Killer combo

Pinder Dhillon slices a fresh combination pizza at Valley Pizza.

Pinder Dhillon slices a fresh combination pizza at Valley Pizza.

Photo/Allison Young

Valley Pizza is open Sunday through Thursday,10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Friday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There are over 61,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and more opening every day. Most cheap pizza leaves you wishing you’d had something else, and the spendy gourmet variety—while frequently delicious—can leave a sizable hole in your wallet. Finding a decent slice at a better-than-average price is tricky, but recently opened Valley Pizza has the combination figured out.

The first thing that stood out on the menu was the apparent value offered. A medium cheese pizza is just $4.99, and the specialty pies of the same size are $8.99. If building your own creation, toppings are 50 cents for small and medium, 75 cents for large, and a dollar for extra large. Though more than affordable, this made ordering specialty pies the obvious “best deal” of the house.

Our favorite was a garlic chicken pizza featuring cubed chicken breast, creamy garlic sauce, green bell pepper, red onion and plenty of mozzarella cheese on top. The crust was a good balance between thin and thick with a bit of crispness on the bottom, and the “pizza bones” held up well when dipped in Ranch dressing. The red sauce wasn’t a standout on spice, yet provided the basic presence that says “pizza.” Although my group agreed the chef could make some adjustments—to further crisp the crust and brown the cheese—the overall result was pretty tasty.

In second place, a traditional combination of pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, black olive, green bell pepper, red onion, fresh tomato and red sauce. Same story with crust, sauce and cheese. The sausage had a texture and flavor that told me it was likely purchased pre-cooked in that balled-up state, but I’ve had worse from chain stores. I appreciated the preference of red onion versus white or yellow on all the pies.

A veggie pizza turned out to include everything on the combination, sans meat. In hindsight, I wish I’d noticed the “extra veggie style” available for an additional $2. I don’t know what else it would have included, but I’m guessing it might have had a little more pizazz. Perhaps to compensate for the lack of protein, this pie had so many veggies they almost obscured the cheese. My olive-averse buddy had to wave off on this one.

Unfortunately, the Buffalo chicken pizza didn’t live up to what I’d expect from the name. Buffalo had me thinking “hot and spicy,” but what we received was more of a chicken combo with standard red sauce. Perhaps there was some miscommunication when I ordered. Regardless, the lack of spicy goodness is really the only issue we had with it. As a chicken combo, it was as good as the rest.

Chicken wings are available in barbecue, garlic, sweet chili or four levels of Buffalo-style hot sauce ($7.99 for 10 wings). The garlic wings were covered in minced garlic and a sort of vinaigrette, while the hot wing sauce was pretty standard. However, the wings were oven-baked rather than deep-fried, a technique which produces a rubbery-rather-than-crispy texture that is not my favorite. Baked wings are usually served at pizzerias lacking a deep fryer, yet the menu includes potato fries and stuffed jalapeños. I have to wonder if perhaps those are being sent through the oven as well. Regardless, these baked birds were about as good as you’re going to get without frying, and the flavors were quite good.

While perhaps not the fanciest joint in town, this family owned business serves up decent grub at a more than decent price. While we were there I watched the proprietor personally taking several orders out for delivery. With their close proximity to the University of Nevada, Reno campus and student housing, I’ll bet she’ll soon need to add another driver.