It may be surprising to those who know me that a pizza restaurant would be one of my favorite places in Cambridge. After all, isn't pizza associated with unhealthy things like carb-filled crusts, high fat gooey cheeses, and very little vegetables?
Interestingly, what drew me most to Area Four (initially) was actually not their pizzas (even though they are also great). It was their salads.
I love Area Four's salads.
City Grower's Mixed Greens
They are chock full of of farm fresh vegetables, perfectly dressed, and just taste really good and healthy. Everything from their simple Shaved Brussels sprouts salad in the winter to their current summer "City Grower's Mixed Greens" is thoughtfully designed and well executed. The menu changes constantly, reflecting the seasons.
I guess it's no surprise, considering that chef-owner Michael Leviton is a huge proponent of local and sustainable produce. In fact, he was recently appointed the chair of Chefs Collaborative, a national nonprofit network of chefs committed to local foods and fostering a sustainable food supply.
A few weeks ago Area Four invited me to come and try their new summer menu. They recently revamped their menu to make it a bit simpler and more focused. The menu now just consists of two sections: "Pizza" and "Not Pizza".
"Not Pizza" includes their excellent salads as well as appetizers (e.g., mac & cheese or Thai squid salad) and even a roasted half chicken ($20). For the first time I tried their "Garlic Knots", soft, focaccia-like bread literally tied into knots and baked. These cheese dusted pillows were delicious, and all too dangerously addictive.
"Pizza", of course, refers to the different types of pizzas available. Although there are some longstanding favorites that will always remain on the menu (like the Sausage and Banana Pepper or the Clam and Bacon pizza), there are always seasonal offerings as well.
Their wood-fired pizza is excellent and one of my favorites in the city (along with Emma's, my other favorite in Cambridge). Chef Mike Leviton (of Lumiere) and co-founder Michael Krupp did a ton of research before settling on this crust which is super thin like a New Haven style pizza but has the puffy edge like the classic Neapolitan-style pizza. The crust is actually a sourdough crust, made from a 12 year old starter which is fermented for three days. The sourdough crust is a bit chewier than New Haven style and is pretty mild in flavor (not too sour at all).
I love the seasonal, farm fresh focus, like this fun spring-themed pizza, which included a green pesto, fresh arugula, pickled red onions, and lots of English peas. It's like having one of their delicious salads right on top of the pizza.
They have a pretty decent beer selection, including many local craft beers. One of my favorites: Night Shift Brewing Company's (located in Everett, MA!) Viva Habanera, a ryle ale brewed with aged habanero peppers.
Desserts are simple but good. They make their own soft serve, and serve it with a bunch of different fun toppings. You can also order excellent coffee from the attached bakery cafe, made with beans from Barrington Roasters (one of my favorites!). I like to order to cortado every time I go as a way to finish off my meal.
Area Four is often my go-to place to visit with friends for a number of reasons.
1) The food is great and can be quite healthy (depending on what you order)
2) It's fun to try more pizzas with a group
3) The prices are reasonable
4) There's parking (if not on the street there is a lot nearby) and
5) I love being able to pick up a fantastic espresso-based drink on my way out the restaurant
Area Four recently opened its second location, called A4 Pizza, in Union Square in Somerville as well as a food truck. The Somerville location is where some of the newest recipe ideas are first tested before they are rolled out in the Cambridge location. So if you want to try their more experimental pizzas, definitely check out the Somerville location!
I've yet to visit either one since the Cambridge one is so convenient for me, but hopefully someday if I'm in Somerville I'll stop by.
500 Technology Square
Cambridge, MA 02139
Disclaimer: this meal was paid for by Area Four. All opinions are my own.
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