There's no lack of pizza by the slice in Boise, but how do the pie makers stack up against one another? A panel of Boise Weekly judges took the pizza people to task, visiting every slice purveyor we could find. From slice-only pie joints to WinCo, we covered it all in our search for the city's best slice.
Bang for your Buck: $1.75, $2.50 measuring in at whopping 10 inches x 8 inches
Specimens: cheese, pepperoni
Crust: Despite a few dissenting comments among the judges, a majority of the panel enjoyed the crunchy cornmeal-bottomed crust, which still managed to be soft and of not-too-thin, not-too-thick variety.
Grease Factor: Lucky for Front Door, the grease this time around (and all three nights they served up pizza at our music festival last week) was far less than we've had from them before. Then again, maybe the previous oil slick experience was an isolated incident.
Verbal Results: "The fresh cheese just melts and sits ... Rather than turning into a glacial sheet of mozzarella."
Overall: There's no doubt among the judges that Front Door is salty pizza. The debate was whether the salt was a good thing or a bad thing. We did, however, decide the thick-cut pepperoni was very diggable.
105 S. 6th St., 287-9201
Tony's Pizzeria Teatro
Bang for your Buck: $1.75, $2 (add topping for $.50) weighs in at 5-1⁄2 x 8-1/2 (slices only served Mon.-Fri.: noon-3 p.m.)
Specimens: cheese, bell pepper
Crust: The light and crispy, not "doughy" but "bready" crust divided the judges into two camps. Half the judges wholeheartedly endorsed Tony's as superior (superior to who or what, we didn't know ... perhaps all crust past, present and future), despite the crust bubble that was described as "unprime" real estate by those in the opposing camp.
Grease Factor: Nonexistent, so far as pizza goes.
Verbal Results: "The peppers have that smoky pepper flavorand I don't even like peppersbut that's nice."
Overall: Tony's is definitely the place to linger over pizza. The cafe atmosphere is ideal for long lunch "business meetings," rather than grab and go. Again, we were a house divided as a minor majority lauded the sweeter sauce and oh-so-subtle cheese.
105 N. Capitol Blvd. 343-1052
Bang for your Buck: $1.70, $2, $2.10 with the largest slice in at 7 x 8-3⁄4
Specimens: cheese, pastrami, potato bacon alfredo
Crust: Pie Hole's crust was its major malfunction, or so said half the panel. There was lots of it, and one judge described it as "chewy and unremarkable." A crust bubble was considered a scab by the same judge who deemed the Tony's bubble delicious "pizza air." But then a group of judges disagreed, as the Tony's dissers dug on Pie Hole's crust.
Grease Factor: Likely due to the cheese, which was pretty separated, Pie Hole's pie was among greasiest.
Verbal Results: The judges again fall into disagreement similar to that over Tony's. Regarding the pastrami, the panel agrees with one judge who says, "I'd like all these flavors on another crust."
Overall: We love the party interior and we've all enjoyed inebriated late night eats at Pie Hole. At lunch, the selection is stellar with six pies, but even the champions of Pie Hole agree that the quality is best appreciated after dark. And though none of us were big fans of the cheese, the potato bacon alfredo gets an honorable mention as the group's favorite.
800 W. Idaho St. #205, 344-7783
Guido's Original New York
Bang for your Buck: $1.60, $1.85 with a width and length at 7-1⁄2 x 9-1⁄2
Specimens: cheese, white
Crust: Judging by crust alone, two judges give Guido's number one. The white is soooo thin it's almost see-through. But it's always soooo huge that Guido's is a must-fold.
Grease Factor: Puddles and rivers glided across the top of both slices.
Verbal Results: "If I have two dollars and 10 minutes, I'm going to Guido's, even though it wasn't my favorite today."
Overall: We've eaten at Guido's so many times, it's nearly impossible to be objective about it. From experience, we can assure you that it's consistent and consistently good.
235 N. 5th St., 345-9011
Bang for your Buck: $1.75 for a slice and a drink at 7-1/4 x 7-1/2
Specimens: cheese, taco
Crust: Deemed "very Schwan's" by two judges who are apparently in the know as to Schwan's crust, it was a soft, thick and very bready slice.
Grease Factor: The cheese was a "greasy sheet of cheese," but the taco pizza wasn't greasy at alllikely due to the absorbent power of pulverized Cool Ranch Doritos on top.
Verbal Results: "Surprisingly good," was the most often uttered phrase from mouths full of pizza.
Overall: Perhaps the stars aligned on the day of judgment to present us with a particularly positive pizza experience at WinCo, but on hungry bellies with few expectations, we were pleased enough. In retrospect, the taco pizza made us cringe, but at the time, we rather enjoyed its eccentricity. WinCo's biggest advantage was speed. It was the fastest of them all, drinks were included and they even cut up our pizza for us.
