If Italy's Agriculture Ministry performed a no-notice compliance check at Eagle's Flame Neapolitan Pizzeria, the inspection might result in disciplinary action.
Five years ago, the Italian government published a set of eight rules to which official Neapolitan pizza must adhere. The effort was made to protect the real McCoy's reputation from being tarnished by inferior imposters.
Like every other Neapolitan pizza joint in the Treasure Valley, Flame bends those rules just a wee bit. Peaches and potatoes, both of which are options on a Flame pie, would elicit a pretty thorough tongue lashing from the Agriculture Ministry. It's not a big surprise that neither ingredient has the official seal of approval. Flame's rebellious streak in its approach, however, suggests that, indeed, some rules were meant to be broken.
Housed near the bend of an L-shaped strip mall, Flame is not immediately noticeable. Just inside, the west-facing windows ward off the sun's setting glare with tinted window treatments, and a half wall splits the dining area down the middle. Four-top tables line the middle--bench on one side, chairs on the other--while tables for two suck up to the walls like they're clinging on for dear life.
Aesthetically, the dining room falls squarely into functional, although a few years in business may ease the awkward, empty feeling. Artwork from local students is a homey touch on the walls, and hanging teardrop lamps glow like fireflies above each table, but overall, the look feels unfinished.
The food gives a much different impression.
One recent night, I treated the Eagle-based Daigle clan to a family style Neapolitan smorgasbord, and they couldn't stop yammering about the crust's perfection. For the record, "Daigle" is French, not Italian, and therefore, perfection in this sense does exactly what the Italian government was hoping to avoid: imposes other European sensibilities on the Italian food group. The 20-something, tatted fellow who served as host, waiter and cook, said he and a friend combined a few recipes and tinkered until they found Flame's winning, ultra thin, crispy on the outside, foldable on the inside, light-as-air pizza base.
But crust is only half the battle when it comes to decent pizza. The other half is all the junk loaded on top and how adeptly that tricky task is accomplished. Neapolitan pizza should be an exercise in assertive simplicity. Our chicken and artichoke combination ($7.99-$14.99) and the impossible to pronounce lasagnaza pie ($7.99-$14.99) elegantly met the challenge. A mound of chopped salad ($5.99) prior to the pizza course divided generously three ways, and with just small pockets of stomach space available for dessert, we opted for more crust, of course. We talked our way into a half-and-half fruit pizza ($5.99): peaches and cinnamon on one side, berries on the other, scoops of vanilla gelato melting all over. Again, the crust was exactly what my calorie-conscious dining companions considered supremely ideal, so much so that one of them marched right back into the kitchen to share his enthusiasm with the staff. (And to suggest a heavier hand with both the cinnamon and the sugar.)
So often, the final words we BW reviewers offer about a restaurant--particularly about those found beyond Boise--detail our inclination to return. About a dozen pizza places operate between my house in North Boise and Flame, and I'd consider most of them worthy of the distraction. But when my Eagle-based parents ask where I want to meet them for dinner, I'll suggest their newest favorite pizza joint, the rule-breaking Flame.
--Rachael Daigle tends to be a bit of a rule-breaker herself.Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Flame.