Tag Archives: pizza

Area Four, Kendall Sq – Revisited

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Where: Area Four – 500 Technology Square Cambridge, MA 02139
When: July, 2012

Its really not easy working right across the street from Area Four. Its constantly calling my name tempting me to come over for lunch and, more often then not, cocktails. Like I need that extra temptation…

I’ve been to Area Four many times but this particular trip was worthy of another post. This is the first time I had been this summer so we were able to snag a table outside on the patio. I tried the Sparkling Malbec which was really lovely, especially on a warm summer day. It was much like a Rose – light, refreshing and not too sweet. After cocktails we started with their famous Garlic Knots which are smothered in garlic, pecorino and gremolata. These are amazing and worth all the calories – I promise.

For pizzas I decided to split one of the specials, on the bottom, with a friend but as soon as I saw the Mushroom and Fontina pizza come out for our other friend I knew I had to get in on that.  I ended up abandoning my pizza and eating half of hers as it was just that good. Thank goodness for generous friends. Typically I am not a huge fan on fontina but it just went so well with the mushrooms. The saltiness of the pecorino on top was perfectly balanced with the gremolata, which I am turning into a huge fan of. I think I have been back to Area Four for the Mushroom Fontina pizza twice since this trip. Do it.

20120707-151238.jpgGarlic Knots

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The Mushroom Fontina pizza is on the top and one of the specials is on the bottom (sorry, what is is has escaped me as my mind went blank after trying the Mushroom Fontina one!)

If you are in the area, try to make it to Area our for some of their homemade ice cream that they pop up on the sidewalk. I recently had the Peanut Butter and it was pure heaven. Oh, and don’t even get me started on their croissants! My heart and brain are grateful to Area Four but my waistline… not so much.

How did Area Four measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Area Four on Urbanspoon

Otto Pizza, Harvard Sq

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Where: Otto Pizza – 1432 Mass Ave. Cambridge MA 02139
When: May, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I signed up with Boston Cares, a volunteer organization here in Boston. The day after I did my orientation I was so eager to pick up an opportunity that I signed up for a Books for Prisoners program in Quincy. I spent the evening reading through letters from prisoners and helping choose books for them based on what their interests and requests were. All were polite and friendly, a few heartbreaking. I didn’t finish up until about 9pm so by the time I got back to Harvard Sq it was almost 10 and I was starving.

Pizza isn’t my usual go-to quick and easy meal but it was a chilly rainy night and that’s just what was on my mind.

I got two slices from Otto Pizza thinking, foolishly, that I would eat one and save the other for work the next day. Instead, I inhaled them both the moment I got home.

The slice on the left is the Chicken, Mushroom and Fontina Pizza and the one on the right in the Chicken and Basil Pizza. Both were delicious, especially after having been out in the rain (as you can see the raindrops that I couldn’t protect my pizza from on the bag below) and so hungry, but the Chicken, Mushroom, and Fontina was just to die for. And here I thought I wasn’t a fan of Fontina… It was creamy and salty and just plain good. The Chicken Basil one was as well but there was something a little more indulgent about the one on the left.

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Overall, I’d definitely get pizza from Otto Pizza again. The place is tiny so I wouldn’t t recommend going their to eat in but they were friendly and quick quick a few slices to go and their slices were mighty tasty.

How would Otto Pizza measure up? 4 Spoons!

Otto Pizza on Urbanspoon

Emma’s Pizza, Kendall Sq

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Where: Emma’s -40 Hampshire Street Cambridge, MA 02139
When: April, 2012

Happy Pizza Week!

I’ve been to, and enjoyed, Emma’s quite a few times so was excited to go back and get to write about it. I had plans to go to the Kendall Square Cinema to see Bully beforehand which was great as that gave us plenty to discuss at dinner, not like we need more topics. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend Bully. Its a great documentary about bullying although I need to warn you that it will make you mad. Some kids, and adults I may add, are just damn mean. Be kind, people. Be kind.

Ok, I’ll leave the movie reviews to the movie critics and stick to food.

