Harvard Square wasn’t too into the idea of yet another pizza option coming to the neighborhood: After hitting a roadblock with Cambridge’s zoning board, DC-based chain &pizza recently gave up on its plans to move into the former adjacent Tory Row and Crimson Corner spaces in the heart of the square.
But &pizza didn’t want to give up entirely on its Boston-area dreams of expansion. “Through this process, we have gotten to really know and love Boston and the Cambridge community and look forward to the day we can open our doors,” &pizza CEO Michael Lastoria said at the time. Now he’s back, eyeing a space down the street, and he’s adding some sugary incentive. (See update below.)
&pizza is officially teaming up with the ultra-popular NY-based Milk Bar, according to Boston Magazine, to open a joint venture at 1394 Massachusetts Ave. in Harvard Square. (Interestingly, a representative of &pizza did very briefly mention the Milk Bar partnership to the zoning board back in April, but now it seems to be a larger part of the focus. “We're partnering with a group that many people may have heard of, David Chang, Momofuku has a group called Milk Bar,” &pizza development manager Drew Murphy said at the time. “It's a dessert orientation. We are now partnering with them to have a dessert program.”)
“&pizza stands for connection, inclusion and unity, and joining forces with Milk Bar is a perfect example of how we will bring those values directly to Cambridge,” said Lastoria, per Boston Magazine.
Milk Bar, helmed by Christina Tosi under the Momofuku umbrella, now has a dozen locations in New York, DC, Vegas, and Toronto. And Tosi’s no stranger to Harvard Square; she has participated in Harvard’s Science & Cooking lecture series, teaching emulsions and foams in baking.
Milk Bar is known for its menu of over-the-top cakes, cereal-infused milks, “crack pie,” cake-filled shakes, and more, while &pizza serves up customizable pizzas and cultivates a “tribe” of employees — some of whom even get an ampersand tattoo paid for by the company.
Now that news of the Milk Bar and &pizza partnership has moved outside of a passing mention in a board meeting, stay tuned to see whether Cambridge looks more favorably upon the new proposal in a different space.
Update, 7/2/17: Per Cambridge Day, the space in question is actually the same space as before — the former Tory Row and Crimson Corner space — just with a Massachusetts Avenue address, not the previous Brattle Street addresses. Cambridge Day also has additional details on the updated proposal, including a name for the business (milk &pizza) and changes to the design, including the addition of a cursive pink “milk” to the storefront lettering and the change from black umbrellas on the patio (&pizza’s main branding color) to white umbrellas with black and pink dots, combining the Milk Bar and &pizza brands. (Take a peek at the renderings.) The plain black color palette of the previously proposed storefront had been a sticking point with the zoning board; one member previously described it as “stark” and “cold,” according to Cambridge Day.
Another change in the new proposal is that the interior seating will only be 36, not the previously proposed 48, to make space for the Milk Bar area. There will still be 14 seasonal patio seats.
If this proposal isn’t accepted, the space will just become home to yet another bank, the property owners warned the board back in April. Stay tuned for updates; the &pizza team will go before the planning board and then the zoning board soon.
Update, 7/3/17: This article has been updated to clarify that Milk Bar, while affiliated with Momofuku Restaurant Group, simply goes by the name Milk Bar, not Momofuku Milk Bar.
Update, 7/12/17: One step closer. After a successful hearing with the planning board last night, &pizza provided the following statement:
We’re thankful for the endorsements from the Harvard Square Advisory Board and Planning Board and look forward to sharing our new plans with the Board of Zoning Appeals. Along with Christina Tosi and our friends at Milk Bar, we're excited about the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind food, beverage, and community gathering experience that’s worthy of calling Cambridge home.
• Milk Bar Is Planning a Boston-Area Location [BM]
• D.C. Pizza Restaurant Alters Cambridge Expansion Plans For Now [EBOS]
• Momofuku Milk Bar [Official Site]
• &pizza [Official Site]