Flying Pie Pizzaria has kept its focus on hand-tossed pizzas that boast fun names for the better part of 40 years. You could say the place is legendary around these parts. Most people in Boise have consumed their share of blistered Zambinis and other specialty pies dished up here over the years.
But change is in the air at this local pizza chain. The popular eatery recently tweaked its menu (and its name) at the Broadway Avenue location to reflect the tastes of 21st century diners. Besides the venerable lineup of specialty pizzas served at all four locations, the new concept menu at Flying Pie Pizzaria and Bistro lists beer-friendly appetizers, sandwiches and pasta dishes.
Call it a trial balloon of sorts. In other words, the folks at Flying Pie are mixing it up on Broadway to see if diners are interested in a menu that goes well beyond “Whirled Famous Pizza.”
The décor looks remarkably different than it does at the other three Flying Pie spots. The large, open space has a modern, industrial design, hideaway booths and a colorful exhibition kitchen that takes center stage.
You will also find table service here, versus the order-at-the-counter system found at the other locations. The friendly, young servers aim to please and seem genuinely excited about the new menu upgrade. (It’s important to note that there’s a take-out counter with a separate door for those who just want pizzas on the fly.)
Starters include Da Vinci Spiced Ribs ($10.75) and a baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($9.25) that’s on par with its counterparts around town. A cast-iron boat comes brimming with a chunky and creamy mixture of artichoke hearts, spinach and no shortage of garlic, crusted with breadcrumbs and served with house-baked Bread Bites for scooping up the dip.
The aforementioned St. Louis-style pork ribs get coated in a cinnamon-kicked spice rub and slow cooked until tender. The meaty ribs come positioned on a squiggle of tangy Asian-inspired barbecue sauce next to a ramekin of scratch-made pickled veggies.
Another good pick is the Flying Pie Meatballs ($9.75), a cast-iron dish filled with three large orbs (made with seasoned beef, Italian sausage and ground pork) bathed in marinara sauce and sprinkled with grated aged Italian cheese. The tender meatballs are served with a mound of herby Bread Bites for dragging through the aromatic red sauce, pocked with chewy roasted garlic cloves.
While the menu is intentionally void of burgers, it still has its share of gut-bomb sandwiches, including a Leaning Tower of Pizza sandwich ($12.75) that’s inspired by pepperoni pizza. Not quite leaning and tall as the name suggests, this oven-baked sandwich is built on thick-cut bread (think Texas Toast) with layers of crispy pepperoni, fresh basil and a cheesy pizza sauce. Sure, it’s a tad bit greasy, but so is pepperoni pizza in general. The sandwich, all sandwiches for that matter, get served with a side of crispy, baked spiral fries (a twisted steak fry made by the J.R. Simplot Company).
The Countess of Hamwich ($11.25) has eggs Benedict-like qualities without the lemony zing of hollandaise sauce. Instead, the baked sandwich — layered with thick slices of smoky ham and a perfectly cooked sunny-side up egg on top — gets lubed up with thick cheese sauce. It’s a good breakfast-style sandwich that would surely cure a bad hangover.
Flying Pie’s composed salads, served in large bowls, can easily feed two people (ask for an extra plate) and they take care of carnivores and vegetarians alike.
The Chopped Antipasto Salad ($9.75) is a colorful hodgepodge of nutty-tasting arugula, romaine hearts, cured Italian meats (salami and pepperoni), provolone cheese, chickpeas, pickled peppers, grape tomatoes, sliced red onion and black olives. As you can see, there’s a lot going on with this big salad, which comes with a side of zesty Italian vinaigrette.
The tropical-inspired Island Quinoa Salad ($12.25) is just as busy and boasts salty and sweet tastes. A bowl of mixed greens gets mingled with tiny quinoa grains, chopped scallion, dried cranberries and pineapple, crumbled Gorgonzola (not much of this blue-veined cheese, though), sunflower seeds and shredded coconut. A side of honey-lime vinaigrette brings all the flavors together.
The lineup of pasta offerings has comfort in mind. Foghorn Leghorn ($15.25) is baked spiral macaroni coated in a garlicky pesto and cheese sauce, topped with toothsome pieces of seasoned chicken breast and a crunchy layer of breadcrumbs.
All in all, some dishes are clearly better than others on Flying Pie’s bistro menu, but diners seem to be responding well to the new creations, which help to push the eatery past the point of just being a pizza joint.
James Patrick Kelly is the Statesman’s restaurant reviewer: Email Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Flying Pie Pizzaria and Bistro
Address: 1326 S. Broadway Ave., Boise
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Menu price range: Appetizers and composed salads $3.29-$12.25; pizzas, sandwiches and pasta dishes $10.25-$25.
Libation situation: Lots of affordable wines (by the glass, bottles and on draft), canned and bottled beers, and a draft brew list that includes around 20 beers from Boise and beyond. You can even score growlers of beer to go.
Kid friendly? Yes, of course.
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Opened: August 2017