Bringing in the Dough: Another Wave of Pizzarias Hits Boise 

click to enlarge Left to right: Pies from Americana Pizza, Firenza Pizza and Spitfire Craft Pizza & Pints. - COURTESY AMERICANA PIZZA / FIRENZA PIZZA / LEX NELSON
  • Courtesy Americana Pizza / Firenza Pizza / Lex Nelson
  • Left to right: Pies from Americana Pizza, Firenza Pizza and Spitfire Craft Pizza & Pints.

The number of pizza joints in Boise is on the rise, and according to franchise owner Duane Paris, whose new spot, Firenza Pizza, will open in the City of Trees on Tuesday, Dec. 11, the reason why might be simpler than you think.

"I started looking at, where do you see a lot of happy people? And not too often do I see people leaving a pizza restaurant not happy," said Paris. "And it's a fairly recession-proof industry. If you look at statistics, 80 percent of people eat pizza once a month."

click to enlarge Firenza's downtown Boise location will be the chain's first in Idaho. - COURTESY FIRENZA PIZZA
  • Courtesy Firenza Pizza
  • Firenza's downtown Boise location will be the chain's first in Idaho.

Firenza, the first Idaho outpost of a Virginia-based chain, is one of three new Boise pizza spots—the others being Spitfire Craft Pizza & Pints, which is already doing business on the Boise Bench, and Americana Pizza, slated to open this month near Rhodes Skate Park. Firenza scored a spot on the first floor of the CenturyLink building downtown above what used to be Angell's Bar and Grill Renato. It's based on a fast-casual, build-your-own concept similar to chains like Blaze Pizza and MOD Pizza, but Paris said its high-quality ingredients set Firenza apart.

"Our dough and ingredients are made fresh in house, and our dough isn't pressed in a tortilla press, it's actually hand-stretched in front of the customer," he explained.

For now, Firenza won't do delivery, but Paris said he's open to the idea of "pizza runners" ferrying pies to nearby businesses, including Ampersand and Art Haus, two bars slated to open in the old Angell's space.

[Update: After conversation with the owners of the bars, Paris said delivery to them will not be happening.]

Spitfire Craft Pizza & Pints, a one-off pizzeria at 2450 S. Vista Ave., doesn't deliver either—but it has something else up its sleeve to get customers excited: Detroit-style pizza, a novel concept for the City of Trees. If you're a fan of Chicago-style deep-dish, Detroit style may be the best kind of pizza you've never heard of. Made in rectangular cast iron pans, the Michigan pies were first baked in 1946 when, legend has it, creator Gus Guerra sourced vessels from a nearby auto parts factory and filled them with dough.

click to enlarge BW tried Spitfire's Detriot Supreme pizza topped with sausage, mushrooms, olives and smoked pepperoni under the cheese. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • BW tried Spitfire's Detriot Supreme pizza topped with sausage, mushrooms, olives and smoked pepperoni under the cheese.

At Spitfire, co-owner and Idaho native Rich Nichols has his Detroit-style pizzas down to a science. Apart from being thick-crusted and rectangular, the pizzas have a few other quirks: The sauce is ladled on last, and some toppings, like thin-sliced pepperoni, are baked under the cheese. And there's another bit of magic, which Nichols called "the grilled cheese effect"—a crisp, flavor-packed lacing of cheese along the pizza's edges, accomplished by lining each pan with aged cheddar before baking. After taste-testing the Detroit Supreme (which comes with sausage, mushrooms, olives and smoked pepperoni under the cheese), it was clear that the grilled cheese effect is what makes these pies a must. They're easily two-thirds crust, though, so be prepared for leftovers.

Spitfire also offers traditional hand-tossed pizzas, and though its doors have been open to customers for weeks, its official grand opening will run from Monday-Saturday, Dec. 10-15.

Rounding out the trio is Americana Pizza, the brainchild of entrepreneurial skater trio Max Lillie, Brennan Conroy and Lucas Erlebach that's slated to open in the old Reel Foods building at 304 S. Americana Blvd. before the new year. The venture will join Conroy's marketing skills with Lillie and Erlebach's food industry experience (they own Garden City's Gem Street Kitchen and Push & Pour, respectively), and may breathe new life into a neighborhood still in transition.

"That area of town is strange, but it's changing really fast," said Conroy, "...That part of Boise, a year from now who knows what's going to happen over there."

click to enlarge Americana Pizza will offer cornmeal crust pizzas made with its proprietary dough. - COURTESY AMERICANA PIZZA
  • Courtesy Americana Pizza
  • Americana Pizza will offer cornmeal crust pizzas made with its proprietary dough.

Conroy and Lillie were also attracted to the building itself, which is over a century old and packed with quirks that will make it a unique spot to craft and serve pizza.

"We chose that building specifically because they have an artesian well inside the building. In the early 1900s they dug a 600-foot well in there, so we aren't really hooked up to city water. All of our water will be privatized, so our dough will be proprietary for the area," Lillie said.

The pies will be massive and high quality, featuring artisan dough made with King Arthur flour, whole-milk mozzarella, aged Parmesan, San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy and pepperoni flown in from the East Coast. They'll also have a cornmeal crust, which Lillie said is a first for the state. Conroy added that having plenty of specialty vegan options will also be "a high priority." While Americana will sell jumbo $3 slices on paper plates to walk-in skaters from the nearby Rhodes Skate Park, its owners don't expect that to be the business' cornerstone.

"Delivery and takeout will be a major part of our business," Conroy said. "The skaters are just the icing on the cake."

And if Conroy, Erlebach and Lillie get their way, the pizza train won't stop rolling any time soon—they're already talking about opening a second pizza joint in Garden City's Surel Mitchell Live-Work-Create District within the next three years.

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