We got to Emma’s Pizza around 8:30 on a Saturday so expected the worst – a wait. Surprisingly, we only had to wait a few minutes before being seated. Lucky us! I love the atmosphere at Emma’s – its small and cozy, bustling but not loud or crowded. We had a groupon to use but, surprisingly, couldn’t order enough to make it worthwhile to use so we decided to save it for another visit. We got the large Artichoke Hearts, Garlic, House Roasted Tomatoes, Rosemary Sauce, Light Mozzarella, and Ricotta Pizza with the intention of taking some of it home. That, of course, did not happen. I don’t eat a ton of pizza so wouldn’t consider myself anywhere near a connoisseur but have to say I really like the rosemary sauce on this pizza. All the toppings worked really well together as well. As far as pizzas go, its a good one.

Overall, I think Emma’s is such a sweet little place perfect for a date or a night out with friends. The pizza is very good and service serious and swift. I’ll definitely be going back and would love to try one of their salads or something a bit lighter as I always tend to overeat and roll out of there thinking I can’t possibly eat again.

How did Emma’s measure up? 4 Spoons!

Emma's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Area Four, Tech Sq

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Where: Area Four – 500 Technology Square Cambridge, MA 02139
When: March, 2012

Last week our field staff were in town for a two day training so I was put in charge of choosing where our large group would be eating dinner – no idea why they picked me as I can’t stand thinking about food.

The natural first choice was Area Four which is steps from our new office space in Tech Sq. I had been there before in my pre-blogging days so was excited to be able to review it this time. We sat at the same large table in the back which is a great spot to to see everything going on from the kitchen to the outside courtyard. The restaurant has a very casual but modern feel with high ceilings and a lot of stainless steel. Even with so much space and metal they manage to make it feel comfortable and personal with their layout and details.

I was nominated to order red for the table so got us a litre of the Guintrandy Rhone Blend which went down like water after a day of meetings and trainings (read: it was good). We then got a couple orders of the Garlic Knots with pecorino & gremolata to share (per Daniela’s strong recommendation). I wish this photo did the knots justice but I couldn’t get a good photo and refused to keep trying as it was catching my boss’ attention who was starting to think it was a little strange that I was photographing our food. These little orbs were soft, chewy puffs of garlicky heaven. They were smothered in garlic so I encouraged everyone at the table to try them as not to isolate any one person who would quickly feel like the only vampire at the table otherwise.

20120314-203802.jpgAs the server went around the table taking orders everyone was trying to match up pizzas to share. Shockingly, no one wanted to share my Wellfleet Cherrystone Clam & Bacon pizza which came with clam sauce, pecorino, hot pepper, and parsley. Everyone seemed a little disturbed by the thought of clams on pizza but after having the memorable pizza with mussels at Trade I was up for it. The pizza was good! Not to sound surprised but everything worked really well together. It was fairly salty between the bacon, clams and cheese but the hot pepper, which wasn’t overly hot, cut through the saltiness and the parsley added a layer of freshness. The dough was also very good – a thin crust with puffy soft pockets. It made me want to order a side of ranch or something fatty to dip it in to but then I reminded myself that I just ate an entire pizza by myself.

The clam pizza is the one on top of the rack in this photo. The one below is the Puttanesca which has green olives, capers, anchovies, tomatoes, hot peppers, mozzarella, pecorino and parsley. I almost got this one as I love anchovies but I’m still working on loving olives so I held off. A little bit of food history for you – did you know that Puttanesca means “in the style of a prostitute” in Italian? Apparently way back in the day (what day, don’t ask) in Italy the wives complained that they didn’t want the prostitutes shopping in their markets so the prostitutes were only allowed one set afternoon a week to shop for all their food. Because of this they stocked up on nonperishable canned items like anchovies and olives that would keep longer. The prostitutes created a pasta dish with all these items and it was dubbed Pasta Puttanesca (Prostitute’s Pasta). Good for them for creating a dish that has become so popular.

Overall, the service was great and I love the atmosphere. They know how to take care of a big group although I am sure it would be a great place to go to with a smaller group as well. The food was all above par, I’d definitely go back and likely will. Often.

How did Area Four measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Area Four on Urbanspoon

Picco, South End

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Where: Picco – 513 Tremont Street Boston, MA 02116
When: March, 2012

For the lovely Libby’s birthday celebration a group of 9 of us went to Picco in the South End to celebrate. It was a great mix of friends and family, all from different parts of her life. It was nice to put some faces to the names and stories I had heard and what better occasion to break bread together.20120309-093107.jpg

We had to wait a little while to sit as one of our 4 tables wasn’t quite ready when we got there. I can’t complain, I am grateful they just took our reservation as a lot of places in the South End don’t seem to. We quickly were greeted and ordered a few bottles of wine, some salads, and pizzas – one of their two specialties (just wait until you hear about the ice cream). Libby and I shared the Arugula salad which came with Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon juice & olive oil. It was so simple that I wasn’t sure what to expect but it really didn’t need anything else. It was light, fresh, salty, peppery and just right to make the pizza I was about to eat not feel quite so indulgent.

For the pizza, we also split the large Margherita which came with tomato sauce & fresh mozzarella. Libby asked for the pizza lightly done as Picco cooks their pizzas very well. I wouldn’t have known and wouldn’t have thought to ask for it this way but am glad Libby did as the way we received it was just how I like it. The other pizzas were definitely more cooked with some charred bits on the crust and toppings, almost looking burnt. The crust was really nice – it was thin but not hard / super crisp like a lot of thin crust pizzas. It had nice bubbles of spongy soft crust as well. All the pizzas looked really good and I’m already plotting to to get back there to try the Alsatian which comes with sautéed onions, shallots, garlic, crème fraiche, bacon & gruyere.  Yum. Everyone enjoyed their pizzas although I did hear Anne say she wished that she hadn’t substituted the meat on her pizza for chicken (I think it came with pork). She said she couldn’t really complain though as it was her choice to substitute it. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

One of my favorite pizza related anecdotes from the night was that when Libby got home and opened up a gift bag I had given her to find a couple of pizza crusts in there. I wish I could have taken credit for that but we think they must have fallen off the table when we had to move it to let someone out for a bathroom break. What a great late night treat though!

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I had more pizza that I should have, totaling about 4 large slices so I had a serious dilemma when everyone decided to order ice cream, Picco’s other specialty, for dessert. I decided I would get some, then at the last minute decided not to, then got talked back into it. I got a small serving of the Peanut Butter Chip homemade ice cream that was really, really good. I also tried some of Libby’s Cinnamon ice cream which I liked much more than I expected. It was definitely cinnamony but  not overwhelming so. I also had a bite of Mik’s Caramel Swirl which was good but a little too sweet for my taste (I can’t believe I just said that). I have never been a big ice cream person, always choosing the vanilla, but these were all pretty special – I’d definitely get the PB Chip or Cinnamon again. I had to push mine away from me and down the table to stop eating it.

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Overall, I really liked Picco. I thought they had a great atmosphere where it was lively and fun but you weren’t yelling to be heard. The food was great, I loved everything I got. The service was fantastic and very attentive right until the end when we sat, table cleared and glasses empty, waiting for someone to bring us the bill for what seemed like forever, maybe 10 minutes? I’d definitely go back and would recommend it for a group, one on one, a date, pretty much any occasion.

How did Picco measure up? 4.25 Spoons!

Picco on Urbanspoon

Barbecue Chicken Pizza, Recipe

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The first few times I had Barbecue Chicken Pizza it was without the chicken as I was vegetarian at the time. Kinda weird, right? The pizza was still delicious with the combined smoky and cheesy flavors so I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I had never thought to omit the meat in a meat-focused dish so was grateful that Daniela had introduced me to it. She also introduced me to the McDonald’s cheeseburger minus the meat which may sound a bit funny but when on a road trip and you have limited options that bun with ketchup, pickles, and onions is pretty damn good.

