If there's anything Boise needs less, it's another place to get pizza and burgers. However, Gramercy Park Pizza and Grill is in Meridian, so we'll let it slide.
The restaurant took over the former R&R Public House space and has given these ubiquitous standards some welcome twists to help transform them into standout dishes.
The GPPG pizza ($8.95 personal, $17.95 large), which features a thin, tender crust layered with salami, chorizo, wild mushrooms, olives, red onions, green peppers and leeks, could easily have been a gutbomb. Instead, it used the mozzarella as accoutrement rather than cement, cutting the heaviness and making it almost a light lunch.
The house salad ($4.95) was fairly basic--tomatoes, egg, bacon and grated cheddar over spring mix--but the house-made vanilla basil vinaigrette was a breath of fresh air that somehow made the spring mix taste even more like spring.
Some other good examples of well-tweaked pub standards can be found on the appetizer menu.
One intriguing dish is the Crabber Tots ($9.95), in which house-made tots are infused with blue crab, cheddar, bacon and smoked corn. Though the end result is a bit like fish and chips in the same bite, the stronger flavor and stringier texture stands apart from the standard tot.
Another creative dish on the app menu is a trio of pork belly sliders ($10.95). Filets of battered pork belly are each dressed differently: one with kimchi and chili aioli, another with onion straws and jalepeno, and the third with cumin and cilantro slaw. The only drawback to the sliders are the bland buns the pork comes piled on.
But perhaps the best thing I had at Gramercy Park was an order of veggie wings ($7.95) made with batter-fried florets of cauliflower--a dish that should win the hearts of local vegetarians. The thick batter gave the cauliflower a wing-ish consistency and the buttery red sauce was prepared masterfully with a bold hit of heat but no sting.
And it doesn't hurt that you can enjoy most of these apps for half price Monday-Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. in a pleasant atmosphere with bright windows and a high, domed ceiling.
While Gramercy Park doesn't redefine the gastropub, it is a step up from other burger and pizza joints in the area. And seriously, order those veggie wings. They're delicious.