It’s no secret that The Jazz Kitchen (5377 N. College Ave., 253-4900) is an Indianapolis’ gem, attracting talent from around the world as well as serving as home for some of Indy’s finest musicians.
What might be a secret to some is that The Jazz Kitchen shares its kitchen with Bebop Pizza (705 E. 54th St., 253-1340), which has a low-key entrance just around the corner.
A recent trip found the crew taking care not only with their tossed-in-the-air dough but also with finding just the right amount of oven time for their 8-inch, 12-inch and 16-inch pies.
Single-topping pies ($6.95, $12.95, $15.45) are available for DIY minimalists, but Bebop also offers a complement of Specialty Pies more artfully crafted than those at most pizzerias. Specifically, I’m a fan of the State Fair ($7.95, $14.95, $17.95), where the thin-ish crust houses a smart balance of kicky Italian sausage crumbles, bell and banana peppers, and red onion. An “Us vs. the Kids” special knocks $5 off a 12” cheese pie if you also order a medium or large specialty. A nice duo for those with both adventurous and risk-averse folks to feed.
The only downside: These pies have their best flavor when hot, so a reheat at home might be required if you live more than a block or two away.
You can also order Lasagna ($5.95—although sold out by 6 p.m. on my most recent visit), Meatballs & Spaghetti ($4.50) and Pesto Chicken Asiago ($5.95). Supplements include Cheesy Pizza Stix ($4.95 with the option to replace the usual cheese or marina with creamy pesto dip).
I would be remiss, of course, if I didn’t remind you of the quality heading out of the kitchen in the other direction. A recent visit to The Jazz Kitchen, during a packed show, found service friendly and committed to not distracting from the action on stage.
With plenty of time before the show (experience has shown it’s best to arrive 45 minutes before the show), we started with a pair of subtle Homemade Crab Cakes ($12), served with creole mayo and cocktail sauce. Even better was the Walnut Crusted Salmon ($19), in which brown sugar and walnuts sweetly (but not too sweetly) coated an eight-ounce fillet of a former Atlantic Ocean resident.
I couldn’t resist Satchmo’s Etoufee ($14 with a $4 upgrade if you want to add a trio of shrimp), and its seemingly bottomless portion lasted most of the show. The White Chocolate Blueberry Bread Pudding ($6) with bourbon-infused caramel sauce almost caused us to direct our standing ovation toward the kitchen.
Want to sample without having to pay a cover charge? Try a Monday night, when some of Indy’s favorite players offer free sets.•
Second in a month-long series of theme-free restaurant reviews.