I had leftover barbecue sauce from some pulled pork I had made so what better excuse to whip up a barbecue chicken pizza. This recipe was great, just as good as I’ve had from any take out restaurant (and you can control your own cheese so you don’t feel guilty for days!). You could also cut down the time considerably by buying store bought crust, barbecue sauce, and even cooked chicken from the prepared food section of your grocery store. But what fun would that be?

This pizza was also great for lunch the next day. And day after.

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Adapted from Cooking during Stolen Moments

For the crust:
2 t. yeast
2 t. sugar
1 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. olive oil
1 t. salt
4 – 4 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1. Let yeast and sugar dissolve in warm water in a large mixing bowl for about 5 minutes. Add olive oil, salt and optional Italian seasoning. Slowly add the flour until completely combined and dough is no longer sticky. (I used just over 4 cups of flour to get to that point.) Knead for 5 minutes, place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour.
*Depending on how thin you like your crust, this makes enough for 2 large pizzas plus 2 small pizzas. The extra dough can be frozen.

For the barbecue sauce:
1 1/2 c. ketchup
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. each – allspice, crushed red pepper flakes, pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder
Add everything to a small bowl and stir until combined. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using to allow the flavors to blend.

For the toppings:
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
1/2 lb. bacon, diced and crisped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 c. frozen corn, thawed
2 c. shredded pizza blend cheese

To assemble the pizzas:
1. Roll out dough into desired sizes on thickness. Place on a baking sheet or stone dusted with cornmeal.
2. Spread barbecue sauce on top of the crust, leaving about 1/2 inch crust all the way around.
3. Top with chicken, any other desired toppings and cheese. Bake at 500 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Gran Gusto, Huron Village

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Where: Gran Gusto – 90 Sherman Street Cambridge, MA 02140
When: September, 2011

I first heard about Gran Gusto the day I moved into my apartment in 2010 after going to Paddy’s Lunch to find out that Paddy’s Lunch didn’t serve lunch. Interesting. The bartender recommended Gran Gusto down the road. It’s in an odd little spot in a strip mall-like building with Comcast a couple doors down and connected to a few offices. The décor can be a little cheesy in daylight (nighttime makes it more charming) but everything else was exceptional.

The waiter was charming and would only take my order if I tried it in Italian which got me to loosen up after a day of moving and lifting boxes. We all ordered pizzas and, boy, was that a good decision. My dad claimed it was the best pizza he has had in Boston (or was it the US?) and I had to do everything I could not to eat more than half so I could enjoy it as my first dinner in my new place as well. I got the Arugola Pizza, which I have had every time I have been back since. Tomato sauce, bufula mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, and parmigiano cheese. The dough is just the right amount of chewy, the prosciutto is salty, the arugula is peppery, the sauce is slightly sweet. Its like a taste explosion.

Did I mention it’s a couple blocks from my house?

Gotta go, my pizza is ready for pick up.

Figs, Beacon Hill

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Where: Figs – 42 Charles Street Boston, MA 02114
When: September, 2011

Libby and I went to Figs for dinner before a big karaoke night out in Allston. Pizza is always a good way to start off nights that you know will be long and involve boxed wine and whiskey.

Located on Charles Street, which I have grown to love, in Beacon Hill this place is teeny tiny and they really pack you in. The noise levels are on the higher side and there is barely any floor space to drop your bag but its all well worth it. Its snug, our waitress was friendly and boisterous and the thin crust pizza (the only way to have it in my opinion)was great.

We ordered a pizza with half Fig & Prosciutto (crisp rosemary crust with fig & balsamic jam, prosciutto & Gorgonzola cheese) and half Spicy Shrimp spicy (gulf shrimp with caramelized leeks & tomato sauce). I love the idea of being in love with figs but I realized that night that I am not sure I actually love figs. The pizza was great and I enjoyed it but I have to admit that Libby’s half looked much more appealing than mine. No worries, I am glad I have a good excuse to go back and try something new.

Our karaoke friends were very appreciative of leftover pizza a few hours later. Unless you want leftovers for a week, split a pie.

How did Figs measure up? 3.75 Spoons!