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Apr 19, 2014 06:27 PM

My review for 800 Degrees at Monte Carlo

I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of 800 Degrees at the Monte Carlo since it was announced they were coming to Vegas and was finally able to try their pizza on opening night (April 4th) as well as again last night.

800 Degrees is a make-it-your-way Neapolitan pizza place first opened in Westwood near UCLA. They are the original "build your own" pizza place and started the proliferation of many copycats across Southern California and then the nation (with Vegas-based Novecento and Custom Built as well as chains like Orange County's Pieology). Envisioned by Anthony Carron as a place to get a great pizza with great ingredients baked up in 60 seconds at a price cheaper than a Neapolitan pizza restaurant, 800 Degrees made its mark across Southern California and has debuted in Vegas.

The space is wonderful. It has tall ceilings and a very rustic interior, with booth seating as well as dark wooden picnic tables. The space is at least double the size of the original Westwood location. In the corner are two of those custom flavor Coke machines, taps for still and sparkling water, and a gelato case.

As for the pizza, the dough is made from scratch daily and you get to watch them form the dough by hand. All pizzas are the same size, but it is up to you to choose the base of your pizza (Margherita, white, marinara, or pesto) . From there, you walk down the toppings line with your pizza as you let your creativity soar. You have your choice of toppings from shrimp to meatballs to hot pepper puree to truffled cheese to fresh-sliced prosciutto. Then your pizza is transferred to the 800 degree oven and comes out hot and fresh after about a minute. The pizza is finished with some finishing salt (not sure if just kosher salt or if it's Maldon sea salt), sliced, and ready for pick-up at the counter.

My favorite combination is the Verde pizza base with prosciutto, caramelized onions, and chili puree. If you don't want to create your own, there are some pre-designed choices you can order off the menu. My favorite of the pre-designed pies is the Piccante, with soppressata, garlic, and chili puree.

As far as pricing goes, you pay for the base you choose ($6-$8) and toppings are $1.50 each. Every pizza gets a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano, a ball of fresh-made mozzerella torn up and placed on the pizza by hand, and olive oil.

And how do they taste? Excellent! The crust is thin and chewy, with a crisp bottom from the hot oven. The cornicione is puffy, slightly burnt in parts, and has a wonderful chew. The base sauces taste great, the toppings are fresh, and the baking of the pizza is well-done. The sprinkle of finishing salt right before cutting was a nice touch. There's also something about their dough that makes the entire pizza seem light. You definitely don't feel weighed down after you finish an 800 Degrees pizza. Unless, of course, you go crazy on toppings.

They also have great salads and a few burrata offerings available. I would suggest the burrata platter with melon and prosciutto. As for drinks, they have the fountain drinks, but they also have beer and even wine on tap.

Negatives? Not many. I asked for a farm egg on one of my pizzas and it was very undercooked (egg white still liquid) after baking. They need to find a way to keep those raw eggs at a higher temp so they'll cook faster. I didn't like that fountain drinks cost $3.50, which seems sort of high. And I also didn't like that pricing, while still very reasonable, was higher than the Southern California locations.

Best part about the Vegas location? Not having to deal with the 20-30 minute line at the ones in SoCal. Just like Boiling Crab Vegas is free of the 2-3 hour waits of the SoCal locations.

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  1. Nicely done - this place was on the radar before, now it is higher on that radar. :-)

    8 Replies
    1. re: uhockey

      Hope it's good! If not, it's your own fault ;)

      Just kidding. Since it's Neapolitan pizza, I would stick with no more than 2-3 toppings and stay away from the tomato-based toppings (like fresh tomatoes or the fresh marinara) as the pizza can end up a bit soupy. I guess Neapolitan pizza is always a bit soupy, but sticking with the white or pesto bases prevent that.

      My favorite topping is the chili puree. It has such immense flavor and acidity that it really pushes the pizza to another level.

      Here's their menu, although the pricing is SoCal pricing.
      Add $1-$1.5 per pizza base and add $0.50 per topping. And add $3-$5 per burrata platter

      1. re: ah6tyfour

        Oh, I'm aware of all the points above - but I actually enjoy that 'soupy center' neapolitan and having been to most of the "best of" spots in the US my the only thing 800 degrees needs to do in order to make me happy is rival Settebello.

        I'll likely go with a Margherita and the squash pie when I go - and I never have/never will overload a pie. ;-)

        1. re: uhockey

          Hopefully it pleases. I had the most terrible meal at Settebello about a year ago and never went back. Cold soupy pizzas, dessert pizza coming out 2 minutes after the savory ones, and no attempt to bring out a new dessert pizza or take it off the tab. Just a "wow, the kitchen must be moving fast today!" And so we ate cold congealed nutella pizza 30-40 minutes from when it came out of the oven.

          I feel bad for Obama. I heard his staffers bought Settebello to-go and brought it to him. Doesn't matter where the Neapolitan pizza comes from. It's not going to survive an hour out of the oven.

          1. re: ah6tyfour

            I'm shocked about your bad meal. In my experience, Settebello is remarkably consistent (both locations) with usually good service, if occasionally distracted. I don't put the 800 degrees in Westwood anywhere near the level of Settebello, although I find the logistics of the operation fascinating.

            1. re: Dave Feldman

              The Westwood location, at least back when it was the only location, was sometimes very inconsistent. I've had a few underdone pizzas since they're so busy.

              And Settebello was so bad it was almost funny. I had heard such great things and my parents were in town for one meal, so I chose Settebello. The dough was essentially uncooked in the middle. I lifted the sides to look underneath and there was no brownness at all to the crust. The cheese was congealed and the toppings very sparse. And then there was that dessert pizza. You would think they would have just tossed it and set up a new ticket to be fired 30 minutes later. Or deliver the dessert pizza, joke about how it's so early, and promise a new one 30 minutes later. My parents are not ones to complain and I'm almost the same way, so we didn't say anything. I ended up taking them to GVR for a graveyard steak special a few hours later, which they loved.

            2. re: ah6tyfour

              I believe it was Dom Demarco's that received the presidential order.

              1. re: westie

                Dom Demarco's and Settebello both - It makes one appreciative of the changes through the valley - 10 years ago there was not a Settebello, Due Forni, Dom Demarco's, Grimaldi's, Novecento, etc.

                1. re: QAW

                  Yep, he's had both. Although I don't think Obama actually sampled the Settebello pizza. It was picked up while he waited in the car and he dropped it off at the office.

                  The Dom Demarco's pizza probably held up much better than the Settebello. Seems a bad idea to try to eat Neapolitan pizza an hour after coming out of the oven.