Who better to talk pizza with on this momentous occasion than Chef and Co-Owner of Area Four and A4 Pizza, Jeff Pond? While Jeff and his team were busy firing up pizzas, I had the chance to fire off a few questions on his love of 'za.
What is your first memory of tasting really killer pizza?
Jeff: The first really good pizza I ever had was at a place called Pizza Time in Bridgeport, CT. It was down the street from my house, and I was probably nine or ten, maybe eight years old. It wasn't anything crazy in terms of today's standards, but there was nice cheese, a good sauce and the chef/owner made his dough in-house.
There are a lot of pizza shops and restaurants in Boston. What makes the Area Four and A4 pies special?
Jeff: The dough, the oven and the length of time we choose to cook our pizzas at. The Neopolitan pizza - the 90 second cook - remains really trendy, but we're not trying to do that. We do a nice, artisanal pie with a three and a half to four minute back time.
In your opinion, what is the most underrated pizza topping?
Jeff: Soppressata instead of pepperoni. It might not be underrated, but it is sometimes unknown.
After talking with Jeff, I knew I finally had to make my way to A4 Pizza in Somerville. I've been a long time customer of the Area Four location in Kendall Square, but I hadn't been able to visit its sibling.
A4 Pizza is located just outside of Union Square, right across the street from Market Basket.
We waited about 15 minutes before seats opened at the bar and then grabbed three stools. A very friendly bartender delivered us menus. The A4 menu has two sections, each with a simple header, "Pizza" and "Not Pizza."
Before ordering any pies, we started with drinks. Wine and beer for the girls and Bantam cider for me. If you haven't had Bantam cider it's super delicious and it's made right here in Somerville! In fact, the bartender informed me that Bantam has a tasting room. Apparently it's right near the Target in Union Square. Adding that to my list!
With drinks in hand, we ordered up two appetizers to share, starting with the roasted cauliflower. For some reason, perhaps because it came served an iron skillet, I presumed the cauliflower would be hot. It was actually served room temperature, which was a surprise.
I love cauliflower and this was definitely an interesting take. Almost like rolling your cauliflower through pizza sauce.
Next up, the mixed greens topped with shaved pecorino. This was a great first round dish because it was tasty without being too filling. You have to leave room for the main event.
For pizza, we shared two pies, starting with the classic margherita. Though made from simple ingredients, it was fantastic. The crust is the ideal ratio of crispy to chewy and dotted with those delicious bubbles created through the cooking process. The sauce was flavorful and a nice compliment to the creamy mozzarella.
We were tempted to devour this entire pie, but resisted and took it home.
We also sampled the shiitake mushroom pizza.
This pie is topped with mushroom sauce, fontina, gremolata and Baffoni Farm eggs. I don't know about you, but I absolutely love egg on pizza.
With this particular pizza, the crust was really just a vehicle for consuming all the incredible goodies! The mushroom and the egg were such a rich, harmonious pairing.
As you all know, I am a huge dessert person. Sadly, A4 only offers a dessert special on the weekend. That dish is a unique collaboration with their neighbor around the corner, Union Square Donuts.
There are still 11 days left to celebrate National Pizza Month at A4 Pizza or Area Four. Trust me, you need to experience that margherita pizza!
Tell me, what's your favorite pie?