Reno, NV 89511
“Did you just say pizza balls?” I interjected into a conversation between two of my co-workers. Being a steadfast lover of all things pizza, I needed to know what in God’s name they were talking about. They told me about a new restaurant named Pace’s Pizza Balls at the Summit Sierra Mall, so I grabbed my wife, Kat, and my mother-in-law, Pam, and got down there as quickly as I could.
Meat and cheese are pizza staples, but I never thought I’d see the day fried dough was thrown in the mix. However, we Americans have an entrepreneurial food spirit, and this newfangled concoction is sure to make many of you drool, some of you queasy, and leave pizza purists all in a tizzy. Pace’s describes a pizza ball as “your favorite pizza toppings uniquely surrounded by an original golden crust specially handmade to order.” Unique and original is right. When was the last time you had your pizza toppings stuffed into a dough ball and flash fried? My guess is never.
Pace’s Pizza Balls occupies some prime realty right next to the movie theater. They serve the food up quickly, so should you find yourself short on time while frenziedly shopping or heading off to a movie, this might be the ticket. Pizza Balls has set their space up nicely with a playful chalk menu and classy cherry-colored wood construction around the register. It’s heavily geared toward the sports crowd, with flat screens and memorabilia decorating the walls. However, if you’re interested in interacting with your company while dining, Pizza Balls has an assortment of games, like chess, checkers and dice available.
The regular pizza balls, which are about the shape and size of a slightly flattened baseball, all run $3.95 and come with two little fried dough balls topped with powdered sugar. Pam ordered the fowl ball—grilled chicken, red onions and red peppers with barbecue sauce. Kat ordered the beach ball: Canadian bacon, pineapple and tomatoes. I picked the Wolf Pack ball: pepperoni, sausage, salami, onion, mushrooms, bell peppers and tomatoes, accompanied by a 16-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon ($2.50). The pizza balls come out a beautiful golden brown, and the crust had an enjoyable, slightly sweet flavor. And while I was slightly apprehensive, none of the pizza balls tasted greasy. However, the filling left something to be desired.
Neither Pam’s nor Kat’s pizza balls had much flavor, and Kat’s in particular seemed water-logged. My theory is flash frying doesn’t cook off the vegetable’s moisture quite like oven baking, and water isn’t the most flavorful ingredient. So Kat and I tried splitting a plain cheese ball, which was stuffed full of gooey cheese and by far the best of the group.
Pace’s Pizza Balls describes its fare as being a “perfect portion, perfect price,” which is a stretch. I left hungry and felt the food overpriced, especially when the server tried to charge me $.50 for a side of ranch. Of course, Pizza Balls does have two $5 weekday specials: the pizza ball of the day and 16 ounce fountain drink lunch special from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the pizza ball and 16 ounce domestic draft happy hour special from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., which is a little more enticing.
Pace’s pizza balls are certainly a novelty, and they make for a convenient, quick meal when you’re at the mall. But the next time I want pizza, I’m going to eat mine in slice form.