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Dec 16, 2009 07:31 PM

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!