A year after the closure of its beloved Somerville location, Cambridge’s Area Four debuts its new Boston proper sibling, Area Four Boston, tonight (Friday, October 21). Fans of the original Kendall Square location (which is now five years old) and the defunct Union Square location will find some of their favorites and more at this new outpost, which is located inside the Troy Boston apartment building at 264 East Berkeley St. in the South End.
While the Cambridge Area Four focuses on pizza (complemented by a small "not pizza" section of the menu), Area Four Boston adds a greater number of dishes beyond the group’s popular wood-fired pizzas. In Boston, all kinds of meats, fish, and vegetables are tossed into the snazzy Maine Wood Heat oven, resulting in wood-fired chicken and Francis Mallmann-inspired coal-roasted vegetables. Also on the menu: pork belly with sesame fried whole grains, duck egg carbonara, a salad of Brussels sprouts and kale, and more.
As a more-than-pizza wood-fired restaurant, Area Four Boston is somewhat of a manifestation of what the original Cambridge location was supposed to be. "In Cambridge, we didn’t open with the idea that we were going to be as pizza-oriented as we are," says chef and partner Jeff Pond. "We had six pizzas to start, only one size, and no adaptations. That was our first go. After it became pretty apparent that people were coming back for the pizzas, we made a quick adjustment there, and now we’re sort of known as that place that does pizza. But we had wanted to be a wood-fired restaurant."
But of course there is pizza at the new location, too, and it’s still Pond’s mix of New Haven and Neapolitan influences, marked by an aggressively charred crust made from long-fermented sourdough and cooked between 700 and 750 degrees.
At the bar, diners will find a couple of familiar faces in bar managers Augusto Lino, an alum of Hungry Mother, and Dan Lynch, an alum of Blue Dragon. They’re serving up cocktails such as a Manhattan variation called the Greenpoint and a twist on a caipirinha called the Marilla Pera, along with beer and wine.
The space is roughly comparable in size to the Cambridge location (but doesn’t have a cafe), and it features a projection screen for video art; an abstract pattern of felt triangles that hint at pizza; some funky bar decor, including a number of small vintage televisions; a couple large pieces of art; and a record player, along with partner Michael Krupp’s record collection.
"Here we spent a little bit of time trying to create a little bit more of that night-out feeling," says Pond, as compared to the more straightforward vibe at the Cambridge location. (Compare the pretty South End stoneware to Cambridge’s simple white plates, for example.) "But we’re making sure not to forget our roots, which is important for us — it’s a place to come any day and get a couple of pizzas and a really good beer."
Area Four Boston serves dinner daily from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; the bar stays open until 2 a.m. Reservations will soon be accepted via OpenTable, and stay tuned for the future launch of to-go service (including 20-inch "party pizzas," which will not be available for dining in) and late-night options, which might end up resembling the slice deals that the Somerville location offered.
Also on the horizon: the previously reported epic collaboration between Area Four and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, a Cambridge arcade filled with burgers, grilled cheese, and cocktails. Pond is currently estimating an early December opening.
- Area Four Coverage [EBOS]
All photos by Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater