The pizzeria that doesn’t exist
Donatello’s Pizzeria575 Keystone Ave.
Reno, NV 89503
I was trolling the Internet, looking for untried pizza joints, and kept stumbling across listings for “Donatello’s Pizzeria.” I thought it was probably one of those flash-in-the-pizza-pan, here today, gone tomorrow restaurants whose brief life I must’ve blinked and missed, but I was intrigued by the possible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference in the name, so I called the number:
“Good afternoon. Pierino’s.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I was looking for Donatello’s Pizzeria.”
“This is it. It’s the same restaurant.”
“Well, it’s the same owners and the same location.”
“So pretty much the same restaurant.”
Pierino’s is an Italian restaurant. Donatello’s is the pizzeria that’s supposedly next door, but the door directs you to enter through Pierino’s, whose hostess leads you to your seat in their dining area, even if you insist that you want pizza. So Donatello’s doesn’t seem to exist. It’s a quasi-fictional restaurant. Perhaps the owners of Pierino’s attempted to spin off a pizzeria but eventually decided to reincorporate it. Perhaps they’re just remodeling the pizzeria. Perhaps it’s just a ruse to get into the phonebook twice. I don’t know the back story, and I don’t care. But I do know that if you try to eat at Donatello’s Pizzeria, you’ll end up eating at Pierino’s Ristorante Italiano.
Anyway, whatever the name of the place, they do sell pizzas. I had a small Meat Eater ($10.70), with pepperoni, salami, Canadian bacon and sausage. A nice pie, with a flavorful blend of cheeses and a crispy thin crust. I used to prefer thicker crusts, but the more I eat pizza, the more I realize that thick crust is for suckers. You might as well just eat bread.
My girlfriend, Sara, had a small pizza with basil and garlic ($9.70), a more simplistic flavor combination that might’ve made for an even better pizza than the Meat Eater. My friend Tony had the stromboli ($9), a baked sandwich stuffed with meats (pepperoni, salami) and mozzarella. It’s a slight variation on the calzone theme, and though by no means a knockout, Tony claimed that the stromboli sum was better than the parts, “kind of like Voltron.”
My friend Dan had the penne pasta in an arrabiata sauce ($12.25). The sauce was spicy and tasty, but the pasta was just slightly this side of wet noodle, about a minute past al dente.
This place is somewhere between fine dining and family fun, so it ends up being real middle-brow. The prices are a little high-end, but the atmosphere is relaxed, and the food isn’t very challenging—good but not exceptional. We were seated next to a pleasantly tacky airbrush painting of the famous Tower of Pisa, and that about sums it up: an enjoyable work of art, but not exactly classy.
Cut the high-end off the prices, drop some of the unbecoming false pretenses and, rather than a mediocre Italian restaurant, this could be a great mom-and-pop pizzeria.
Basically I want to eat at Donatello’s Pizzeria, not Pierino’s Ristorante Italiano. For the time being, I’ll have to settle for the fact that, for a restaurant that doesn’t really exist, Donatello’s has pretty good pizza.