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The Best Pizza in Reno . . . is in Sparks

Five intrepid Chowhounders spent Saturday evening going to five pizza places in the Truckee Meadows to decide who has the best pizza. The MO was basically the same. We'd go into a pizza place, ask for a 12- or 14-inch pizza with half cheese and half with toppings. And we'd ask them to double cut it to make sure there were at least five slices on both sides of the pizza.
We then ranked the pizzas for overall quality and then for individual categories: Crust, Cheese, Sauce, Meat toppings, Non-meat toppings and Value. I awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth. Not everyone voted in every category, so I totaled the scores and averaged them out.
When the dust settled, there was a clear No. 1 choice: Carella's pizzeria and deli on Vista Boulevard near Baring Boulevard. Everyone who gave a first place vote overall gave it to Carella's. It also scored highest with best meat topping, best crust and best value. Nu Yalk Pizza on Kietzke Lane at Moana scored first with best sauce. Ciao Reno scored tops with best cheese and best non-meat topping.
Nu Yalk pizza edged out Ciao Reno 6.6 to 6.5 for second place for overall pizza. Zpizza in the Caughlin Ranch shopping center was fourth and Blind Onion on Kings Row at McCarran Boulevard was fifth.
Andy noted it was really tough to compare Ciao Reno with the other places since it was more gourmet pizza and the others were more conventional pizza. Maybe we need a round two where we compare Ciao Reno with Blue Moon on Lakeside Drive and Eclipse Pizza at Mayberry Landing.
I think the thing that made Carella's stand out was the crust. My fellow Chowhounders tried to analyze what made Carella's the best and concluded maybe it was because they use olive oil in the crust. It has a nice texture and flavor. It's maybe not as thin as some liked it, but the taste makes up for a lot.
Niu Yalk pizza stood out for its sauce with the group. I don't know how to describe it, except that it's nice and tangy. The gourmet pizza of Ciao Reno was recognized for the best cheese.
Here's the results:
Carella's Overall 10
Carella's Meat 9
Carella's Crust 8.6
Ciao Reno Cheese 8.2
Nu Yalk Sauce 8.2
Carella's Value 8.2
Ciao Reno Non-meat 7.6
Nu Yalk Overall 6.6
Ciao Reno Overall 6.5
Nu Yalk Non-meat 6.2
Carella's Sauce 6.2
Nu Yalk Value 6.2
Nu Yalk Cheese 5.8
Nu Yalk Meat 5.4
Carella's Cheese 5.4
Nu Yalk Crust 5.4
Ciao Reno Crust 5.4
Zpizza Sauce 5.4
Zpizza Non-meat 5.2
Blind Onion Meat 5
Ciao Reno Value 4.4
Zpizza Value 4.2
Blind Onion Sauce 4
Zpizza Meat 4
Zpizza Overall 3.8
Zpizza Cheese 3.8
Carella's Non-meat 3.8
Zpizza Crust 3.4
Blind Onion Value 3.2
Blind Onion Non-meat 3.2
Blind Onion Crust 3.2
Blind Onion Cheese 2.8
Blind Onion Overall 1.8
Ciao Reno Sauce 1
Ciao Reno Meat 0

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  1. Wow...good job tabulating, Steve!!

    I also think Ciao may have lost a few points by being last on the list. Several of us hit the wall when we saw those last pizzas set on the table.

    Jerry and I both agreed that Carella's was the best. Today he mentioned that he would like to have it again, this time with some more veggie toppings...but that it was a long drive from our house for Pizza, especially take-out (btw, Carella's really is almost a take-out place, with just a few tables and other intriguing Italian deli stuff for sale as well...). I told him that since its close to my office I could always be asked to pick one up before coming home....

    BTW, several of us agreed that in addition to the sauce at New Yalk, the mushrooms were exceptionally tasty. I hope they are always so....

    Thanks for organizing Steve. We had a blast; I'm just sorry that there weren't more chowhounders there. I really enjoyed the food AND the company, and I'm not that big of a pizza fan. So maybe next time we could try the great Reno taco crawl??? Now that's something I could get into....

    1. Yeah, it's kind of tough to throw Cia Reno into the mix. And we had no meat from them, so we couldn't grade the meat topping. They clearly don't serve the traditional kind of pizza sauce.
      Ciao Reno is where you'd take a babe to try to impress her. Carella's and Nu Yalk pizza is where you'd eat after you married her.
      I love to get a slice of Nu Yalk pizza with mushrooms. Quite tasty.
      I'm up for a taco crawl.

