Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eyes on the Pies

Way back in mid-2007, bloggers started buzzing about New York’s Two Boots setting up an outpost in Echo Park adjacent to indie-rock emporium the Echo. With fond memories of the pizzeria from when I was a poor postcollegian bumming around NYC, I looked forward to having another option for a good slice. The amazing Vito’s was long gone (though it had reopened much farther west, on La Cienega), and Il Capriccio had just debuted its pizza offshoot a few months previous to wildly divergent reviews. Of the old standbys, Palermo was passable, but Nicky D’s was pricey and overrated, while Hard Times had become Truly Crappy Times.

More than a year and a half later, Two Boots has finally opened. But in the meantime, so has Garage, Andiamo, Tomato Pie, Lucifer’s, and Cruzer. Pizza Buona, a mere 2 blocks away from Two Boots, is a 50-year-old institution with a loyal clientele. Clearly there’s a glut of pizza joints in the Silverlake–Los Feliz–Echo Park environs now, so the timing seemed unfortunate.

It turns out Two Boots was worth the wait. Inspired by the “two boots” of Italy and Louisiana, the petite parlor enlivens traditional New York pizza with innovative concoctions named after pop cultural icons, like The Big Lebowski’s the Dude (Cajun smoked pork, ground beef, cheddar, and mozzarella) and Andy Kaufmann’s infamous alter ego, the Tony Clifton (wild mushrooms, sweet red pepper pesto, Vidalia onions, and mozzarella).

The BIrd

On a recent evening I settled on the Bird, a white pie topped with spicy Buffalo wings, blue cheese dressing, jalapenos, and a shower of scallions. With a perfectly textured thin cornmeal crust, assertive flavors, and a powerful kick, this slice was outstanding. As a comparison, Tomato Pie’s Hot Wing pizza, which combines similar ingredients, is really skimpy on the toppings and relatively bland.

Selection of slices

Some other pizzas my companions tried were, clockwise from top left, the Larry Tate (a white pie with spinach, plum tomatoes, and fresh garlic), the Mr. Pink (marinated chicken, plum tomatoes, fresh garlic, and mozzarella), the Earth Mother (vegetarian on a Sicilian crust; this one apparently has a Bette Midler tie-in, but I don’t know why), and the Cleopatra Jones (sweet Italian sausage, roasted peppers, onions, and mozzarella). All were very well received.

Photo by Hane C. Lee

Aside from the food, it’s really nice to see that after removing the ugly metal siding that had been added in the name of, I don’t know, modernization, they’ve restored the original brick facade and stone arch, framing a pretty patchwork of stained glass. Inside, the colorful vintage glass globe light fixtures, vibrant mural, and jukebox stocked with funk 45s and ’60s and ’70s pop and soul singles make dining in just as appealing as ordering out.


NLS said...

Hard Times had indeed fallen on hard times but I kinda want to give 'em another chance, I mean, they've recovered from what, a D grade?

Two Boots was nice though, highlight for me was the 45 jukebox.. I think the Little Caesars that my family used to go to in Jackson, MI had the same one... fond memories of a table full of 3rd graders all playing air keyboard to the intro to Jump.

HH said...

two boots...yum! will go again!
don't eat much pizza, but of the local spots i'd say that palermo's el nino pizza is still my favorite. i've tried hard times a couple times and liked it (pre-current ownership). haven't had any of the other local spots though, except for garage pizza once. i think two boots is better than garage.

the two boots storefront signage is very rock of the 80s. coincidentally, that's probably the time in my life when i consumed the most pizza in my it makes perfect sense to me.

thedanielstation said...

the other weekend i tried ordering from two boots but their delivery service hadn't started yet. i was too lazy to actually go to the place, so i ordered from tomato pie, which i had never tried before. i actually thought it was pretty good-- and the pie came in 45 minutes, unlike the close to 2 hours i've had to wait in the past for nicky d's.

Ty said...

i LOVE two boots!!!! i miss it so much!