A good pizza is hard to beat, but when you live in rural America, you don’t have the luxury of a competitive pizzeria market that’s afforded in college towns. You’re often stuck with Domino’s and Pizza Hut – and that’s if you’re lucky. A Papa John’s or the take-and-bake Papa Murphy’s are considered added luxuries.
But in Elko, Nevada, the town is blessed with the addition of the family-oriented, privately owned Pizza Barn, located at 2598 Idaho St. in the East End Mall shopping center. Sure, the idea of a “pizza barn” may not seem appetizing to some, but the food, atmosphere and service more than make up for the misleading name. Indeed, the interior of the restaurant has taken on some country elements and some of the wood construction is similar to the interior of a barn.
The pizza and “hot sack sandwiches” are what make a visit to Pizza Barn worthwhile. The dough is handmade daily from a custom recipe – not a box mix bought through a supplier. The same goes with the sauce. Owner Lane Diedrichsen also formulated a mix of cheeses instead of just relying on mozzarella. While he has never really divulged the combination of cheeses, it has certainly paid off, making a cheese layer that’s not stringy, but not overly grainy and stagnant either.
All the ingredients are fresh, whether it’s the freshly cut veggies or the sausage that’s cooked on the pizza; not preformed and cooked and vacuum-sealed. There are some who even like to have the green bell peppers applied to the pizza a few minutes prior to completion, thus keeping them crisp, but warm and applied to the cheese. There are specialty pizzas, including the barbecued chicken pizza and the chicken and pesto pizza. Both these pizzas are great ways to switch-up the dining experience, and add different flavor to the occasion.
Hot sack sandwiches, which are a sort of homemade, baked Hot Pocket filled with fresh ingredients, is another popular menu item. Fillings range from just every type of fresh veggie to just about every type of meat ingredient found on the pizzas. And, they’re filled with that hot, gooey cheese mixture. Prices for pizzas are comparable to most chain restaurants, although slightly higher. Keep in mind the quality you’re buying, though.
On top of having fresh ingredients and the homemade sauce, the pizzas and hot sacks are baked in a brick-lined oven. There was some concern a year ago when the owner had to buy a new oven, but the bricks soon cured and the same flavor and crisp outer texture came back. The pizza, while it has a crisp outer texture, is still fairly fluffy in the interior. Many pizzas have poor microwave or “next day” appeal, but the fresh ingredients and durable yet very edible crust make for good reheating qualities. Keep in mind with the sauce and awesome cheese mixture; the next day may prove to make the pizza into a “fork and knife” pizza once everything shifts in transit. Still awesome, though.
Aside from the typical soft drinks, Pizza Barn also serves bottled cream and orange sodas and beers brewed by the local microbrewery, Ruby Mountain Brewing Company. Tables are fitted with computerized games, and there’s a big screen television in the corner of the room. If that’s not enough entertainment, there are some video game machines for the kids.
The only bad thing: They don’t deliver. But, if you like their pizza enough, you’ll drive to pick it up. And they do enough family in-store business they really don’t have to deliver.