Best of KC 2020: Chef Nick Vella (RIP) was the rising star of the food world
This month, we published The Pitch’s annual Best of Kansas City issue. You can browse the results of the readers’ poll here. The issue also included a list, compiled and written by our editorial staff, of some of our current favorite things about Kansas City in 2020. We’ll be publishing these items online throughout November.
Kansas Citians have praised Nick Vella’s just-right Goldilocks pizza dough since he began slinging pies out of his home kitchen in early April. At the time, Vella was on furlough from The Savoy at 21C. He spent the next few months hustling and perfecting his high-low flavor combinations. The result was a cult hit pizza outfit, Observation Pizza, that has built a loyal and (rapidly expanding) fan base.
Vella was incredibly easy to root for: an obvious talent, an exacting craftsman, and a mad goofball who never seemed to take himself too seriously. The man named pizzas after members of the Grateful Dead and drizzled bacon fat and ranch dressing over the same American-cheesed pie. He was also devoted to his work and on track to make his dream of a brick-and-mortar restaurant with a permanent address a reality.
Vella died in a tragic motorcycle accident in August. There’s nothing we can say that will make that loss any easier to stomach. But Vella’s dream—Observation Pizza—lives on in the hands of the employees he hired and trusted with his recipes and vision. RIP to the realest one—and thanks for leaving this city one hell of a parting gift.