"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," says daveena. It's called Boot and Shoe Service and there are a few shortcomings and inconsistencies, but it sounds like things are coming along nicely in these early days.
The menu is a lot like Pizzaiolo's, minus the fresh pastas. Appetizers get the meal off to an excellent start: super-fresh sardines with beets, spicy cumin carrots and yogurt, "and a perfectly fried fritto misto of cauliflower, red onion, Meyer lemon, and delicata squash."
Char fanatics might be a little disappointed with the pizzas, whose crusts are less blistered/charred than those at Pizzaiolo. Still, "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 [where this is a local specialty] had to admit it was better than any clam pizza he'd had there," says daveena.
But the squid pizza doesn't live up to the Pizzaiolo version, with oversalted, less-fresh squid. "The beauty of this dish at Pizzaiolo is the seamless transition between aioli, squid, and crust," and Boot and Shoe Service's isn't quite there. Foodnut8 had a mixed experience with the pizza 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, Foodnut8 says.
But drink enough of the superb cocktails (they have Pizzaiolo's outstanding house-made tonic, plus a larger and more attractive bar space) and these shortcomings will probably go entirely unnoticed.
Boot and Shoe Service [East Bay]
3308 Grand Avenue, Oakland
Pizzaiolo [East Bay]
5008 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland