Area Four

By Emily Nichols · 11/26/2016    Cambridge · American · Pizza · $$

Area Four has its hooks in us.

Why? The wood-fired pizzas are mottled with polka dots of blistery char. It blessed Boston with the cinnamon-roll-sized Garlic Knot. The Cambridge outpost serves up cortados and sticky buns by day in the heady company of MIT wunderkinds. The South End spot offers stellar draft cocktails at a sprawling bar with touches of ‘90s nostalgia. And of all the places he could have lunched while visiting Boston, President Obama chose Area Four. We could go on, but you get the drift—Area Four is crushing it.

Garilc knots from Area Four

Area Four’s industrial spaces are anchored by wood-burning ovens at the center of its open kitchens. The sleek, sharp angles of its bars and dining rooms set off the fire’s elemental allure. That hip/homey mix makes either spot an equally appealing destination for a night out with friends or for charming a new prospect.

Menus offer both Pizza and “Not Pizza.” We recommend exploring both. But before you do, you’ll need a drink. Beer and wine lists are well-appointed, with a strong emphasis on local brews. On Cambridge’s cocktail menu you can pay homage to Area Four’s Somerville outpost, A4 Pizza—which sadly burned down in 2015—by imbibing the “A4 Electrical Fire” (mezcal, hot honey, Aperol, and lime). In the South End, sip on a Malibu Beach Barbie, a made-over Sex on the Beach served in a sand bucket alongside a cheekily-grinning Barbie doll.

Malibu beach barbie cocktail from Area Four

With those aforementioned knots and fried cubes of orange cheddar drizzled in hot honey singing their siren song, there’s a genuine risk of filling up before the main affair. Don’t let that happen. There’s a reason “I feel like I’m cheating on NY pizza” is scrawled on Cambridge’s ladies’ room stall: Chef Jeff Pond’s dough, coaxed to perfection by a sourdough starter he’s nurtured for 12-plus years. Upon that canvas, Pond designs pies to showcase house-made ingredients (fennel sausage and hand-pulled mozzarella) and celebrate New England’s bounty (think Clam & Bacon). On every visit we vow to try something new—but as of this writing we’ve yet to go and not order the A4 Sausage & Banana Peppers pizza. Perhaps next time. You can trust that there’ll be many more of those.

Pizza from Area Four

If you’re a fan of imbibing while playing Simon in front of the bar’s staticky vintage TVs, you’ll probably like A4cade, a throwback arcade opened in 2017 through a collaboration between Area Four’s Michael Krupp and James DiSabatino of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese.

Put an egg on it. Well two, to be precise—for $3.50 on any pie. Yolk porn: It’s not just for brunch anymore.

Area Four does brunch, too. Go when it’s warm and sit on the sidewalk patio to drink in fresh air alongside your Bloody Bivalve (the house Bloody Mary).

Must Haves

  • If we haven’t dropped enough hints about the knots yet, here’s a less subtle one: Get them. Ask for extra red sauce; your crusts are calling.

  • Area Four exercises no restraint with this one (soppressata, sausage, and bacon), which is apropos because you’ll follow suit when it arrives at the table.

  • Garlicky, smoky, herbal, and just a touch briny: Exactly what this New England classic should be.

Fun Fact

The name is a nod to the restaurant’s location. Of Cambridge’s thirteen neighborhoods, “Area 4” is the only one to lack an official name. We’d say that Chef Pond is doing his part to put it on the map.

Tastes of Area Four

So good we can't stop writing about it. Read more about Area Four!

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