Pizza Plus2211 Oddie Blvd.
Reno, NV 89512
We usually avoid reviewing chain restaurants, but locally owned Pizza Plus, with a constellation of five outlets extending from Sierra Highlands Drive in Reno to Los Alamos Parkway in Sparks, is a tragedy of riches for Northern Nevada pizza lovers and worthy of this review and local diners’ attention.
My husband and I were initially skeptical when we visited the original Pizza Plus on Oddie Boulevard during a semi-busy weeknight. To be blunt, the environs—the shopping center between Sullivan and El Rancho—suggest a place catering to people with more practical things to attend to than finding competitive pizza: A laundromat, a Kmart, a thrift store, etc. The tiny overhang with “Pizza Plus” barely visible—the name itself is an unflattering appellation, sort of like an auto dealer called “Car Barn”—suggested one of those miniature counter-service-only operations where rushed staff weaving through stacks of delivery boxes crank out one-topping manager specials or pizza by the slice.
But we were glad not to have too hastily judged this book by its cover. Maybe it wasn’t quite as dramatic a transformation as Lucy entering Narnia via the wardrobe, but as you walk in you see a classic pizza parlor décor extended deep into the building: wooden picnic tables, long stainless steel counter with plenty of room for service, a buffet awning, and a drink fountain turned toward the dining hall. Multiple families were already ensconced at their tables enjoying beer, wings and pies as frantic parents tried to corral their erratic broods.
At the counter our servers were friendly and competent. We started with the serviceable potato skins ($5.99), made with so-so cheddar, while awaiting our pizza. They took their time, but that’s OK because I’d rather have the crust crisp and the ingredients cooked instead of the dough-centered abominations you might get elsewhere. We opted for a “mondo”-sized vegetarian special, with bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, red and green onions, tomatoes, artichokes, garlic, the kitchen sink ($24.99). The vegetables were fresh, the garlic sauce base well formulated, and the cheese high quality. We ate plenty and absconded with plenty more for the trip home.
While building your own from a list of 23 ingredients is still an option, the wealth of constituents in their standard pies makes Pizza Plus a really neat experiment. The Original Combo has the usual suspects of meats (salami, pepper, beef sausage) but also linguica (Portuguese pork sausage—ever had that on a pizza?) along with olives, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and anchovies on request, if you roll like that. Even their otherwise standard Hawaiian with only the requisite ham and pineapple toppings boasts “three cheeses,” although I confess to not knowing what three they are. And while I typically avoid buffets, based on the quality of the pizza our first time around, my husband has talked of trying the lunch buffet: all-you-can-eat salad and pizza for $6.99 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
There is a reason this business has extended its tentacles throughout the region, and I would say my only fear is that bigger might not lead to better in the future. I hope I’m wrong, but definitely try Pizza Plus before it goes totally corporate. I can say I ate there and had good pizza before I started receiving text messages on my cell phone advertising Pizza Plus’s large-two-topping-and-pitcher-of-soda special and so should any pizza lover in Northern Nevada.