      1. A big round of applause for Steve for professionally organizing the pizzathon. Judging sheets were given to the participants listing all the parameters. The Chowhounds showed great stamina-unlike a wine tasting, there was no eating and spitting. I regret that the Reno Chowhound board couldn't produce a few more people. Hopefully, the success of this event will draw more interest.

        Although Carella's was the #1 consensus, it was by no means a slam dunk for any of us. Carella's had a wonderful crust, however I felt that Ciao was extremely close. I favored the cheese, sauce, and topping combination at Nu Yalk. It was closest to what I grew up with in Chicago. A Carella's crust and Nu Yalk topping would be the best of both worlds. As Steve mentioned, I found it difficult to compare Ciao pizza. They are for the most part a white, sauceless pizza with gourmet ingredients, like 4 different wild mushrooms or heirloom tomatoes. The toppings and cheese are more luxurious, but you pay the price. If you want to sit back and watch football with a beer, pick up Carella's. If you are in the mood for a nice dinner, with terrific wine, in a great atmosphere, head to Ciao. Pizza'd out in Reno, Andy

        1. Oh! Thanks so much for posting this. Carellas, huh? Never heard of it, but with a husband who is a pizza fanatic, we'll definitely have to make the trip.

          1. By the way, when I went into work today, I mentioned to my coworkers about Carella's. I thought I was giving them a hot new tip (several live nearby). They all said, "oh yeah we love that place!" And for Andy: they also told me that if you request an extra thin crust you get more of the cracker-style, but with that great taste....

            Also, the Ciao pizza leftovers were delicious the next day. I can't believe that I had them for breakfast on Sunday!

            3 Replies
            1. re: janetofreno

              I would love them to open a branch up at the lake.

              1. re: RevrendAndy

                Well you missed the best you will ever have. Big Apple in Sparks, but no matter you will get to the them soon.

                1. re: are you kidding

                  I've been to Big Apple Pizza three or four times. It's nice pizza, and I don't mind eating it, but I don't think it's in the same league as the others. Maybe my judgment is influenced because they sell a glass of Charles Shaw wine (Two Buck Chuck) for something like $4.

            2. Well our views are different and I believe you could be wrong here, but thats what makes the world go round, maybe you could have you friends go there and let them be the judge. You could be wrong or right.

              1. I know I'm coming in late, but I'm originally from Joisey and am having serious cravings for East kind pizza - you know, the kind you have to fold over, crust that's not too thin, not too thick, and accumulates that delighful orangey yellow grease that slides down your chin.... does anyone know of a place in or around Reno that serves that kind?

                the closest was a place in Oddie Boulevard that has since closed down (sob sob). And yes, I would drive all the way from Tahoe just to get it. Tried Nu Yalk Pizza and it wasn't the same - maybe it was just reheated. The sauce didn't appeal to me.

                Anyway, I'd love to join the next Chowhound get-together, depending on future snow conditions, of course!

                1. Sorry, I meant EAST COAST pizza

                  1. Have you tried Peluso's in Kings Beach? It's only carry out and doesn't fold over but it's got a nice thin crust and good ingredients. Probably not as greasy as you want it. The owner is from Joisey. I highly recommend it.

                    1. Thanks, Andy. Several people have recommended them, so I guess I'll have to try them now!

                      Hey, at least Truckee has the cheesesteak place. The one in Reno only lasted a month before it died a weak, pathetic death.

                      1. I know this is an old thread, but I was searching for pizza places I might have missed in Reno and you actually left off one of the best in town. Black Rock Pizza Co. over in Sparks (near pyramid and McCarren) The menu is HUGE and the ingredients are very fresh.

                        I'll definitely have to check out Carellas...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Steve108

                          I know of a couple of people who like Black Rock Pizza a lot. I've tried it twice and it was okay, but didn't leave a strong impression. One thing I didn't like was that the ingredients did not seem fresh. I'll check it out again.

                        2. My wife and I tried a pie from Carella's on Friday night on the basis of its win, and we were sorely disappointed. We are puzzled as to how this crust could have been rated so highly. For one thing, it was too thick (in fairness, the review does note it was "not as thin as some liked"). If the flavor had been as amazing as described, perhaps the thickness would have been okay. However, we both found the crust to be completely bland and flavorless.

                          We've had Nu Yalk several times and far prefer that (they also have toppings like pancetta that you can't find most other places), their par-baked pies are great for takeout. Our one trip to Big Apple also left us far more impressed than the pizza at Carrella's.

                          1. Bad news for lovers of Carella's pizza. I stopped by today and on June 25 the landlord posted an eviction notice. Don't know if they'll reopen some place else.
                            I guess the title for best pizza in the Reno area us up for grabs.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: SteveTimko

                              Carrella's has reopened with the original owner, who sold it to someone else.