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Boot and Shoe Service (aka Pizzaiolo 2) open! (Oakland)

For those of us who have been peering repeatedly and impatiently through the old DiBartolo's windows, the new Pizzaiolo offshoot in the Grand Lake neighborhood is open - and it's really good.

The menu is very similar to Pizzaiolo's, with the omission of their fresh pastas (I think the desserts are simpler too. I almost never make it to dessert at Pizzaiolo, so can't say for sure). Appetizers were excellent - we had super fresh sardines paired with beets, spicy cumin-flavored carrots, and yogurt, and a perfectly fried fritto misto of cauliflower, red onion, meyer lemon, and delicata squash.

I think the oven doesn't get quite as hot as Pizzaiolo's - the crusts are a bit less blistered and charred (which I think some people may actually prefer). The clam pizza was absolutely fantastic - big fat juicy clam bellies, chili, garlic, parsley, no red sauce. A dining companion who's spent 8 years of his life in New Haven had to admit it was better than any clam pizza he'd had there.

The squid pizza, one of my favorites at Pizzaiolo, wasn't quite as good - the squid was oversalted, and the seafood itself seemed less fresh. The beauty of this dish at Pizzaiolo is the seamless transition between aioli, squid, and crust, and they weren't quite able to achieve that here.

Cocktails were superb. I was happy to see that they have Pizzaiolo's outstanding house-made tonic hear as well, and given the much larger and more attractive bar space at Boot and Shoe, I plan to get my artisan G&Ts here from now on.

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  1. Thanks for that, very exciting news. I like the char on the pizzas, hopefully they can turn the heat up a notch. And am also a fan of that lovely tonic. What a great place to have. I only wish there was one in the City. Flour + Water just does not cut it, compared to Pizzaiolo, in my opinion. I'm really anxious to try that clam pizza - you made my mouth water, AFTER dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mariacarmen

      Tony's Pizza Napoletana in North Beach is open now. I had the $18 2007 world competition award winner at lunch. It was okay. Crust was solid, but the pizza was kind of watery and too much cheese. Seems it was like they grated the cheese and spread it all around

    2. Fantastic news, can't wait to go. I'm especially excited about that fritto misto, I was hoping that the appetizers would be great here too. Is the space the same as Di Bartolo's was -- do they still have the front and back rooms?

      2 Replies
      1. re: JasmineG

        Yep, and the back room is still just the bar - a nice, separate space where you don't have to worry about bumping into someone's table while you're waiting for your your own. I do like how Pizzaiolo's removed the table closest to the window and turned it into a seated waiting area, but, it's not as good as having a comfortable, separate bar area.

        1. re: daveena

          Excellent, I loved that back bar room at Di Bartolo, I can't wait to stop in at Boot and Shoe, even with the kind of dreadful name.

      2. They are still work out the kinks. We had 3 pizzas and they had inconsistent crusts.

        The margherita was a bit soggy in the middle, clam pizza had a stellar crust, and the nettle pizza was approaching stellar. Give them some time.

        The beet and avocado salad is also great.

        The place is pretty dark inside and loud but hey its a bar / pizza joint..

        Bunch of pictures here:

        1. What a strange, hipster-ish name for a restaurant. Anyone know the story behind that?

          Anyway, we went tonight and I would give it a thumbs up. I actually like that they don't do reservations, especially since it's close to where we live--we got there when they opened (5:30) and were pretty much seated right away. At Pizzaiolo it seemed like I could only ever secure a 9:30 p.m. reservation if I called the day of.

          The food was all very good. Complimentary olives were very tasty. Fritto Misto ($10) with aioli was excellent--especially liked the fennel and the Meyer lemon in there. And we also shared the clam pizza (with sausage added)--the crust was good, could have maybe still been a tad bit crisper, but I definitely wouldn't describe it as soggy. I seem to recall that Pizzaiolo is a bit more generous with the clams, but that's not a huge complaint. Flavors were great, as with Pizzaiolo's version.

