With 1967 beginnings as a franchised Shakey’s pizzeria, family operated Boulevard Pizza is a Sparks institution. Having gone independent 20 years after opening, the menu has apparently changed very little over the last couple of decades. It’s the kind of picnic table, bring the whole team, community institution that generations of customers revere and patronize. I hadn’t been in that neighborhood for ages, so I figured it was about time.
There’s a full bar, a salad bar, oven-toasted hero sandwiches, garlic and cheese breads and a pretty standard selection of deep-fried bar appetizers. For dinner on a busy weekend evening, we had eyes only for pizza and chicken. I have to note that the staff operated like a well-oiled machine. I was really impressed with how efficiently they handled the dinner rush of dine-in and to-go orders.
My three-piece order of fried chicken and rojo potatoes ($5.95) consisted of marinated, deep-fried chicken parts coated in a lightly spicy blend of seasonings. The spuds were a little crispy and a little soft, which I generally enjoyed. The meat was moist, but there was a ton of hard, very crunchy coating. If you’ve got the dentition to tackle it, it’s pretty good. I nearly broke a tooth.
Chicken wings ($5.45, five pieces) are available as Buffalo-style mild, medium, hot and “insane,” tangy barbecue and sweet/spicy Thai chili. We went with the Thai and insane. Both were really crispy, though just a tad overcooked and dry. The hot wings were “guaranteed to burn twice,” and definitely gave it a go—not for the heat averse. The Thai wings were definitely deserving of accolades, with notes of chili paste, tamarind and peanut sauce and sprinkled with chopped garlic.
Finally, we ordered four small specialty pies. The Boulevard combo ($12.65) was a pretty classic combination of red sauce, mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, ground beef, mild Italian sausage, mushroom, black olive, red onion and bell pepper (The cost was $11.85 sans onion and pepper). The crust and sauce really brought back childhood memories of Shakey’s—a one-note, thin, crispy-though-pliable crust with crunchy cracker edges and basic marinara. It’s not remotely gourmet and not trying to be—its a classic example of, “If it works, don’t fix it.”
The basil pesto medley ($11.85) combined basil pesto sauce, roasted chicken, garlic, red onion, bell pepper, mozzarella and fresh tomato. Here, the thin crust didn’t have much assistance from the moisture of sauce or toppings, so it was just shy of being hardtack—extra crunchy. There was just a hint of sauce—not much sense of basil—but the chicken was tender and the veggie combo enjoyable.
The Mexirito ($11.45), was topped with refried beans and a picante sauce, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, mozzarella and cheddar and sliced jalapeño. It was pretty much a tostada on a slightly thicker, flour tortilla. Ground beef is my least go-to topping, but this seasoned meat was actually pretty good. The leftover pie was even better at home with a dollop of sour cream and a liberal dose of hot sauce.
Saving the best for last, the Chuck’s Special ($11.45) came with mozzarella and cheddar, pepperoni, black olive, red onion, bell pepper and jalapeño. It was pretty much perfect. I’ve never met Chuck, but—based on this pie—I’d say he’s the kind of guy you’d like to share a beer and a slice with.