High-tech bar, award-winning fare lift Boombozz Taphouse

White pizza at Boombozz Taphouse

LouisvilleHotBytes.com in The Voice-Tribune
(Published May 13, 2009)

The Highlands carry-out branch of Tony Boombozz Pizza on Bardstown Road – once the location of an urban White Castle still remembered fondly by Baby Boomers – has re-emerged after a major renovation as a splendid pizzeria and high-tech beer dispensary, the East End mini-chain’s fourth property and perhaps its most exciting yet.

Curved banks of silvery metal tubes soar over the bar to pipe down a selection of more than 20 draft beers, most imports and microbrewery beers. What’s more, the region’s only “ice bar” features artificially made “snow” blanketing a strip at the back. Want your beer ice cold? Set your mug on the icy white line.

Four bottles of booze – J├Ągermeister, vodka and such – are nestled in basketball-size snowballs, ensuring that one’s tipple comes out toothache-cold. Beer geeks who demand their brew at moderate cellar temperature might be appalled, but if you like your Lite on ice, you’ll find this deep-freez treatment welcome.

Pull your gaze away from those eye-catching beer pipes and all-season snow, and you’ll see decor that befits a Highlands bistro. Walls are the color of fresh buffalo mozzarella; exposed red brick rises behind the bar. Framed old black-and-white photos, many of Highlands scenes, add a nostalgic touch. And for the attention-deficit deprived, a dozen big-screen TVs surround the room.

The menu is extensive but typical Boombozz: Eight starters range from $4.99 (for homemade boomboom chips with spicy diablo sauce) to $7.99 (for Highland wings with Buffalo or barbecue sauce). Six salads mostly come in full ($5.99) or side ($2.99) sizes.

Seven oven-baked sandwiches on Italian roll (including meatball Parmigiana, the meatful “Italian Job” and a veggie sandwich) are mostly $6.99; the “metro” steak and cheese or chicken prosciutto sandies are $7.99.

Pasta options are ziti chicken alfredo or three-cheese penne, $9.99 and $7.99 respectively. Many among the extensive pizza selection have won awards in national and international competition; build your own or choose among the Boombozz favorites.

We couldn’t look at all that beer without calling for a pair of pints: Hoegaarden Belgian white beer ($4.99) and an American wheat beer, Widmer Hefeweizen from Oregon ($4.75), were both hazy and wheat-flavored, as you’d expect of this style. The Belgian beer boasted a characteristic clove scent; the Oregon model, not so much. There’s also a short, affordable wine list, but beer’s the beverage for me at Boombozz.

In apparent homage to the historic White Castle that once stood here, a popular appetizer is meatball “sliders,” ($5.99) three mini-meatball sands made with a tongue-in-cheek resemblance to you-know-what. Three small foccacia-type buns are each equipped with a dense, beefy meatball blanketed with molten Italian cheese and sauced with thick, tangy marinara. The warm, golden buns gain a bit of crunch from a sprinkle of salt and fine-chopped herbs.

Side salads are fairly portioned for the price. A small Caesar ($2.99) consisted of crisp romaine squares with a creamy, tangy Caesar sauce; it’s topped with very crisp toasted croutons. A small field-greens salad ($2.99) was a standard mesclun salad mix topped with diced tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, sliced red onions and crisp croutons. It’s dressed with plenty of sweet balsamic vinaigrette.

The “white pizza” (pictured above), a Neapolitan thin-crust type, was thin-crusted indeed. I’d guess the bread portion stands no more than 1/16 to 1/8 inch. The Boombozz blend of mozzarella, goat cheese, Fontina and Romano cheeses is a bit more earthy and tangy than the ricotta-topped New York City white pie, but I like it. Garlic olive oil adds a sheen and a touch of flavor, and finely sliced fresh basil leaves bring this one around to glory.

Dinner for two came to just $34.66, including the beers, which is a pretty good deal for a trendy spot on Bardstown Road; and careful, attentive service scored a $10 tip.

Boombozz Taphouse
1448 Bardstown Road