2012 International Pizza Expo Las Vegas
March 13 – 15 was the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas convention center, people this is like DISNEY WORLD for pizza enthusiasts. So much to show and tell that there is no way I could put it into a blog post but I’ll try and summarize.
Full on pictures of just about everything I did can be found here.
8:57am arrive at McCarran International – main goal AVOID Cinnabon
9:42am walk into Hard Rock Hotel and try to check into a room, not gonna happen at that time, nothing is ready for me. Head to the Lucky 24/7 Cafe for steel cut oatmeal and coffee. This is important because this would be the only non pizza item I would eat until I get back to Chicago
10:38am checked into the room and on my way to the convention center for my 1st experience at the International Pizza Expo
Approximately 6 football fields full of pizza and pizza related products. Everything from equipment including the latest advancements in ovens (especially the new electric ovens which if you are taking the tour… please ask me about these, lets talk about steam) to different tomato suppliers, cheese suppliers, flour, etc. Full on competitions and of course so many booths have people making pizza for attendees to try.
1:34pm time to sit in for a class on Neapolitan pizza making with none other than Franco Pepe. Now he doesn’t speak english, but fortunately a translator was on hand and this was mostly about watching and studying.
After the seminar it was more floor walking and just taking it all in. This was day 1 and needed to get ready for a jam packed day tomorrow, oh and of course an evening of pizza eating tonight as well. Pizza crawl with Milwaukee Food Tour’s owners coming up, they operate a pizza tour on Saturdays so if you are in Milwaukee or nearby, do yourself a favor and check it out.
6:48pm Pizza Crawl with Theresa & Wade of Milwaukee Food Tour
We started out at Metro Pizza owned by John Arena Jr and his cousin Sam Facchini. This is honestly my favorite pizza joint in Las Vegas. We are off the strip, the pizza is delicious, and this place is like a shrine to quality pizza across the country. They have a map of the United States on the wall that pays respects to quality pizzerias across the country (Uno’s & Home Run Inn were a couple that represented Chicago). If you visit these pizzerias and take a picture of yourself in front of them, Metro will give you a $25 gift certificate. John says “We’re the only place that pays you to go try other pizzerias!”
Above we have the restaurant (love the no need for an area code), a NY Style cheese pizza, bottom a New Haven style clams pizza, and then one of my favorites… the Sicilian.
Next we headed to Otto which is on the 2nd floor of the Venetian. Otto is owned by Mario Batali (sr.) and features some of the best pepperoni in the country. I felt that the crust lacked salt but the reason for that may have been because the pepperoni did not. The balance of a less salty dough and a very salty pepperoni just happened to work out nice. Featured below are shots of Chicago Pizza Tours & Milwaukee Food Tours dining at both Metro and then Otto
Conclude day one, side note – I am up around $200 from having to play craps while waiting to head out to Metro.
No time for oatmeal this morning, and quite honestly no room because I have a pretty good idea for what I am in store for today.
8:49am Arrive at my seminar with Tony Gemignani to see how he prepares NY Style, Roman Thick, and Roman Thin crust pizza. It is a good thing I am there 11 minutes early because apparently there was so much to cover he actually started about 20 minutes early meaning I missed some stuff
There were some really great things discussed that I was able to take away from this seminar, first we got into the types of tomatoes that Tony likes to use and I was relieved to hear that he uses mostly tomato brands from Stanislaus. I am relieved because I know full well that many of the pizzerias we visit on the tour use them. Did I mention that Tony Gemignani is a 11 time world pizza champion? Trust me he has some major pizza credentials. Anyways moving on he starts talking about the importance of using Grande cheese in all his restaurants, again BAM a huge sigh of relief as most every pizzeria we visit uses Grande. They are by far the most expensive and with good reason. We even covered the whole 99% cheese / 1% cellulose and how drastically different that can be from 100% cheese. Anyway, this is what a pizza seminar looks like
Now it may not be the prettiest slice of pizza you’ve ever seen, but that Round Sicilian slice pictured above was one of my top 5 all time tasting slices. It stuck with me after several pizzas later and I am now on a mission to find an amazing Round Sicilian Slice in Chicago.
The rest of the day was spent walking the floor with John Arena the owner of Pizza Metro and Scott Wiener the owner of Scott’s Pizza Tours. If you are unfamiliar with Scott’s Pizza Tours, I highly, highly, highly recommend that if you are in NY and you are even thinking about eating some pizza… you book a ticket with his tour at the start of your trip! He has forgotten more about pizza than most anyone will ever know! Here are some show shots:
Below you will find a shot of Milwaukee Food Tours, Scott’s Pizza Tours, and Chicago Pizza Tours owners at one of the tomato booths, Milwaukee Food Tours also operates a pizza tour which I believe takes place on Saturdays. Should you find yourself in Milwaukee, GO FOR IT! As well as a meeting of the Pizza Minds which included Pizza Brain (1st Pizza Museum) and Greg DiNapoli (bottom right), Pizza Quest, John Arena, and many others.
Late night we decided to head to Dom Demarco’s an offspring of DiFara, maybe a second cousin or something of that type. Pizza Brain, stuffed Scott & I into the back of a convertible and made the 30 mile trip while John Arena took Milwaukee Food Tours in a car that was probably much more comfortable but they probably didn’t listen to the theme song of Never Ending Story!
Of course it was closing but that certainly wasn’t an issue, it was almost as if the owner was expecting us…
Luckily Scott survived the pic on the right, either the owner Al was telling us emphatically about the mixture of cheeses that they use or he was explaining how the location was superb being next door to the 2nd busiest Petsmart in the country.
Below you will see their filtration system for the water that they use as well as their steel pans getting the Sicilian style pizzas ready for the next day’s orders.
And now, the finished product. It was pretty darn good
Think I am going to end this post around here. There was a whole other 1/2 day back at the show for me before I flew back to Chicago (nice shout out to the owner of Rosati’s that I spotted on my flight) and by the time I landed I had just enough time to head home, hit the sack and went right into a Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon tour giving schedule while Chicago was over excitedly celebrating St Patrick’s Day!
- If you are on the tour any time soon, ask me about this and I can tell you incredible stories
Rated 4.8 out of 5 Stars !!!
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