Rock (Blvd.) star

Hot and fresh! Natalie Koehler takes a Western bacon pizza out of the oven at Boulevard Pizza.

Hot and fresh! Natalie Koehler takes a Western bacon pizza out of the oven at Boulevard Pizza.


Boulevard Pizza is open Mon. through Thurs. and Sat., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Boulevard Pizza, on Rock Boulevard, specializes in brick-oven thin-crust pizza, and has a number of other options and amenities that make it a quality, locally-owned jewel that I can highly recommend.

My husband and I went on a relatively quiet weeknight evening, with only a few other diners and a couple of barflies in attendance, to meet friends Keith and Janet, their daughter, Gwen, and newborn son, Michael, for what turned out to be a genuinely fun and satisfying family night out for pizza.

The interior has the “old school” pizza parlor ambiance, with big picnic benches for casual, large group dining conjoining a small arcade and a full bar. Numerous trophies acquired by youth sports teams sponsored by Boulevard over the years are proudly displayed high on the walls above the dining area. There are TVs where my husband could follow NCAA basketball action. Our bartender, a member of the junior generation of the owners, was energetic and friendly, quick to provide a Sam Adams or a Shirley Temple.

The appetizers were quickly prepared by polite kitchen staff at the order counter, but were an unpromising start. While we were hungry enough to be happy about the filling mozzarella cheese sticks ($4.95) and deep fried breaded mushrooms ($3.95), both were too oily and more reminiscent of the greasy, cheap starters one might get at a corporate chain than at the quality establishment we ultimately found Boulevard to be.

One oddity: While waiting for our pies we found that, for 25 cents apiece, Gwen could extract a little “happy egg” from the posterior of an amiable looking plastic dinosaur that might well be Barney’s sister. But as we all rifled for quarters to keep the treasure hunt running, young Gwen continually returned with miniature trinkets of the macabre: a toy hand grenade, a pagan death mask, a replica of a severed human finger. I will attempt no explanation.

Whatever. Let’s talk pizza. Janet and Keith ordered the basil pesto medley: roasted chicken, fresh chopped garlic, red onion, green bell pepper and tomatoes ($16.74 for a medium—don’t ask me how fractions like $0.74 have been derived). My husband and I devised our own recipe from the plethora of relatively standard “create your own” options: mushrooms, black olives, red onions, chopped garlic and shrimp, also on a pesto bed ($15.69 for a 4-6 topping medium).

Almost all of us were very pleased with our pizzas. Keith and Janet agreed the pesto was well formulated, and they delighted in the perfectly pre-cooked chicken and thin tomato slices that seemed to melt into a quasi-sauce over the pie. Another delectable outcome was the unique effect of Boulevard’s brick-fired ovens on the final product: While our thin crusts were as perfectly crispy as they should be, the fresh veggie toppings retained a crunchy moistness even in the finely melted mozzarella cheese base. It was just really good. Even Michael, attacking his bottle of formula, seemed vaguely envious.

There was one excoriating appraisal by young Gwen. She declared her special-ordered cheese and crust creation to be “yucky pizza,” although Keith made an important qualification to this assessment: There was no sauce, by request, and Gwen hates pizza anyway.

The bottom line is that Boulevard Pizza constitutes a dramatic advance over the typical pizza chains without the price of the snazzy “gourmet” establishments. The end result is a terrific value and dining experience.