Located adjacent to the University of Nevada, Reno, recently opened Rick’s Pizza keeps things simple and to the point. They have pizza, they have beer, and they have a handful of appetizers. There are sandwiches and salads on the menu, but on this January evening my group focused on items hot from the oven.
We began with an order of garlic knots ($6 for six), twists of baked pizza dough tossed in garlic sauce—served with pizza sauce on the side—and potato skins ($7.50 for six) topped with cheese and bacon. The spud skins were just a bit crunchy and filled with smooth, seasoned potato. The knots were both soft and crispy, slathered in a sauce that could ward off vampires. The pizza sauce seemed unnecessary, but earned its keep with chunky texture and plenty of oregano and basil and a nice touch of black pepper.
Wings can be ordered plain or with barbecue or spicy sauce ($8.50 for 10); we ordered barbecue and spicy. The wings were big but oven-baked—not my favorite way to cook a chicken wing. However, I will say that, for roasted wings, they were about as good as you’re going to get. They weren’t rubbery and were just crispy enough to hold their own against the sauce. Speaking of, the barbecue was a little on the jammy side—though not too sweet—while the spicy sauce was about what I’d call mild to medium if compared to classic Buffalo wings. We all enjoyed a taste of both.
Though the small bites were good enough to satisfy on their own, pizza is the name of the game at Rick’s. The crust was crispy, and the edges were a bit bready with plenty of chew and flavor. We ordered a few 10-inch pies for variety, and it was really a toss-up which was the best.
Our first two pies were completely different, and completely delicious. The Little Dede ($12) was covered in red onion, bell pepper, black olive, zucchini, mushroom, tomato, parmesan, mozzarella and that tasty red sauce—a vegetarian pizza good enough to make everyone happy. This was followed by a Triple R ($12) featuring a robust pesto sauce, garlic chicken breast, artichoke heart and black olive. The pesto had a bit of kick to it, and the marinated artichoke added a nice tang that complemented the savory notes.
Rick’s Special ($13) was underlaid by a smokey barbecue sauce, topped with garlic chicken, red onion, bell pepper, parmesan and mozzarella. Barbecue pizza is not usually a notion I find appealing, but the sauce really worked with the flavorful chicken and other elements. A Big Mackie ($13) featured a really good white garlic sauce, honey smoked ham, red onion, pineapple and slow-cooked pork. The sauce and the pork really pulled this sucker together. I’m generally in agreement with people who think pineapple and pizza don’t mix, but damn it, this combination did. It was perhaps the first time I’ve wanted a second slice of pineapple pie—and a third.
The service was remarkably fast for a young establishment, with appetizers to the table in perhaps 10 minutes, pizza less than 10 minutes later, and wings in another five. There’s a lot of similar fare nearby, but I think these folks might have an edge in both quality and courtesy.