Like a Thai virgin

A tomato rises like the sun behind the exotic and delicious Thai pizza.

A tomato rises like the sun behind the exotic and delicious Thai pizza.

Photo By David Robert

A giant tomato rising like the sun over the mountains. That’s the first thing you see when you walk into Black Rock Pizza Company. It’s awesome. Gets you all stoked. The place is spacious—huge, lofty ceilings, tasteful decorating, nicely spaced tables—and lording over all of it is this great painting. It’s an excellent bit of mom-and-pop quirkiness, a great execution of an idea that was perhaps not clearly conceived. Or maybe it was and I’m just too daft to properly decipher its abstruse symbolism. Either way—awesome.

I was pleased to note that, though the menu explains that the Black Rock of the restaurant’s title is indeed a reference to the famous desert, there wasn’t a Burning Man logo to be seen. I support Burning Man, but it’s nice to see some Black Rock enthusiasm that isn’t thinly disguised enthusiasm for the annual festival.

The servers are friendly, courteous, eager to make suggestions, and their enthusiasm about the food seems genuine. We had the wings ($5.95) as appetizers, and when we couldn’t decide whether we wanted them hot or BBQ, our waitress suggested doing them half and half. She then gave us a guided tour through the menu. In addition to “starters and snacks,” they have soups, sandwiches, pastas and desserts—we had the panna cotta ($3.95), which the menu aptly describes as an “Italian crème br&251;lée.”

But most importantly, they have a huge diversity of pizza options: They have five basic pizza sauces, including pesto, red and white. And a head-dizzying array of exotic topping combinations—they can do more with pizza than that Bubba guy in Forrest Gump can do with shrimp.

Yes, that’s sort of a sloppy analogy, but it’s also going to serve as a crude segue into a description of the first pizza we ordered: the Black Rock shrimp pizza (8-inch, $7.95). It’s loaded with shrimp and artichoke hearts, parsley and Asiago cheese. How the Black Rock Desert and everyone’s favorite crustacean are related, I’m not sure, but boy, the salty-savory combination makes for a good pizza.

But the real revelation was the Thai Yi Yo (8-inch, $7.25)—a pizza with a name that’s some kind of horrible, inexplicable pun and a taste that I will fondly recollect in my autumn years: Thai pizza. Traditionalists might scoff at such a radical flavor hybrid, but the idea of using Thai peanut sauce on pizza, with grilled chicken, green onions and red peppers, is truly inspired. And here’s the great thing about that: The day before I ate at Black Rock, I had been dining with an entirely different group of friends over Thai food and had been reminiscing about how mind-blowing it had been for me when I first had it, and how I’d love to be able to try it again for the first time. Then here, at a pizza place, I discovered those same tastes recast so as to be surprisingly … devirginizing.

The point is that Black Rock had a pizza that was just right for me, a perfect fit, and I bet that, especially considering their choose-your-own-topping option, they have a pizza for nearly everyone. Except for people who don’t like pizza—for those freaks, they have sandwiches.