Even now, on a Monday afternoon far, far, away from Rome, I still remember.
It’s February 2009 and my husband and I are not far from the Piazza Barberini. At least, I think we are not far from the Piazza Barberini where our hotel is.
Like all wonderful vacations (what I consider a wonderful vacation) we are lost. Only this time we are lost and hungry – so hungry that I don’t even want to look in my tour book to see Rick Steve’s recommendations.
The pizza wasn’t so much as memorable as the adventure to find it– a happy discovery at just the right time, which, by the way, is so indicative of all my adventures abroad.
Not long ago, I experienced another adventure that happily led me to pizza. Only this time we were not in Europe. We were in Las Vegas. I know what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas but are you ready? I’m about to tell you a secret…
Stereotypical of all really good food finds, this pizza joint is a “secret” hole in the wall (that is rapidly becoming not so secret). I don’t think there’s even a name for it. There are no signs within its vicinity that brand it. Fans have simply dubbed it “Secret Pizza.” I discovered it by asking the folks I saw carrying white paper plates – the front ends of the pizza slices drooping over the sides.
To find it, without desperately asking like I did, head to my favorite hotel in Vegas -The Cosmopolitan. Take the escalator one floor up from the Marquee club and look for a slender, dimly lit hallway not far from a central pool table. You’ll know you’ve found it when you see the vintage vinyl record covers (mostly Italian artists) wallpapering the way.
At the end of the hallway is a tiny, true-to-the core, New York pizza joint, supervised by chef Chris Vaughn who has said these slices of gastronomic bliss have a 5-year-old sourdough starter with a wild yeast strain.
I can still taste it – that initial bite into a thin, bouncy and bubbled pillow of dough, cutting through a chewy, crunchy-edged pepperoni, then into the salty and stretchy mozzarella, followed by a smooth layer of sweet and tangy tomato sauce and finally the crisp click of the char-flecked crust.
Step up to the honed Carrara marble counter to buy a slice or take a whole pie to go. I salivate for the pepperoni and mushroom but rumor has it that the white pizza (ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil) is a must taste. Something tells me that you can’t go wrong with whatever you order.
At 2:30 a.m. on a Friday night (or shall I say Saturday morning), there’s a steady line of hungry, post-club patrons. So that’s another plus, you can satisfy your pizza craving at a crazy hour. Cosmo guests can also have the pizza delivered to their rooms.
What I like to do is order a slice and head back out to the central pool table. There’s a comfy couch to sit on and people watch and there’s no cost to play pool. Invite a few friends and you’ve got yourself an instant laid-back time in Vegas at a reasonable price.
By the slice (cheese $4.50, white $5.00 and $0.50 per topping).
Whole white pie ($24), cheese pie ($22) and $2.25 per topping or 3 toppings ($26) or 5 toppings ($29) and we’re talking pizzas big enough to feed four people with leftovers!