I love New Orleans and it seems to come up a fair amount here on MidtownLunch.com. My wife and I were married there, I’ve written about it a few times, and 3 of our Profiled: Midtown Lunch’ers mentioned it as a place they’d rather be (Liz, Elizabeth and Nick). But for some reason, it didn’t sink in- until recently- that Two Boots was part Cajun. That’s right. The NY pizza chain with the strange decor and the weird, slightly overpriced slices of pie is actually half Italian, half Cajun… hence “Two Boots” (Italy & Louisiana).
Now, I’m sure some of you “smart” “observant” people, who don’t walk around with your “head up your ass” might be saying to yourself- “Gee Zach… what are you an idiot?” And to that I say, “Yes. Yes I am.” Alright, so I’m not that quick. I’ve gotten pizza from many of the various Two Boots locations around the city, and in all that time I never really noticed the Po’Boys or Jambalaya on the menu painted on the wall… just the pizzas in the glass case.
I’m not sure who clued me into the whole “Two Boots” thing, or the fact that they have things other than pizza… but as someone who is constantly on the lookout for quality New Orleans style food, I figured it was time to give the non pizza boot a try.
What I ordered, a run down of the pizzas and the +/- after the jump…
I had read alot of negative things about the po’boys at Two Boots, so my expectations were pretty low. I ordered the Central Grocery Po’Boy- described as a sandwich with sopressata, tasso, and provolone. It’s named after the famous Central Grocery in the French Quarter of New Orleans which serves up Muffuletta’s- a famous Italian sandwich that got it’s start in the Big Easy. The original is served with provolone, Genoa Salami and Cappicola Ham- topped with an olive salad, made fresh on premises. (It’s so good, they sell jars of it in the store) It’s all served on this round Italian bread, and can be ordered as a half or whole. My friend Nick P. passed along these pics from the Central Grocery in New Orleans taken over Thanksgiving weekend:
The “half” sandwich above, is actually alot bigger than it appears in the pic. It’s pretty tough to finish by yourself. I know it’s unfair to compare… but here’s the “Central Grocery Po’Boy” from Two Boots:
Now the bread thing is understandable. I didn’t expect Two Boots, a Manhattan Pizza chain, to have the round Italian bread they have at the Central Grocery. But there is one omission that is unforgivable. No olive salad!!! What’s the point of calling it a Central Grocery Po’Boy if there is no olive salad???? It’s the whole point of the sandwich! And without the olive salad, it’s just an Italian sub… and at $8.50 there are millions of other places to get Italian subs that were better than this. Terrible. Very very disappointing. (Here’s what an Olive salad topped Muffuletta should look like:)
So the short of it is, ignore the Po’Boys. I’ve heard the Jambalaya is pretty good (and super spicy) but I think I’m going to just stick with the Pizza- which is real good if you like alot of different stuff on your pie. When I first started eating at Two Boots, I thought it was expensive… but after a year of lunch in Midtown it seems pretty reasonable (that is so sad).
A slice of cheese is $2.50, white pizza is $2.75, and most of the specialty slices are $3.50-$3.75. Choose between a whole host of slices, each named after a celebrity. I’m partial to the Mr. Pink (Chicken, Tomatoes, Garlic & Mozzarella), the Mel Cooley (Sun Dried Tomatoes, Basil Pesto and Roasted Peppers on a White Pie) or the Bayou Beast (BBQ Shrimp, Crawfish, Andoille, Jalapenos and Mozzarealla). The last one is so you can still feel a little piece of New Orleans without ordering the crappy po’boy!
The red sauce they use is pretty sweet (and not Dude Where’s My Car “Sweet”, I mean sugary sweet)- so if you’re not into that, I would try one of the white pies (like the Mel Cooley). They’ve got large circles of Ricotta dotting the pie that are pretty sweet (those are sweet in the Dude, Where’s My Car sort of way). The pesto is real good too. All in all, if you’ve never been to Two Boots, it’s worth it for the pizza (especially if you’re looking for something different in the pie by the slice variety). They have locations all over Manhattan, and two them are in Midtown. (Just do your best to ignore the Louisiana boot or you may end up disappointed…)
- The pizza is good, if you are looking for something different than your standard New York Pizza
- The white pie is delicious… and not too expensive at $2.75 a slice. (You may say the “secret” ingredient is giant dollops of ricotta)
- The price. It’s comparable to most food in Midtown… but if you are still averse to paying more than $2 for a slice of pizza (especially one that is not authentic NYC style pizza), than stay away.
- The non-Italian boot. Thinking about the “Central Grocery Po’Boy” they serve is all I need to keep me sticking to the pizza at this place…
Two Boots, Locations all over Manhattan
- Rockefeller Center, Lower Dining Concourse 212-332-8800
- Grand Central, Lower Dining Concourse 212-557-7992