Chris Palmeri Gets Inspired At Naked City Pizza

Naked City Pizza has been getting fancy, as chef-owner Chris Palmeri gets inspired by local farmers’ markets and seasonal ingredients.

For those who aren’t already aware, Palmeri is more than just one of Las Vegas’ top pizza makers. The founder of Naked City Pizza – which has two locations in Las Vegas and one in Buffalo, New York – has plenty of experience cooking in upscale restaurants. And he’s flexing those muscles in a series of weekly menus at Naked City’s Paradise Road location (adjacent to the Office Bar) near Harry Reid International Airport.

Chris Palmeri (right) with brother/partner Michael

“I get bored sometimes,” Palmeri responds when I ask him about the inspiration for his Tuesday Pasta Nights, Sunday brunch menus, and the recently launched Friday night Market Meals.

“I love pizza and I love wings. But I’ve been doing it for so long that once in a while it’s nice to do something else.”

A Strip Veteran Revisits His Roots

Before launching his Naked City brand, which skyrocketed to national fame after being featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-In and Dives, Palmeri worked his way up the corporate culinary ladder on the Strip. At one point, he was the youngest executive chef in the MGM Resorts family, running celebrity chef Rick Bayless’ Mexican restaurant Diego in the MGM Grand. And more than a decade after leaving that life, some of his old habits have returned.

“I started going to farmers markets again,” Palmeri recently told the Food and Loathing podcast. “I got inspired, and wanted to do something to remind myself I could still cook.”

Upscale Offerings

His first indulgence of that itch was his Tuesday night pasta night, which recently featured porchetta over pappardelle with vodka sauce and Crackling Crumble. More recently, he rolled out a Sunday brunch menu with offerings like breakfast sandwiches and breakfast pizzas.

Palmeri’s latest creations, which he’s calling Chef Crafted Market Meals, are available in very limited numbers on Friday nights – launching on April 5 with a five-course dinner of three-day fermented focaccia with spreads, a market salad, wild mushroom risotto with truffle, Florentine steak and zabaione dessert. It was launched to fill the void created when his Lenten Friday Fish Fry (a tradition among Boston Roman Catholics) was discontinued after Easter.

“Every week, I’m going to change it,” Palmeri explains of the meals. “I want to put it up [on social media] by Monday or Tuesday. I’m only going to offer about eight of them a week on Friday nights. And if excitement grows, maybe we’ll add a Saturday night for it. But for right now it’s just something to offer people that’s special, and we take a lot of care with it.”