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A plethora of pizza
Pie choices abound in valley, from town to village and park.
By Bru, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: December 5, 2012
Click here to see more photos of pizza around Jackson Hole.
No doubt about it. People love pizza.
Of the 5 billion pizzas sold worldwide in 2010, 3 billion were sold in the United States. In Jackson Hole we are doing our best to help with that effort. The number of local eateries serving pizza keeps growing.
It’s a pizza war. Actually, it’s both love and war.
More than a dozen places pride themselves on their pizzas. It doesn’t seem like war. There seems to be plenty of customers for all.
Each place fills its own little fiefdom in a variety of ways. Maybe in recessionary times the price range is comfortable. Perhaps the aroma and combination of crusty goodness, cheesy richness and favorite toppings creates the ultimate comfort food.
Environment plays its own part. Do you want pizza delivered to your door? It can happen. Does it feel heroic to pick up a pizza and burst through the door, bringing home the Canadian bacon? How about the bright lights and bustle of a family eatery? Maybe cozying up to a dark stone bar with a tall glass of wine and watching your pizza brown in the glow of the wood-fired oven is appealing. All options are available not far from work or home.
Calico Pizza was Jackson Hole’s original pie parlor. The building, once a Mormon Row church, was moved to its west bank location in the late 1960s. Painted red with white stripes, its one room furnished with a few picnic tables and benches, Calico offered limited menu choices. Dean Betts, an early owner and food pioneer in the valley, brought us the original white-sauced Parmesan pizza.
Through the decades, Parmesan has disappeared and reappeared. The restaurant will make one even when it’s not on the menu.
Calico is not the only option now, but it’s still a great choice for delectable pies with far better crust than the original. The cuisine, the building, the gardens and summer playground just off the deck keep Calico a popular dining destination.
Opened by Bill Field in 1980, Mountain High Pizza Pie has the broadest range in prices and varieties. It offers white or wheat crust, rolled thick, thin or deep dish. As Mountain High tends to underbake, it’s good to ask for crispy.
When the Snake River Grill opened in 1993, Jackson got its first taste of the modern version of pizza from a wood-fired oven with exotic toppings. Served as a first course, these delicately crisped little platters feature premium ingredients, including house-made sausages, imported cheeses, smoked salmon and fresh herbs. Snake River Grill still offers enticing choices such as chorizo, arugula and steak tartare.
Snake River Brewing has made its reputation with award-winning beers since 1993. Its food has evolved. Now it’s reputed to serve some of the best pub food in America, including eight varieties of individual-size pizzas. The daily special, chef’s choice, might include duck confit and pancetta, toasted pistachios, dried cherries, mushrooms or sherry cream sauce with a truffle drizzle. The classic pepperoni reminds one of childhood. The brewpub’s crust does not carry a memory of living yeast, rather flat and crispy.
At Il Villaggio Osteria in Teton Village, pizza time is show time. Cassidy Hudson, the pizzaiola, is a wizard with pies. Dedicated to her craft, she seeks to be selected for the U.S. team in the Pizza Olympics. She tosses dough behind her back and under her leg at top speed. She is a perfectionist who cares for each pie with tenderness from tossing to topping, from the fire to your table.
In March, Hudson will compete at the Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
Osteria serves eight pizzas with terrific names. Danny DeVito has braised short rib, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, basil and pecorino moliterno. Silence of the Lambs features mint-infused olive oil, house-made lamb sausage, charred fennel and celery, wilted spinach, feta. Special flour imported from Italy makes the best thin crust ever.
Since its evolution into Giovanni’s Medi-Italian Restaurant, you can find dynamic food and excellent pizzas at the 690 W. Broadway eatery. Twelve-inch pies include one with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, truffled pecorino, cream, fontina, thyme, rosemary and arugula. There’s one with white clams, oven-roasted tomatoes, garlic and fontina. Pies have chewy crusts, not too thick, with ample toppings.
One might remember Alex von Salad, who in 2008 opened Cafe Ponza in the Pink Garter Plaza, changing his business model in 2009 to a late-night pizzeria.
After Ponza went under in 2010, valley native Tom Fay decided the pizza industry here could be improved with by-the-slice and late-night options. He opened Pinky G’s in June 2011.
Pinky G’s obviously fills a need. It has had great feedback, including being voted the valley’s Best Pizza by the readers of JH Weekly in the spring of 2012.
There is no denying the rich, cheesy goodness. Pinky G’s has a unique Porky G, with pulled pork plus red and green peppers.
Remember “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”? In the fancy restaurant scene the truant Bueller claims to be Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago. G’s features an Abe Froman with spicy sausage, buffalo mozzarella and basil. There is a gluten-free crust option at no cost.
Trio, an American Bistro, has the costliest history in the pizza wars. One unfortunate winter evening two years ago, wind in the chimney blew embers from the oven into the woodpile during end-of-night clean-up. Luckily, some late-night passers-by saw and reported the fire within the hour. The fire closed Trio for many weeks. The restaurant’s Verde is a memorable treat with roasted artichokes, Spanish green olives, basil pesto and mozzarella.
Although pizza is not the Garage’s focus, the restaurant offers two varieties on ovals of grilled fresh dough. One is simply cheese and the other a Margharita sauced with a roasted almond pesto and topped with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.
Dornan’s in Moose is a pleasure whether you eat pizza or not. The astounding selection of fine wines and unbeatable views go well with everything. Dornan’s pizzas, named after the mountains outside its windows, come on substantial chewy crusts.
Stephen Colbert gave Pizzeria Caldera a “thumbs up” endorsement during his visit last summer. Owner Chris Hansen opened his pizzeria a year ago, feeling there was a niche that needed to be filled. The Napolitana-style pies pictured online look good enough to make one’s mouth water.
The stone hearth oven is gas-fired for consistent heat, producing just the right mix of chewy and crisp crust. It is the real thing.
Dinner service is about whole pizzas and meals. Research has produced the best-quality gluten-free crust option, each with its own serving plate to keep it free from flour contamination for $2.
Firebelly Artisan Pizza, a new business that features a mobile wood-fired pizza oven on a trailer pulled to events, makes authentic Neapolitan thin-crust pizzas. Owner Karen Hogan aspires to connect kids with great food via pizza cooking classes. After a successful first summer of special events, including casual weddings, anniversary and birthday parties, look for a return in June.
In summer, 43 North serves pizza on its rooftop deck by the foot of Snow King Mountain. Named after local places, choices include the Spring Gulch, with basil pesto, grilled steak and roasted red peppers. Next summer, the pie toppings need to gain a bit of pizazz. The wood-fired crust is crisp and chewy. The restaurant also offers a gluten-free crust option.
During the busy summer season, more pizzas appear. The Hatchet Motel in Buffalo Valley has a hospitable presence and satisfying down-home food. Leeks Marina in Grand Teton National Park serves a mean pizza, just right after a day on Jackson Lake.
No matter the time of year, both franchise establishments, Domino’s and Pizza Hut, are the rocks of stability in the shifting pizza world. You know you will be served or delivered just exactly what you order. There is satisfaction in that.
Rumors of pizza wars are greatly exaggerated. It’s better to see it as abundance.
Click here to see more photos of pizza around Jackson Hole.