110 W. Myrtle St., 424-1634; 8200 Fairview Ave., 377-9840
Bang for your Buck: Get two slices and a pop for $2.50 (slices served everyday 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.) measuring in at 6 x 6-1/2
Specimens: cheese, sausage
Crust: The thick crust, cooked thoroughly on the bottom and gooey on the top, was a bust for some of the judges and bonus for others.
Grease Factor: Average. No puddles were present, but it was definitely greasier eats than, say ... an apple.
Verbal Results: The discussion centered on the sauce/crust-goo situation. More than one defended the goo, saying "I'm down with the crust, but there's just way too much sauce."
Overall: The wait was almost a deal breaker. Had we not been required to wait for the purposes of this highly scientific study, we would have been outta there with empty hands. While the gooey crust had some defenders, the sauce was verbally abused by all, as was the flavorless cheese. However, the one previous Pipeline hater among us admitted that PP wasn't too bad.
1401 Broadway Ave. #127, 384-1111; 10489 W. Overland Rd., 321-9800
Bang for your Buck: $2.59, $4.39 for slices measuring 9 x 7-1/4
Specimens: pepperoni, stuffed (cheese not available at time of visit)
Crust: Talk of crust was nonexistent, as the complaining centered on taste ... or lack thereof. We were, however, able to redirect our attention long enough to remove the thick roll of crust from the stuffed pizza and bang it on the table like a bat of bread.
Grease Factor: The conclusion is that mall eats in the pie department amount to "greasy cardboard." Mmmm ...
Verbal Results: Take your pick: "I'm sorry, but canned spinach and mushrooms screw it all up." "I have a new grossest pizza place." "I so take back all the mean things I ever said about Pizza Pipeline and turn it over the Village Idiot place." And the complete non-verbal response of Amy Atkins pursing her lips and shaking her head in a refusal to take another bite.
Overall: The employees were exceedingly friendly, but the consensus was that the pepperoni was the only flavor (and not a great one) in the entire experience. The pizza stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, ricotta and garlic had the vegetarians all atwitter, but proved to be a huge disappointment, tasting more like steamed canned veggies crammed in a pocket of bread.
350 N. Milwaukee St. #2024, Towne Square Mall, 322-1722
Bang for your Buck: $2.25, $2.65 for a record size slice measuring 9-1/4 x 9 (slices served everyday 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.)
Specimens: fromage a trois, veggie
Crust: Who needs crust when there are free breadsticks to keep your mouth busy while you wait for your pizza? Judges conclude (though not unanimously) that the thin crust is not exceptional, but the varieties in which you can order your dough do gain some extra points.
Grease Factor: "No visible greaseeven on the cheese," proudly reported our grease-o-meter.
Verbal Results: "Judging with these two slices together, FP wins. But individually it may be another story." And on a slightly stranger notethough equally complementaryit was decided that, "This is the best smelling so far, but the crust isn't too crispy given its thinness."
Overall: In a head-to-head competition with group favorite Guido's, the judges determined that Flying Pie's slices were larger, had more toppings and baked a slightly thicker crust than did the downtown hot spot.
4320 W. State St., 345-8585; 6508 W. Fairview Ave., 376-3454
Lulu's fine pizza
Bang for your Buck: $2.10, $2.25 for a slice 10-1/2 x 8-3/4
Disclaimer: Due to Lulu's hours, the panel was unable to attend en masse. Instead, Nicholas Collias braved he task with only his nephew, and what follows are their comments.
LuLu's "fine pizza" (no capitalization, according to the sign. Whatever.) didn't help themselves out much getting into this slice-a-thon. Despite being in grade-A lunch territory on Bogus Basin Road next to Ridley's and across the street from Healthwise, the small, ornate pizzeria doesn't open until just before primetime, meaning we had to race to eat our slices before getting home to watch Entertainment Tonight. Having Lagunitas IPA on draught (as well as orange Fanta in a bottle) helped cushion the blow of the bill for the slices, which are among the most expensive in townand it wasn't immediately apparent why. Lulu's ubiquitous cheese triangle has a unique flavor, with more attention apparently paid to the sauce than the cheese or crust (although this impression may have been accentuated by how old the slice was). On one hand, this approach pays off, as I described the oregano-heavy sauce as "yummy in my M.F. tummy." However, I dissed the crust by saying, "It's nothing but crunch and air. This crust puts the 'crust' in crust."
My 16-year-old cousin Harrison Arthur Schnoor (who, it should be noted, has an official business card identifying him as a Jedi knight), put BW's Editor-in-Chief to shame with his descriptions, dubbing the cheese pizza's crust "dainty," the stale cheese "like the smell when you open an old book" and the no-caps sign "very indie"nice work, indeed. However, then he added inexplicably that the pepperoni "tastes Tuscan." After a long and awkward silence, we tucked into an exceedingly sweet, onion-heavy slice of barbecue chicken pizza. I shared my portion of the slice with my lap, which found it both over-sauced and a nice color complement to the coffee from earlier that morning. Schnoor added, "I don't know what the deal is with that one." While the salads and other pizzas on the menu looked intriguing, LuLu's slices were no match for the downtown joints.