Flatbread Community Oven 

It Takes A Village ...

Or maybe it just takes a giant pizza oven.

After sprouting from what was once the dead end of Parkcenter Blvd. and a large field of weeds, Bown Crossing has received a few good-natured jabs regarding its empty-Hollywood-set appearance. But the Crossing is much less empty these days than it was when the winter wind was whipping through the newly paved streets. One of first set of doors to open in the "new heart of Southeast Boise" this summer has a mission statement that's congruent with the area's overarching goal: a sense of community.

"You may not know each other, but you can commune together," says Flatbread Community Oven owner Rob Lumsden. Together with his wife Lisa, Lumsden recently moved back to Boise and just five weeks ago, opened Flatbread. "We wanted to tie in that idea with the local community in terms of charity and school support." And Bown Crossing, which was planned as an urban village of sorts where people live, work and shop, mirrored the Lumsdens' desire to create a feeling of neighborhood cohesion through something as seemingly innocuous as food.

A hasty initial glance at Flatbread's menu and interior may not yield the greater vision of the Lumsdens' community bread breaking concept. And one can hardly be faulted for not getting beyond the menu with its shades of gourmet. It's also easy to get distracted by the sleek and clean-lined interior (and spacious patio with not one, but two large, above-ground fire pits). However, with a bit more perseverance, you'll notice that the bulk of the fare is stoned fired in a large oven, creating a space where all diners' meals are prepared together. In addition, a long table at the restaurant's entrance isn't just an ideal space for a large party, it's a community table where smaller groups can congregate loosely with one another by simply sharing a meal space. And those fire pits? Think "hearths."

So just what is flatbread?

"It's what pizza was originally known as in 450 B.C.," says Lumsden. "It's morphed into several different types, but pizza is the most popular form." On Flatbread's menu, diners will find not only the world's most popular form of flatbread topped with any combination of five different cheeses, 13 varieties of fresh vegetables and eight meat choices, but also "flatbreads," which Lumsden describes as "thinner than pizza and with fewer ingredients so that it's different than pizza but with the same flavors," and focaccia sandwiches (insert little known fact here: literally translated, "focaccia" means "flatbread").

While the Lumsdens may be adept conceptualizers, they've also brought a Boise foodie name into their game, Frank Burns. Most well-known around town for his stint with the Basque Market, Burn has also been a staffer at Le Cafe de Paris and Blue Sky Bagel.

"Lisa is really responsible for the menu items, how they are named and structured," says Lumsden. "She came up with the ideas and Frank helped us construct the recipes. We knew what we wanted, but he was instrumental in shaping the flavor profile of the menu."

And an intriguing approach to pizza it is. Mozzarella, ricotta, prosciutto and basil top the lasagna pizza, and the asparagus and prosciutto pie makes for an eyebrow-raiser. Fiery chicken sausage makes an appearance on the list of meat choices and beyond the pie, two of the four focaccia sandwiches and all four pasta choices (including a vegetable lasagna and mac & cheese) take a roast in the community oven. Too hot outside for something "fired"? Five chopped salads with homemade dressings (like Lisa's lemon basil vinaigrette, a honey balsamic vinaigrette and an apple cider vinaigrette) walk on the lighter side.

Flatbread Community Oven, 3139 S. Bown Way, 343-4177, www.flatbreadpizza.com.

Is your restaurant making an effort to use local meats and produce, or purchase only environmentally responsible seafood? Contact Entertainment Editor Rachael Daigle at Rachael@boiseweekly.com.

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