Evel’s Meatballs – Served with Evel’s Tomato Sauce
Cheesy Rider Slice
Hog Heaven – Evel’s BBQ Sauce, Smoked Mozzarella, Fontina, Pulled Pork, Man Candy Bacon, Red Onions, Fresh Parsley
Goblin Sausage – Evel’s Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Pepperoni, Ham, Italian Sausage, Bacon, Fresh Parsley
Tomato & Motz – Fresh Mozzarella, Baby Heirlooms, Red Peppers, Basil, EVOO, Aged Balsamic
Buffalo Wings – Ranch and Blue Cheese
The Barry White Pie – Mozzarella, Pecorino, Fontina, Ricotta, Fresh Basil
Evel’s Giant Hot Pocket Rocket Calzone – Mozzarella, Pecorino, Ricotta, EVOO and a Side of Evel’s Tomato Sauce + added Sausage
Special Gluten-Free Pie – Square Deep Dish, Fresh Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Fresh Basil, 18-Month Parmigiano-Reggiano
Led Zeppole – Fried Dough, Powdered Sugar, Chili Flake Honey
While there are some who may not feel that the Culinary Arts can ever ascend to the status of “Fine Art,” those unfortunate folks probably the same sort who refer to Metals or Clay as “Craft” and think that no amount of talent or passion will ever allow Rock to rival Mozart, a dictionary definition of the word Art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination” is precisely what springs to mind when listening to Pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo discuss his journey from Brooklyn to Evel Pie on Fremont Street, the confines of which contain a different kind of ‘art’ creating a truly unique experience.
Opened in December and replacing several recent flops with the sort of Las Vegas born idea that seems “so crazy it might actually work,” Evel Pie was brought to DTLV by a collaboration between The Golden Tiki’s Branden Powers and the son of daredevil Evel Knievel with Vincent brought on board to create an era-specific Pie, a bit of research and a whole lot of practice beginning at age eight in his mother’s kitchen yielding the sort of “Slice” one might have seen in Mid-Town or Brooklyn in the early 1970’s, several of these electric oven triangles topped with novel ingredients including everything from ‘Man Candy’ Bacon to Rattlesnake Sausage while the rest of the concert-poster style menu is rounded out by Calzones, Buffalo Wings, Meatballs and Salads.
Well known as a man whose skill and determination can be trusted to launch a restaurant, his involvement at 800 Degrees, Flour & Barley as well as New York’s ‘The Meatball Shop’ spoken of fondly even though the relationship did not last long term, those getting a chance to sit down with Vincent to hear his story will be struck by the zeal with which he discusses his early infatuation with making Pizza as well as his use of cooking as a sort of ‘therapy,’ late nights in the back yard of his Brooklyn Apartment spent feeding neighbors straight from a handmade Pizza oven and his Gluten Free Crust that recently took Number Two at the International Pizza Championships essentially ‘a story about a girl.’
Bringing in the talents of Justin Ford and others to assist in the kitchen, a $5 Beer and Slice Special thus far making Evel Pie a hit amongst tourists while locals slowly discover that the answer to “where can I find a good New York Slice” is found on Fremont East, it was on the quiet Patio where Rotolo grows Herbs and Tomatoes bearing the names of investors as well as Pizza Legends including John Arena that dinner was enjoyed on a Saturday night as a party of four, music ranging from Biggie to Queens of the Stoneage playing in the shadow of some rather unique artwork as a local DJ set-up for his weeknight set, the inside no doubt a bit more rowdy though the promise of a monthly ‘local takeover’ of outdoor taps as well as misters and a lot of shade promise for some late summer nights outdoors.
Opting to dine family style at the kitchen’s discretion, a few Beers plus a punchy local Root Beer in hand, the first look at Evel Pie’s product since their Grand Opening shows that the kitchen and their ovens have already improved substantially with a bit of seasoning, the multipurpose Dough used to make everything from Garlic Knots to Zeppole baking up with a good char and just the right amount of stretch plus a Cornicione that bubbles just enough to let patrons know that nothing here is rushed, the crispiness and air pockets imparted by giving the yeast enough time to ferment.
Offering both whole Pies and those by the slice, the former obviously a fresher choice though those arriving during peak hours are rather certain to receive a hot slice straight from the rack, it was with five different combinations of toppings that opinions were formulated of a Pizza that manages great consistency by way of good Ingredients and a 50/50 Mozzarella that is not applied overzealously, the “Cheesy Rider” and Pepperoni Slice with Cup and Char-style rounds always available for purists while “Hog Heaven” with housemade Barbeque Sauce plus Brown Sugar Bacon, Pulled Pork and Red Onions is more of an acquired taste, the “Goblin Sausage” taking the idea of ‘Meat Lovers’ pretty seriously with Pepperoni, Ham, Italian Sausage and Bacon while the “Barry White” Pie features puddles of Ricotta and Fresh Basil atop a light Garlic Sauce.
Smartly offering his own style of Meatballs as an appetizer, the three for $8 Orbs tender and supple in a pool of crushed Tomatoes, additional items from “Evel’s Sides, Salads, and Other Stuff” include a Caprese with Fresh Mozz and good Balsamic that would not be out of place at most of the Strip’s fine dining spaces save for its service in a take-home tin, the Pizza-joint staple Buffalo Wings a bit less surprising, though still quite good for those who are into such things.
Lingering over good music, great conversation and what was already plenty of food, it was with the dining room really revving up for business that Justin brought forth “Evel’s Giant Hot Pocket Rocket Calzone,” the three Cheese blend inside what is literally a whole Crust folded over soon to generate a ‘Cheesepull’ that exceeded four feet of creamy texture and a whole lot of flavor while Vincent’s now-famous Gluten-Free Pie arrived shortly thereafter, the “Detroit-style” Deep Dish subjected to a double ferment that has thus far limited the restaurant’s capacity to keep up with demand for something that is not just ‘Celiac-friendly’ because it is trendy, but truly a passion project with a crispy edge and buttery softness that seems almost impossible to achieve without the elasticity typically associated with Wheat Protein.
Rounding out the night with ‘Led Zeppole,’ the obvious reference to a band who named themselves such because they figured the idea would quickly crash, Evel Pie’s Dough defies the idea of a heavy Doughnut by generating small Puffs that emerge from the fryer light and virtually oilless, the powdered sugar dabbed-on as opposed to being dumped over allowing the yeastiness to come through while a sidecar of Chili Flake Honey is an idea so simple and satisfying that one wonders why they’ve never seen it before.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Taking the concept for what it is, the marriage of a high-flying Daredevil’s relics to a Pizza Joint circa 1972, Evel Pie has achieved a tremendous amount of success in under four months by pairing a passionate Pizza Man to an owner willing to take some chances, the answer to every New Yorker’s prayers answered in a rather unlikely place with the only questions remaining just how much better the ‘slice’ can get, and what these guys will come up with next?
RECOMMENDED: Evel’s Giant Hot Pocket Rocket Calzone, The Barry White Pie, Gluten-Free Pie, Pepperoni Slice, Tomato & Motz, Led Zeppole
AVOID: Hog Heaven, for the second time, seemed a touch overcooked – likely a result of the lack of Tomato Sauce to preserve moisture.
TIP: In addition to the $5 Beer and Slice Deal, Evel Pie sounds the siren late each night for the $2 “Blue Light Special” where everything has to go by way of the grab n’ go “Pie Hole.”
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.