It’s safe to say the word is out: The Wylder is Boise’s most happening restaurant. On a wintery Friday night, when most of downtown had settled in against the cold, The Wylder was filled to capacity—with more than an hour-long wait. The host staff seated our party in the lounge area in the back of the restaurant. With a low coffee table, comfortable leather sofa and modern armchairs, it felt like walking into a friend’s living room; however, my friends don’t make food this good.
The Wylder opened on Oct. 19 in The Fowler, a mixed-use apartment building in Central Addition, Boise’s newest neighborhood. The concept is craft pizza and cocktails. With five styles of red pizza and five types of white, pies are not the only reason this restaurant is always buzzing. There’s a kale Caesar salad that has spawned regulars, as well as a cauliflower dish that makes even the most carnivorous diners ponder plant-based diets.
Lizzy and David Rex opened The Wylder just five months after moving to Boise. The Arizona natives were living in Santa Monica, Calif., and working in restaurant operations. They spent time visiting friends in the Treasure Valley, watching the city grow, and they realized that the fast-paced life they were living lacked the sense of community that they saw in Boise.
“It’s important to be part of a community. That’s how you run your business. We’re big believers in being surrounded by great neighborhoods,” Lizzy Rex said.
As they talked about moving, they called construction companies in Boise to price out their own restaurant concept. When they called Mike Brown with Local Construct, the builder of The Fowler, he said he had just the space. For the next year, they tested more than 15 pizza dough recipes and designed the modern-farmhouse-style restaurant with Portland-based architects.
In May 2017, with their 2-year-old son and 50-year-old sourdough starter in tow, they moved to Boise and worked full time to open The Wylder. The Rexes have opened eight restaurants during their careers, so when it came time to open their own, they knew what they wanted. At each step in the process, they asked, “What would we want to eat? Where would we want to go?”
“It should just feel good to come eat here. It’s our only goal. We just want people to be happy, whatever the occasion,” David Rex said.
They based the menu on their favorite foods, avoiding the constraint of a truly Italian restaurant, and designed the interior with an open-concept home in mind. With multiple gathering spaces, guests can experience different dining styles at each one. The cocktail bar and pizza bar allow diners to view the bartenders and chefs at work, while the booths make for more intimate experiences. The lounge area also allows big groups to gather in an organic way, like they would at home. A wooden cloud, as the Rexes call it, spans the ceiling, doubling as an acoustic dampener and art installation.
The service is also intentional. The Rexes aim to hire the nicest people they can find and arm them with as much knowledge about the food as possible. Their training focuses on educational sessions about the menu items, from the dough to the dessert. Their experience in chef-driven restaurants instilled in them the importance of high-quality ingredients and learning the why behind the restaurant.
“We’re trying to be good neighbors, give people’s kids a safe place to work, a good place to come and eat,” David Rex said.
The Rexes added lunch service on Jan. 4, and while they have a one-shift-at-a-time philosophy, they’re already dreaming about their next concept in the Boise restaurant community.