Tiny, tender potatoes decorated with rosemary, onion ash, caperberries and herbed crème fraîche. Kumamoto oysters with lemon, apple, pickled shallot and a dash of red absinthe. Pizzas topped with beef heart and basil pesto or pork jowl, chorizo and pickled jalapeño.
This sounds like fancy food you’d find in a Las Vegas Strip casino, not in a pizza joint sandwiched between bars on Fremont East, and that’s the whole point. Surprises are nice.
Radio City Pizzeria owner Elias Ghanem Jr. and his family, who originally opened their restaurant at the suburban Tivoli Village before setting their sights on Downtown, have brought new partners into their business, allowing for a wholesale revamp. Jake Leslie, a Strip veteran and co-creator of Downtown’s delicious sandwich kiosk the Goodwich, redesigned Radio City and its food and drinks with the help of chef Sean Collins (Rose. Rabbit. Lie., Japonais) and barmen Bryant Jane (Rose. Rabbit. Lie., Vesper) and Lyle Cervenka (Velveteen Rabbit).
The restaurant space is darker, warmer and more welcoming, and the menu is now modern Italian with a focus on top-notch ingredients melded into flavorful small plates (mostly under $10). You can still get classic NY-style pizza—Leslie and Collins completely redid Radio City’s recipe—or opt for 12-inch house pies like the aforementioned combos or one with duck confit, seasonal pesto, red chili and pecorino cheese ($15).
The new guys aren’t close to being done. They’ll introduce fresh pastas soon, and the back patio will become Retroscena, an Amaro bar with a bicycle valet.
How could something so interesting happen to a simple pizza joint? “We wanted to be a cool surprise, but still easy,” Leslie says. “It shouldn’t be a hassle to find a hidden gem.” Agreed.
Radio City Pizzeria 508 Fremont St., 702-982-5055. Daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.