No matter how you slice it, finding affordable, high-quality pizza can be a challenge.
There’s a pizza joint on every street in the Treasure Valley. But if you want to make your car payment next month, better drive on by.
What’s the best pizza value in the Boise area? Does it even exist?
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Meridian is offering a special during National Pizza Month. Every Monday in October, the New York-based chain is selling its 16-inch traditional cheese pizza for $10. Normally, it’s $14. Extra toppings cost more. The deal is good for dine-in and to-go orders only.
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Is the Grimaldi’s promotion worth a trip to The Village at Meridian?
“That’s a reasonable deal,” advises restaurant critic James Patrick Kelly, who reviewed Grimaldi’s for the Idaho Statesman last year. “Grimaldi’s puts out a really good pizza, I think, for the price point. Because of that coal-fired oven, the crust kind of picks up the smokiness of that.”
Years ago, a co-worker and I would grab lunch at Flying Pie, a pizza institution in Boise. Ridiculously, you could get a monstrous, meal-of-a-slice for $2. TWO BUCKS! Plus, all the free bread sticks and dipping sauce you wanted.
We always left happily bloated. And worthless at work in the afternoon. (Sorry, boss.)
Feasting on pizza in Boise requires more of a financial commitment nowadays. If you buy even a smallish pie, you need to consider splitting it to keep the price reasonable. And then grudgingly accept that you might still be hungry afterward.
“Let’s face it,” Kelly says. “Cheese prices and meat prices have skyrocketed in the past decade. So it’s really hard to find pizza for under $15, really, for the most part — unless you’re talking Papa Murphy’s.”
Ah, yes, bake it at home. Eat a ton. Then debate quantity versus quality with your disappointed wife.
“You know what my go-to pizza is when I want affordable pizza?” Kelly says. “Guido’s large cheese pizza. Because it’s like a 20-inch pie for around 14 bucks. They’ve been able to keep the price down.”
This is where pizza breakdowns get complicated. Guido’s in Boise makes “original New York style” pizza.
Some people don’t want thin, foldable pizza. They want thicker, Chicago-style pizza.
“They don’t feel like they’re getting much,” Kelly acknowledges, “because they think thick dough means they’re getting a better value, perhaps. But I don’t want that much dough. I tend to lean toward New York style more than Chicago. Guido’s is very consistent.”
You get extra value from the Guido’s staff, too, Kelly says.
“They’re a little sassy down there. But that’s New York style, right? You know what I mean: ‘Hey, I don’t got all day! Whaddaya want?!’ ... The owner must have trained them well.”
Don’t want attitude? Get your value pizza delivered.
I ate the best pizza I’ve ever had on a hotel room bed in Portland last month.
The entire pie cost only $5.99. Delivered.
From, uh, Domino’s.
Look, it had been a long day, OK? My brother and I played 36 holes of disc golf over the course of six or seven hours. We hadn’t eaten. We’d walked miles. Somehow, we did manage to drink a bit of beer for energy.
I slaughtered an entire medium jalapeno and pepperoni pizza. My little bro left one slice of his pie. We watched ESPN. We were asleep by 10.
Who needs fancy-pants pizza?
“If you have a lot of beer in you, I don’t think it matters,” Kelly says.
It wasn’t a lot of beer. Just a bit. That pie was phenomenal, I tell you.
“They put a lot of garlic in their crust now,” he agrees.
Dude, stop trying to make me feel better about my newfound Domino’s fetish.
“It really kind of has a good taste to it,” he adds.
Fine. A $5.99 Domino’s pie for me, a $14 Guido’s for Kelly, a $10 Grimaldi’s for everyone else this month.
OK, not everyone. Plenty of Idahoans are willing to spend more for higher-quality ingredients.
“Some people want more of a gourmet pizza with prosciutto and goat cheese and figs or whatever,” Kelly says. “It depends on your mood. Some people just want a pepperoni pizza or a cheese pizza.”
Value is where we perceive it. Otherwise, Flying Pie wouldn’t be flying high after decades in business in Boise. And specialty newcomers like North End Pizza and Red Bench Pizza wouldn’t keep popping up.
One thing’s for sure: If you’re craving pizza, it’s easy to find around here.
“I think Messenger out in Nampa — which has damn good pizza — is priced right for Nampa,” Kelly adds, getting in one last recommendation. “If I’m in Nampa, I like to go to Messenger.”
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