Orbit-Fire Pizzeria recently opened in the former Casanova Pizzeria spot on Vista Avenue in Boise’s Bench Depot neighborhood.
Casanova had earned a loyal following over the years, but after the popular pizzeria moved out earlier this year, the building’s owner, Tom Allegrezza, decided to try his hand at thin-crusted pizzas.
With a name like Allegrezza, you know he’s got something Italian up his sleeve.
The most noticeable change, at least in terms of design, is that the kitchen is now open for all to see. Down came a wall, exposing a shiny, new kitchen with a bright red brick oven that blisters pizza pies in about 2 minutes.
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A stainless steel shelf stocked with packaged sauces and salad dressings lines the wall on one side of the dining room, a red flag that not much scratch cooking is going on in the kitchen.
Places that cook pizzas in less than 3 minutes are all the rage in the suburbs these days (think Blaze Pizza), and Allegrezza strives to offer a similar speedy experience with his rotating-deck pizza oven.
Diners walk in and head up to the counter area, where little pans (behind a sneeze guard, of course) brim with chopped veggies, grated cheeses and assorted meats.
The still-evolving menu points people in the direction of the specialty pizzas with quirky names, or diners can customize their own pizzas.
All pizzas are around 12 inches in diameter and cost $7.55. And all specialty pies get finished with a garlic-infused olive oil, further bolstering the flavors.
During the course of three visits, I tried almost every specialty pizza on the menu.
Let’s start with the crust, the foundation for all good pizza. Orbit-Fire’s crust is thin by design — not quite cracker-thin — and it has the right amount of chewy resistance, meaning it springs back a little with each bite.
A simple cheese pizza is a true barometer of a pizza joint. I liked that the pie didn’t have too much red sauce and it wasn’t weighed down by a ridiculous amount of mozzarella. But the pizza came out of the scorching oven burnt on one side, leaving a bitter taste in our mouths.
In general, Orbit-Fire’s menu has some hits and some misses.
The DOOM pizza stands out as one of the better choices, with its flavorful pureed artichoke sauce, four cheeses and scattered red onion slices, black olives, chicken, basil and spinach.
Orbit-Fire primarily sticks to Italian ingredients for its pies, so don’t expect to find any Thai chicken pizzas or taco pizzas. But that doesn’t mean the place doesn’t dish up newfangled creations with unexpected toppings.
For instance, the Million Dollar Pizza is a hybrid pie with candied bacon, four cheeses, spinach, sliced jalapenos and dabs of cream cheese, drizzled with raspberry-chipotle sauce. A pie like this could either be really good or really bad. I found the interplay of sweet and spicy to be surprisingly tasty.
On the other hand, the barbecue sauce on the Goodfella’s BBQ Chicken pizza was cloyingly sweet, pretty much stealing the focus away from the chunks of barbecued chicken, red onion, oregano and Asiago and Gouda cheeses.
The Dante’s Bacon Me Crazy didn’t make me crazy enough to try it again. Even with its intriguing list of toppings — four cheeses, pepperoni, chopped tomatoes, spinach, chili flakes and of course, bacon — the pizza somehow didn’t come together in a harmonious way.
More traditional pizzas include a meaty offering called Herd’s Favorite, an excellent pie with an aromatic red sauce, mozzarella, spicy sausage, pepperoni, salami and blotches of garlicky pesto.
Sydney’s Classic Margherita Dollops is just that, a classic-driven pizza lightly smothered with red sauce, pesto, fresh basil, Parmesan and dollops of gooey Buffalo mozzarella.
Orbit-Fire added sandwiches and a few pasta dishes to the mix a few weeks ago.
The spaghetti ($11.99) will remind diners of Grandma’s house on a Sunday night. It’s not overly exciting, yet the pasta wasn’t overcooked, and it came tossed in a meaty sugo-style red sauce (from the Allegrezza family recipe book) thickened with bits of beef, sausage and braised pork shoulder. All pasta dishes come with a mixed greens salad and cheesy garlic bread.
I also enjoyed the Italian sausage sandwich ($6.55), a hot grinder made on a long sourdough roll with a plump, split sausage smothered with sautéed mushrooms, onion and green bell pepper.
It appears that Orbit-Fire is still working out some kinks, but service is friendly and people like fast these days.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.