          Also had the tonic, which was quite refreshing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: abstractpoet

            Boot and Shoe Service was a former business in that space.

          2. Any updates from folks who have been recently? Have they worked out the kinks? & how is the wait on a Friday night?

            6 Replies
            1. re: indigirl

              I've been a few times in the last few weeks - the food has been consistently excellent (I had one inedibly salty clam pizza a few months ago, but haven't had an excessively salty pizza since), and the appetizers seem to be getting more ambitious. Cocktails are consistently stellar. If they offer the clam pizza with aioli, get it - I think it's even better than the squid pizza with aioli.

              The front room is packed by 6:30, mostly with families, and is extremely noisy. I actually had to duck into the bar with my friends so we could hear each other. Tables are much easier to come by around 9 pm, so if you don't feel like standing on line, go before 6:30 or after 9.

              1. re: indigirl

                I've been going for takeout about twice a month since the beginning of the year. It has supplanted Dopo as our favorite pizza. Both the Marinara and the Margherita are simple and outstanding. Pizzas are always cooked perfectly with just a bit of char on the chewy crust. Haven't had any problems with overly salty dishes after the first couple visits. Salads are also excellent if slightly pricey.

                Mild warning about getting Boot & Shoe to go - even when I grab the pizzas stright from the oven they are pretty much cold by the time I get home (and I don't live more than 5 minutes away). That's just the nature of this kind of pizza. Luckily the flavors are good enough that we don't mind.

                The one time I've gone to eat at the restaurant was on a Friday. We were told that a table would be available "soon". Waited at the bar for over an hour and finally decided to just eat at the bar. Eating at the bar was fine, I just wish they would have warned us how long the wait for a table would really be. Service is always nice and friendly, even on the night we were stuck waiting at the bar.

                4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                1. re: 10foot5

                  Thanks for the update! So, clarifying: you can eat at the bar?

                  (I actually love eating at bars, because I like watching cocktails being made more than I like drinking them -- I know, I'm weird -- though if their G&T is the same as Pizzaiolo's then that would be an exception to my rule. Quieter than the main room is another plus for eating @ bar.)

                  5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                  1. re: indigirl

                    So, we went last night around 7:30, stood around the bar waiting for seats to open up for maybe 20 min. or less, not bad at all for a Friday night. We had the manila clam pizza, which was unexpectedly spicy but very good. Little gem salad, perfectly dressed. Local halibut crudo w/ avocado, lime, cilantro, sort of ceviche on a plate: excellent! Plus the always-stellar G&T. Totally happy!

                  2. This place is good and all, for sure, and has the Chez Panisse pedigree. But I don't think it is AS good as Pizzaiolo, and also didn't think it was as good as Marzano over on Park. Marzano also has great cocktails, a similar menu, a wood oven they brought over from the old country, and is considerably less expensive than Boot & Shoe.

                    5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                    Chez Panisse
                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                    4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602

                    1 Reply
                    1. I went Friday night. The wait wasn't too bad. But my verdict will be go to Pizzaiolo (same but expanded menu) unless you live in this neighborhood. And the special cocktails were very underwhelming.

                      5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lucymom

                        Which cocktails did you have? I really enjoyed the Smoking Lilies, and another one I can't remember the name of, that had a blood orange base. I do think their gin and tonic is less consistent than Pizzaiolo's - most of the time, there's more lime than I'd like.

                        5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                      2. Went to Boot and Shoe Service for the first time last night , (really, late afternoon, as the sun was still high in the sky at 4:45 and they open at 5)., as I was hungry and in search of a a great cocktail. This place is terrific! We sat at the bar in the back and enjoyed halibut crudo, a little gem salad, a fritto plate and a simple margarita pizza -- all delicious! Great cocktails, too, and I thought I did not like gin. . .

                        We left not feeling too full, but will save room for a dessert and coffee for next time. Nice attentive staff, with good sense of humor. Yay! Great stuff!

                        What not to like?

