February 9 is National Pizza Pie Day. I noticed little ado in Boise to honor such a righteous holiday, but even without the hubbub of the masses, I celebrated my ass off.
There are more than 61,000 pizzerias in the United States, and in Boise alone, there are dozens from which to choose. During the month of February, I tried most of the pizza haunts in this one-horse town--including the cleverly identified downtown Piehole.
"What a great name," I thought when the place first opened last year: It serves pizza pie, eating it shuts your piehole, and the place itself is not much more than a hole in the wall covered with stickers and bursting with staff and patrons.
You get your pizza by the slice at Piehole, the way quick-stop pizza joints should be--and priced the way it should be at $1.70 for a slice of cheese (a little more for additional toppings).
Pies are made regularly throughout the day and are sliced and waiting to be reheated in the brick oven when customers order. The reheating takes just a few seconds. By the time you've shelled out your two bucks for the slice, it's already sizzling, bubbling and greasy--the way pizza slices should be.
The New York-style (or Naples-style or Connecticut-style, for those who like to argue history) pie, which is primarily thin, has thankfully and finally graced Boise in half-a-dozen new restaurants. They all have their own shtick, but Piehole has three things going for it.
First, ordering a slice used to be a rarity around Boise, but it is the perfect fast lunch, and Piehole's got a corner on the slice market. Second, it is right smack in the middle of 8th Street between Idaho and Bannock streets, which is super-accessible for any downtown workers in need of a quick bite. Third, it stays open way late for rapid after-party snacks: until 3 a.m. weeknights and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
During my recent pizza celebration at Piehole, which consisted of a quick weekday lunch, I popped in and ordered two slices, one cheese and one basil/red pepper, each of which are staples that they have on hand all the time. They also have pepperoni, potato-bacon and a varying slice-of-the-day option.
Call me a purist, but I firmly believe that anything besides cheese pizza is a different meal than pizza. Except for my experiment with the basil/red pepper slice (just cheese with two basil leaves and two red peppers), I always order cheese. And I always mop up a little of the surface grease with a napkin to dry it off so the shake-on choices won't cruise off with the greasy dribble.
Piehole has the regular free toppers: crushed red pepper, parmesan and garlic powder. This time, I put a few shakes of pepper on the narrow parts and garlic by the crusts.
The pizza was warm, though not hot enough to singe the roof of my mouth, and had a great chewy-to-thin ratio. Pizza is best when it is thin but firm, and stays outstretched with just a slight "V" grip. Piehole nails it.
Though the portions aren't humongous, two slices for lunch is quite filling. One slice would probably have been good enough if I hadn't been so keyed up about celebrating the holiday to the fullest.
--Jennifer Gelband's distant relative, Queen Margherita, invented the word "pizza."