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Samudio: My five favorite pizza places in Reno/Sparks

Smiling with Hope
Smiling with Hope is one of Reno's top pizza joins. (Handout)

Here are my five favorite pizza joints in Northern Nevada. Three quick notes: (1) This is not a ranking list, but is rather my five personal favorites, (2) These are ranked in no particular order, and (3) Forgive me, I haven’t visited some of the cool midtown places yet. We're in a pandemic, after all.

Blind Onion Pizza & Pub

I picked up a pie from the location on Kings Row on Monday night. Large pepperoni. Great and friendly service as always and a delicious product. I usually go with the dried peppers and occasionally dip in ranch. I know folks say that if you eat Blind Onion without honey it’s a crime, but I’ve never really been that big of a honey guy. One thing that sets Blind Onion’s pizzas apart is their crust: light, fluffy and chewy. They could sell that on its own as an appetizer.

You can get a large one topping pizza during their 2 p.m.-4 p.m. happy hour for $15. Now, they’re offering to-go beer and wine.

Contact: www.theblindonion.com

Pizza Reno

This great little joint in the heart of downtown Reno drips Biggest Little City history. Pizza Reno has all the classics if that’s your thing, but a quick glance of the menu is intriguing. Thai chicken pizza, Rajun Cajun pizza and Chicken Fajita pizza all catch your attention.

One of my favorite things to do is to order a pie and wings and sit outside at Pizza Reno’s 2nd Street patio and do a little people watching. The people watching downtown is always great, but due to COVID it’s not clear what protocols are being taken at this time. Their website says they are open for dine in and takeout, but it might be a good idea to call ahead.

Contact: www.orderpizzareno.com; 26 W 2nd Street; 775-322-2002

Nu Yalk Pizza

A pizza staple in Reno since 1975, this restaurant has been in the family since 1919. They know how to make authentic New York-style pies at this joint. For years, Nu Yalk Pizza stood strong on the corner of Kietzke and Moana before father progress came along and remodeled the intersection. Now the present brick and mortar sits in south Reno at 9780 South Virginia Street in front of the the WinCo shopping center. My slam dunk here is to get a slice and a soda, garlic all the way for me. Nu Yalk also offers calzones, pasta and even cannoli.

Remember, they’re closed on Mondays! Don’t get burned like I did because once you have some Nu Yalk on your mind, it doesn’t disappear until you’ve snagged some. Dine in and take out are available.

Contact: www.nuyalkpizza.com; 775-826-8508

Smiling with Hope Pizza

Another New York-style restaurant, this establishment is truly one-of-a-kind, not just in the 775. But it would be tough to find a place this special anywhere. It was recently ranked 11th best in the nation. After more than 20 years in education, owners Walter and Judy have created an environment of love, employing and training people with developmental disabilities for years. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced Smiling with Hope to close for the month of January with full expectation of re-opening again soon.

Aside from the great philanthropy work being done here, the pizza is top notch. Their website reads: “Turn off your electronic devices, step back in time, and sit down and enjoy conversation and food with your neighbors as food is meant to be experienced.” Enough said.

Contact: www.smilingwithhopepizza.com; 775-825-1070; 6135 Lakeside Drive, Suite 101

JJ.’s Pie Company

Now, this is a classic Reno-oriented University of Nevada establishment. Perched at 555 West 5th Street in the core of downtown since 1983, J.J.’s was/is the quintessential college hangout that grownup professionals continue to frequent. The pizza is outstanding, but the restaurant offers cold and hot subs as well. J.J.’s sells my favorite sandwich in the city as a matter of fact. The Hot Juan is a piece of magic, just hot-baked roast beef and melted Swiss cheese and jalapenos on buttered and toasted bread. It’s glorious if you like meaty cheesy goodness with a nice kick of heat.

Contact: 775-786-5555; jjspieco.com

No matter what your favorite pizza joint in town is please continue to support local businesses!

Nevada Sports Net sports director Bryan Samudio is the dean of sports journalists in Northern Nevada. You can contact him at bmsamudio@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @BryanSamudio.

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