Give pizza a chance

Alex Jako crafts Wild Garlic's eponymous pizza.

Alex Jako crafts Wild Garlic's eponymous pizza.

Photo/Allison Young

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Thin crust, thick crust, deep dish, stuffed, folded, you name it, and there’s a pizza style for everyone. I’m personally so fond of the stuff I’ve spent a fair amount of time perfecting my own version, a pursuit in applied obsessive-compulsion if ever there was one. Pizza has to be better than average for me to enjoy it, and I really enjoyed the pie at Wild Garlic Pizza.

Located in the Old Southwest area of Reno, this “neighborhood pizza joint” is a hipster dream of spartan design. With bare brickwork walls, rough-hewn wooden beams, a variety of craft beers on tap, and a collection of mismatched thrift store furniture, the only thing missing is roll-up doors. Then again, it does have large, unadorned windows letting in plenty of natural light. Every table has a giant bottle of honey, which—though not unique to this establishment—is still a trend I just can’t abide. I respect pizza too much, and care too little for honey to let the two of them party on the same plate. My honey-loving wife tried dipping her crust in the stuff and made a face, so it’s not just me. Perhaps we’re just not hip enough to get it.

On a Sunday afternoon, my wife and I seated ourselves and were greeted by a pair of gents, an older man whose attitude said, “Boss,” and a college-aged fellow who may have been in training as he followed “Boss” around. I inquired about beers on tap and was vaguely directed by the older man to a chalkboard menu located 30 feet to the rear of my seat. The young man jumped in and recited the beer selection, as would be expected in response to that inquiry. Maybe “Boss” isn’t big on answering basic questions.

I ordered a tall craft beer ($6), a pair of side salads ($4.95), an order of pesto knots ($6.95) and two 10-inch pizzas, ($9.95 each). The beer came out pretty quick, but after 20 minutes we began to wonder how long it takes to plate a couple of small salads. At 25 minutes we watched a table that had just been seated receive meal-sized salads. Finally, nearly 40 minutes after ordering, our salads and appetizer were delivered by “Boss” with pizzas joining 10 minutes later. Perhaps I was wrong about who was training whom.

The salads were fair but nothing special, with long strips of Romaine rather than chopped or torn greens. The dough knots supposedly “stuffed with pesto and Parmesan cheese” didn’t appear to be stuffed with anything. There were some bits of basil and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan, but no stuffing. My wife noted a residue on the plate that did taste pesto-ish, so perhaps it was in there before the trip through the oven. A pasty, bland tomato sauce provided for dipping was quickly set aside in favor of leftover dressing from the salads. Yet, we enjoyed the knots for what they were: golden, crispy, chewy bits of perfectly baked pizza dough.

That dough is among the best pizza crusts you’ll find in Reno. It’s a little sweeter than I’d normally prefer (see bottles of honey on tables), but it’s rolled out thin for a crispy bottom and then ringed with a chewy, golden twist to rein in the toppings. We enjoyed “The Everything” (tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, black olives, mushrooms, tri-color peppers, red onions and garlic), but the Wild Garlic was our favorite (garlic sauce, mozzarella, chicken, red onion, pepperoncini, grated Parmesan and roasted garlic). It had a lot of zip and the flavors blended well.

Next time we’ll stick with the pizza and beer, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s good enough to wait for, and I’ll just make sure to choose a seat that’s facing the menu.