                        Boot and Shoe Service
                        3308 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EileenPearl

                          Yeah, we too keep trying to save room for cannoli, but have yet to succeed. . .one of these years. Last time our plan was submarined by the great claim pizza with aioli & arugula.

                        2. Finally got to this place. Every time I've tried before it was too packed and way too loud. Last night around 9:30 there were a bunch of tables open and nice jazz playing softly. Unfortunately, as soon as we got our order in, they cranked up the music to levels that should be prohibited by OSHA.

                          Arugula & frisée with painted serpent cucumbers, mint & feta ($9) was really good. The mint made the dish.

                          Burrata di stefano with shaved porcini mushrooms & nepitella was kind of a small portion for $14 but I guess that's burrata for you. Delicious.

                          Buttermilk fried rabbit with succotash and chili oil ($18) was too small to share so we got a second one. Damn, I wish more places would serve fried rabbit. So good.

                          Olives and green beans were simple and perfect. Great food, too bad I'm never going back.

                          8 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Mrs. Rapini and I like this place. Although the place does get crowded, we've had good luck finding a seat at the bar in the rear, and ordering one of their well made cocktails and a pizza.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                why are you never going back? because the music was too loud?

                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                  Right. The music wasn't even bad, just way too loud.

                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Ditto! The food is really good but the last time we were there it was absolutely deafening with awful music -- just not worth the torture.

                                    1. re: luciemom

                                      It's been a few months, but we never found the music overly loud like Robert is describing, but with all the exposed brick, there's nothing to help dampen the acoustics.

                                      This makes the space naturally loud and people start raising their voices to be heard over the table next to them.

                                      1. re: drewskiSF

                                        The dining room was full when we arrived and conversation was no problem at all until they cranked up the music, at which point we had to raise our voices to hear each other.

                                        The place got no fuller and the bricks were no more exposed than before. If somebody hadn't turned up the music, there would have been no problem.

                                  1. Yep, I agree, this sound levels at this place are a workers comp suit waiting to happen. I saw a friend this weekend who lives in the neighborhood and eats here all the time. I asked if there was a time of day when the music was off or turned down. He said, "no, it's always like that, but it is better since the expansion."

                                    I've been there once with my mother in February 2012. We rushed over from San Francisco to get there before 2pm closing for lunch.

                                    We started with a tapenade crostini served with blood oranges, pale tender frisee and fat spears of asparagus. It was perfection.

                                    The rapini and homemade sausage pizza was wonderful too.

                                    The odd thing is that around 2:45p when various staff were stepping out for their break, the music was turned off and stayed off until we left ourselves. We had a few blissful moments. If I could figure out a way to make that happen again, I'd go back.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      I've heard that Charlie Hallowell (the chef-owner) is the one who likes to blast the music. Maybe he left for his break so the remaining staff were free to turn it down.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Makes sense that it's the boss or surely complaints from employees and/or customers would have some effect. Though I didn't expect that he spent that much time at Boot & Shoe. Guess we need to figure out his vacation schedule.

                                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                                        I like Boot and Shoe a lot, foodwise. Last year I had the best Italian (Florentine) tripe dish I've ever had there. That said, I agree it's too loud. I hadn't been for a while, mostly because I haven't been eating out as much, but a recent visit seemed even louder than the long term average. (I used to go once or twice a month).

                                        The food at Pizzaiolo is better on average, and it is somewhat quieter there, but also loud.

                                        1. re: twocents

                                          I went again a couple of times since the last post, and paid attention to the music- these last times the music was not quiet, but clearly not the dominant sound. The restaurant when full (almost always) is just really loud due to the brick and ceiling. In my recent dinner, the music was audible and contributory to the volume, but clearly it was primarily human voices forming the bulk of the sound.

                                          The new back patio, especially with the recent warm weather, was a great place to have drinks a conversation (no food served, not at all loud).

                                      3. Pizzas from Boot & Shoe are now available down the block at Ordinaire on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5:30-10.