When Pizza Rock celebrates its grand opening October 19 on the corner of Third Street and Ogden, it will do so with a cocktail and beer menu that fits nicely into the reawakening Downtown 3rd district: not too hoity-toity, but no frozen, blended daiquiris by the yard, either.
In addition to his in-house crew—led by Ricky Lewis and Elmer Mejicanos—San Francisco’s 11-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani has brought in a guest mixologist, Bar Rescue’s Russell Davis, to contribute two European-inspired, pizza-friendly cocktails to the menu that already features the Marmalade Whiskey Sour, a Moscow Mule and a strawberry, basil, balsamic vinegar cocktail called the Sweet Nothing.
A tribute to San Francisco, where Gemignani has Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Davis’ Folsom Street cocktail is a take on the Aperol Spritz, a classic Italian aperitivo cocktail based on Prosecco, Aperol and soda water. The Russell Davis version begins with a hefty 4-5 ounces of Prosecco in a tall glass. To this he adds 2½ ounces of Aperol infused with fresh raspberries and a dash of orange bitters. This is topped with soda, an orange slice and a few fresh raspberries, for a simple cocktail that is all at once sweet, bitter, tart and effervescent.
Staying with the theme of famous streets, the Sixth Street cocktail (named for Austin, Texas, where Davis says he learned his trade) is a play on the Spanish-Basque kalimotxo (cocavino), a mix of red wine and Coke. Davis’ take is a little more complex, and substitutes sweet vermouth for the red wine, in this case 2 ounces of Carpano Antica Formula. This is topped with Mexican Coke, 2 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters, a ¼-ounce float of Averna amaro, a lemon wheel and a sprinkle of freshly grated cinnamon. Pro tip: Ditch the proffered cocktail straws and drink straight from glass to get the cinnamon aroma while you sip.
If beer is more your speed, look past the bar to the 20 taps and especially the bottle list, which features Santa Fe Brewing Co.’s Java Stout; Dogfish Head and Dan the Automator’s Positive Contact; and one of the most intriguing beers around, Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra, flavored with curry, cumin, cayenne, coconut and kaffir lime leaf. Of course, there are also lowbrow highlights, such as Hamm’s and PBR, which is served, natch, in a paper bag.
What you won’t find here is a blender, “Tony G.” Gemignani says, or cocktails that take five minutes to make, but instead, food-loving beer and cocktails, and bartenders who can still make a great Old Fashioned or Tom Collins. Is that San Francisco-style, like the pizza? Nah, Davis says. “It’s Tony style.”
Pizza Rock, 201 N. Third Street 11 a.m.-midnight Sun-Thu, 11 a.m.-4 a.m. Fri-Sat. Parking validation available for complimentary parking at the adjacent Ogden/Third parking garage, 385-0838, PizzaRockLasVegas.com.