In the kitchen of Fremont Street’s Evel Pie pizzeria, there’s a new ingredient landing atop New York-style slices: Grasshoppers. Reno Gazette Journal
LAS VEGAS – In the kitchen of Fremont Street’s Evel Pie pizzeria, there’s a new ingredient landing atop New York-style slices.
And you might call it chicken of the desert: Grasshoppers.
“The Canyon Hopper” pizza hit the menu this week after a Biblical level migration of pallid-winged grasshoppers swarmed Sin City’s neon lights and sidewalks – an invasion so thick it looked like a storm on weather radar.
“It’s hit the world by swarm,” Branden Powers, Evel Pie’s managing partner and creator, told the USA TODAY Network.
If you stop into the parlor at 508 Fremont St. in downtown Las Vegas, a slice will cost $5.50. But supplies are selling out fast.
Laughing in the face of the swarm
A California transplant from Bakersfield who grew up in a pizza parlor family, Powers drew inspiration for the Canyon Hopper from Las Vegas regulars who seem unfazed by the bug storm.
“One of the biblical plagues invades Las Vegas, and we laugh in the face of it,” Powers said. “You see all these old ladies – my grandma was one of them – playing the slot machines while Rome burns around them, still on their oxygen, smoking cigarettes. That’s basically Las Vegas.”
Like other pies flying into ovens here, the Canyon Hopper is an ode to Evel Knievel, the daredevil known for his adventurous spirit and death-defying stunts.
And it’s not bad. (Editor’s note: Yes, this reporter tried the Canyon Hopper pizza. He lived to tell the tale – and write this story).
Topping a base of baked goat cheese, caramelized onions and chorizo is arugula and a few healthy sprinkles of roasted grasshoppers seasoned with lime and garlic.
Biting into a roasted grasshopper, it turns out, is like chewing on a pork rind.
Where did the grasshopper toppings come from?
“Everybody’s worried we’re taking a shovel outside,” Powers said.
He actually ordered them on Amazon Prime. They arrived in bags from Oaxaca, a Mexican city known for grasshoppers – or “chapulines.”
The Evel Pie crew thought the novelty insect slices would entice a few curious customers looking for a weird Las Vegas adventure to walk in and try it.
So wrong, they were.
Vegas bug patrol
“We literally thought it was going to be three slices a day,” said Corey Horan, Evel Pie’s general manager. “”We thought it was a good joke, a good time – maybe we’d get a couple people to try it. We didn’t anticipate this.”
The endeavor started with a few four-ounce bags of bugs. But soon after the Canyon Hopper hit the menu, the kitchen ran out of grasshoppers.
“We had to scramble and go all around the city. Went to Ethiopian markets, Thai markets,” Powers said. “Eighty percent of the planet eats insects, except us. We eat a couple pounds a year, and we don’t know it.”
A hopping hand
Eventually, the Vegas pie-slingers found a Mexican restaurant willing to relinquish some chapulines to help Evel Pie keep the Canyon Hoppers cooking.
Evel Pie has another shipment of grasshoppers arriving Friday to keep up with demand.
“I originally wanted to do a beer and wings special, but the wings are just too tiny, so we decided to go with pizza,” Powers said. “It really bugs me.”
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here.
Read or Share this story: https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2019/08/01/pizza-las-vegas-grasshoppers-evel-pie-pizzeria-fremont-street/1891321001/