A century-old family heirloom sourdough stakes its claim in Las Vegas
Yukon Pizza, the beloved pop-up staple in residency at Vegas Test Kitchen for the past two years, has partnered with southern Nevada business and real estate developer Dapper Companies to open their first brick-and-mortar shop in the storied Huntridge neighborhood in downtown Las Vegas.
The layout makes intuitive use of the space. Large windows let you see inside and bring a bit of the outside in, making the space seem larger than it is. There is a long counter spanning the depth of the store at which to sit and eat and watch the show—and it is a show. It’s almost a dance; people hover over the ingredients line, placing things just so on the readied dough, then they turn and hand off the raw pie to a waiting pizza peel, where whoever is working the fire turns expertly and slides the pizza smoothly off the peel and onto the floor of the 800-degree oven. An additional rail for standing or barstool seating is available along the opposite wall from the main counter.
Walking into the shop, there is an immediate feeling that they have been in this spot for years. It is cozy, intimate and inviting. Everyone knows one another, and in the rare case that isn’t true, you feel welcomed as if you have been part of the family for years.
Yukon Pizza is literally a family affair. Founder and co-owner Alex White has built the business with his wife Dani Garcia-White, his brother Cameron White, and longtime friend chef Justin Ford. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit both the entertainment industry and the hospitality industry, it was a struggle. The co-founders worked together to feed friends and offer pop-ups in the Huntridge neighborhood before joining Jolene Mannina’s culinary incubator at Vegas Test Kitchen.
A pizza 125 years in the making
The family influence for Yukon’s pizza goes back 125 years. “[White’s] great-great-Grandpa Gilbert started [the] family sourdough yeast culture during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897,” explains Yukon’s website. Gilbert, a miner and merchant, traveled to and worked in the Yukon Goldfields before returning to Seattle. The story goes on to explain the journey of this heirloom sourdough to San Francisco in the 1920s before heading back to the Seattle area. The starter was passed down to his sons and their sons, eventually making its way to Alex.
White continues, “When I left for college, my dad handed me my own mason jar of the family sourdough and told me to take good care of it. As I baked with it more and shared the breads, pancakes, and pizzas I made from it, I came to ultimately enjoy what the sourdough did—bringing people together to share good food and good memories.”
The result of more than a century of care is a chewy, bubbly, charred-in-all-the-right-places pizza crust unique to Las Vegas.
An inclusive menu: something for everyone
Longtime fans of the pizza already, we still felt the need to order as much as possible during our visit.
We dove into four pies: The Grandpa White, a white pie with garlic oil, oregano, mozzarella, confit garlic, parmesan, and ricotta dollops; The Y Train, a red sauce pizza with garlic oil, basil, parmesan, oregano, “NY sauce” and shredded mozzarella; and a Neapolitan white pie called You Had Me at Garlic with garlic oil, garlic ranch sauce, sliced garlic, confit garlic, mozzarella and chili crisp.
We also tried the West Coast Wise Guy–a delicious vegan version of The Wise Guy–with garlic oil, oregano, vegan parmesan and mozzarella, Beyond brand vegan sausage, roasted peppers and onions, and “NY sauce.” Yukon has always offered something for vegetarians and vegans and the current options are broad; there are seven vegan pizzas on the menu as well as vegetable dishes and pasta.
Ingredients such as world-famous San Marzano tomatoes, fresh herbs and a variety of cheeses are generously shared on each pizza; the meats (vegan or otherwise) are superbly spiced; the sauces are unique and inspired; and the options for garlic, more garlic, and even more garlic on the menu makes this writer giddy.
Pro tip: make sure your dining partner is also eating the garlic to avoid any awkward physical closeness after the meal.
Chef Justin Ford—who has trained with Wolfgang Puck and Nancy Silverton—is well known locally for his creative pizzas, burgers, and Korean-inspired fried chicken sandwiches, and more. Ford continues to highlight his thoughtful and creative ideas and offers additional dishes such as cauliflower “wings” with a choice of sweet chili sauce or Buffalo-truffle sauce, fried Brussels sprouts, spaghetti, meatballs, and a kale and Brussels sprouts salad.
In addition to delicious pizzas and other dishes, Yukon Pizza has a love for funky, natural wines. Three choices were available at the time of publication, including: a white, rosé and red wine. You can order it with your meal or to go. The wines will rotate based on availability and the tastes of those behind the counter.
We have it on good authority that the menu will continue to expand as Yukon settles into its new space.
What: Yukon Pizza
Price Range: $10 to $22 per pizza; available in 8” mini or 14” original
Address: Huntridge Shopping Center, 1120 S. Maryland Pkwy., Suite 160 Las Vegas, NV
Phone number: (702) 509-6691
Opening hours: Wednesdays through Sundays, from noon to 10 p.m.
After grabbing a bite to eat, explore seven places to celebrate cuffing season.