing the influence of outsiders who are bringing hometown ideas to a city without a style of its own.

Mr. Rotolo and John Arena — who is something of the city’s pizza godfather, having moved to Vegas from Brooklyn in 1980 to buy a pizza shop — are two of the founders of the two-year-old Las Vegas Pizza Alliance. On any given day, they can be found with other local pizzamakers, bouncing around ideas and recipe tweaks.

The Alliance threw the city’s first Pizza Festival on Nov. 16, drawing a near-sellout crowd to an event space just off the Strip where, under a cloudless sky, locals and visitors alike got both a taste of the city’s many artisan pizzas, and takeout boxes filled with enough pizza to last for days.

Mr. Arena routinely travels to pizzerias, and also responds to questions from pizzaiolos from around the world, including Brazil and China. He’s even taught a class on the dish at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In one instance, Flour & Barley, a restaurant on the Strip, asked Mr. Rotolo to consult on its gluten-free pies, one of Mr. Rotolo’s specialties. The restaurant ended up taking first place in the category at the 2017 USA Caputo Cup, a pizza competition at the Pizza & Pasta Northeast, in Atlantic City, N.J.

To pay tribute to the grandma pie and the nonnas who made and make it, Mr. Rotolo has arranged a wall of photos of grandmothers — his and others (including the mid-90s “Grandmama” character that Larry Johnson, the former forward at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and pro basketball star, made famous in popular Converse commercials. That wall will expand, Mr. Rotolo says, as Good Pie plans its move this spring to the Las Vegas Arts District, alongside the up-and-coming neighborhood’s new bars, galleries and restaurants.

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