Tight squeeze

Pie-Face Pizza

Co-owner and cook Trevor Leppek pulls a batch of garlic knots from the oven at Pie-Face Pizza.

Co-owner and cook Trevor Leppek pulls a batch of garlic knots from the oven at Pie-Face Pizza.

Photo By Audrey Love

Pie-Face Pizza is open Sun., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Mon. and Tues., 11 a.m. to midnight; Wed., 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m. to “late”; Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to “very late.”

Pie-Face Pizza

239 W. Second St.
Reno, NV 89503

(775) 622-9222

My friends Dustin and Teddy D. live at the condos on West Second Street, so we’ve been watching Pie-Face from their balcony for some time. One Friday night, we decided it was time to try it. We met our friend Rhea there. Even from outside, I could see the place was packed, which I took as a good sign.

Upon entering, we walked into a lounge area with leather couches and a huge TV. There were no open tables, so we sat down on the couches, unsure what to do. Directly behind us was an empty DJ booth that appeared to be a waste of space, as two tables could have been placed there. Past the crowd, I saw a sign that said, “Start here,” so being the genius that I am, I decided, well, to start there.

Here’s where it got tricky. To the left, a booth runs against the wall, with tables and chairs on the other side, and a bar runs on the right side. A large party had combined a couple of tables by the bar, making it nearly impossible to squeeze through the two rows of tables to make it to the front of the restaurant, the area for ordering and picking up food. I considered just sending Rhea, who has the figure of an anorexic 12-year-old, but realized if we sent her, we would all end up just splitting a side salad.

After squeezing ourselves to the front, we opted for the T. Pane (14-inch for $18), which comes with caramelized fennel, Granny Smith apples, sweet Italian sausage, sharp provolone and shaved parmesan. We also had a slice of pepperoni ($3.25), a slice of sausage and artichoke ($3.50), a mini calzone with chicken, spinach and mushrooms ($7) and a pitcher of Icky ($16).

The mini calzone was humongous and looked beautiful, with a golden crust and a side of sauce that tasted so fresh Dustin started eating it by the spoonful. Sadly, the calzone itself was flavorless, and there appeared to be no spices in it. The chicken tasted boiled, and the mushrooms tasted like nothing.

The T. Pane was more successful. The caramelized fennel was a nice complement to the sausage, which was far spicier than the “sweet” label would imply. With the spiciness of the sausage, the Granny Smith apples would have been a great balance, but they were sliced so thinly I couldn’t taste them. The crust was thin, which I like, but somewhat flimsy. As for size, they don’t mess around. The slices were large and could easily pass as two. The pepperonis were humongous but had a strange tin taste to them. The slice of artichoke and sausage was overwhelmed by the spiciness of the sausage. Despite the abundance of artichokes on the slice, spicy was the only flavor.

I have to talk about El Cortez, because Pie-Face is wedged between the hotel and bar. The décor includes weird gold tiles on the ceiling near the entrance and then on the upper part of the walls in the actual restaurant. It’s a good look. To use the restroom, I had to go into the actual hotel. I found the single stall bathroom to be clean—however, there was something unsettling about walking down the long hallway, and I had flashbacks to The Shining.

Will I eat at Pie-Face again? If I’m in downtown Reno, and it’s 3 in the morning, and I’m really drunk, I guess I would.