DINING: Sideman BeBop Pizza worthy of headliner The Jazz Kitchen

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.

ae-mainprint-jazzkitchen-8-1col.jpg Bebop Pizza offerings include the State Fair, with sausage and peppers. (IBJ Photo/ Eric Learned)

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.

ae-jazzkitchen-4-15col.jpg Walnut Crusted Salmon at The Jazz Kitchen makes a good show even better. (IBJ Photo/ Eric Learned)

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.•

—Lou Harry


Second in a month-long series of theme-free restaurant reviews.

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