Food & Drink » Food

Casanova Pizzeria Mounts a Comeback

Plus The Bench, Prost! Boise and Al-Sham open


After a decade in business, Casanova Pizzeria at 1204 S. Vista Ave. shut its doors on Valentine's Day 2015. According to owner Dan Guild, the landlord wouldn't renew the restaurant's lease. But fans of Casanova's arugula-topped Juno pizza and fig-laden Medusa pie are in luck: Guild hopes to be back in business as soon as possible.

"We're just looking for a new location and we haven't found one yet," said Guild. "We're working with a realtor right now and just basically trying to find the right spot."

Guild said he's on the hunt for "something a little bigger" with "a little better parking" and recently got in touch with the people working to open the Reserve Street Armory.

"They're pretty excited to hear that I was interested in moving into the neighborhood," said Guild. "They're looking to put maybe a brewery in there, maybe a restaurant."

Wherever Casanova ends up, Guild said his priority for the new location is stability.

"We opened that place [on Vista] and put tons of money into it and then basically we have to kind of start over again and do the same thing again in that next space," said Guild. "We want to do it right this time, so we're looking to maybe buy a property so we don't have to deal with a landlord. It's just taking a little longer because we don't want to be uprooted so quickly."

Meanwhile, building owner Tom Allegrezza is in the process of opening a pizza joint in Casanova's former location called Orbit Fire Pizzeria. Allegrezza didn't return calls for comment, but according to documents filed with the city of Boise, the building is currently undergoing a $22,500 renovation that includes removing some interior walls to increase the dining area and installing a new kitchen. No word yet on an opening date.

In other Bench opening news, a new pub called The Bench Neighborhood Bar recently opened next to BBQ4LIFE in the Vista Village Shopping Center. The straightforward name is an apt descriptor of the simple space: The tiny pub features a long rectangular bar, a few high tables and a couple of TVs playing sports at low volume.

There's no cocktail menu or craft beer list, but The Bench does offer six beers on tap, including Payette's North Fork Lager, Deschutes' Black Butte Porter and Sockeye's Angel's Perch Amber. The spot also serves liquor but only has a few bottles stocked on its shelves, including Crown Royal, Pendleton and Jameson. Happy hour runs seven days a week from 3-7 p.m. Wells are $3, domestics are $2.75 and micros are $3.25.

In other pub opening news, Prost! Boise is now slinging steins at 274 Eighth St. The German beer bar features a front patio dotted with red umbrellas and wooden picnic tables. Inside, the small wood-adorned space boasts a long bar with stool seating and a few more picnic tables.

Prost! patrons can sip on 1-liter and 0.5-liter steins of German beer, including classics like Bitburger Pils and Hofbrau Original, along with less familiar brews like Ayinger Celebrator and Grevensteiner.

The pub also has some interesting items on its menu, including braunschweiger—described as a classic German pate with toasted rye, stone ground mustard and Granny Smith apple slices—and German sausage like knackwurst, jagdwurst, bratwurst, cervelat and weisswurst. According to the menu, some of the sausages are sourced from Bavarian Meats in Seattle, where Prost! Boise's parent company, Prost German Pubs, is based.

In other meaty news, Pigapalooza was cancelled, but organizers are hoping to reschedule. The pork party was slated to go down June 13 in the parking lot across the street from Grind Modern Burger, with a barbecue competition, samples and beer from PostModern Brewers.

Grind's Rick Boyd said event organizer Tatiana Martz had trouble booking enough cookers for the event.

"She was having difficulty lining up enough barbecue vendors because there were so many other competing events going on that weekend around the state," said Boyd.

Pigapalooza organizers had hoped to round up at least 10 vendors but only managed to secure three. Boyd said they're hoping to find another "empty window in a pretty crowded summer" to hold Pigapalooza.

"We're hoping to move it to another date; [Martz] hasn't picked a date yet," said Boyd. "She's still looking at the calendar and finding what fits and having conversations with some of the vendors that wanted to do it but couldn't because of previous commitments."

In other opening news, Al-Sham Arabic Food is now open in the space that formerly housed Amir Mediterranean Food and Bakery at 201 W. Boise Ave. According to an employee, Al-Sham took over the space in early April when former Amir owner Luay Kayyali moved to California.

The restaurant's menu is handwritten in Arabic and English on manila file folders stapled to the wall. For $15, you can get a beef kebab, beef shakaf or shish taouk with salad. The spot also sells a shawarma sandwich for $6 or shawarma in a box for $13. The small space boasts a few modest tables and coolers stocked with desserts, various sodas and fruit drinks. If you'd prefer to eat your kebab in a fancier booth, you can order at the counter and grab a seat in the adjoining restaurant space.