October 12, 2010 Za Pizza
My friend Katie told me about this place, although she went to the one in Arlington (check out her website-she is a yoga instructor, and a massage therapist who specializes in zero balancing http://balancingbodywork.com/ or http://longevityyoga.com/). We always talk about food and she told me that there was this mac and cheese pizza that I just HAD to try. Say no more.
There are two locations, one in Arlington and one in Cambridge. The one in Cambridge is right next to EVOO (their new location)-Za is their sister restaurant. The area is home to the biotech companies during the day ( I bet Za gets a HUGE lunch crowd) but I didn’t think that there was much of a night scene here. A great advantage to the Cambridge location is that if you park in the garage around the corner, it would normally cost you $8, but with validation, it only cost $1!! And most of the 10″ pizzas are $7-$12 in price.
There’s a wide open kitchen (isn’t that all the rage these days), a bar with a flat screen tv, low booths and high top booths, plus a semi private room towards the back. We arrive at about 9pm and the place is hopping-a lot of big groups, families and young professionals.
We have a really nice waiter who is attentive and informative. We order the mac and cheese pizza (Katie got hers with chorizo-which after having it plain, sounds like it would have been a great addition to the pizza) and the Verrill Farm apple “chalkboard special” pizza. The menu is small-they only have salads and pizzas, but the ingredients are fresh and from local farms (also quite the rage these days and we love that!). They have things coming from Drumlin Farm, Kimball Farm, Verrill Farm…all my favorite places.
On to the important stuff. The mac and cheese pizza. 10″ pizza with elbow macaroni, caramelized onions, cream sauce, four cheeses, and toasted bread crumbs all for just $9.50. Carb lovers dream is all I have to say about that. I was worried that the pizza was going to be heavy, you know, sit in the bottom of your stomach heavy. I was really surprised how light it was, the crust was thin, airy had just enough crunch…and still managed to hold the weight of the mac and cheese. I’m pretty sure that this pizza can only be a once in a while indulgence for us considering the amount of carbs! But totally worth the splurge on calories!! (and ps. how can you go wrong with anything that has caramelized onions on it right?)
Chalkboard special pizza. Verrill Farm Gala apples, apple butter, sweet onions, cheddar cheese, sage, toasted pumpkin seeds for only $10. Sounds like a mouthful right? I was concerned about this one, I’m not really a fan of fruit on pizza. The apples were nicely cooked so they were soft and tasted a bit like apple pie. I have to admit that I think that this pizza would have been better if the apples were diced a little bit smaller. This pizza rust didn’t hold up as well as the mac and cheese one. You could definitely taste the sage although it didn’t overpower the pizza. Here’s what made the pizza great, it was light on the cheese so you could taste the freshness of the other ingredients.
We ended the night with a lemon tart with whipped cream and raspberries ($6). Unfortunately this didn’t impress me. It tasted like it just came out of the freezer/fridge. The lemon filling was face puckering tart and there was real whipped cream on top, but this was sort of a fake me out dessert (dressed up to look home made and fresh-although they do say that the desserts are homemade on the website).
I really enjoyed this place. It’s casual, a great place to hang out with a big group of friends. They aren’t rushing you out the door so you can hang out and linger while you watch a game on tv. I highly recommend the mac and cheese pizza-so stop in for a bite (they do call ahead seating but don’t take reservations) or grab some take out, you won’t be sorry.
138 Massachusetts Avenue Arlington MA
350 Third Street Cambridge MA