>>  Thursday, October 08, 2009

When I hear that a local pizza place near my home is as good as Emma's, my favorite pizza place in the world, I'm totally there.  So, of course when the buzz about Zing in Porter Square started, uhh . . buzzing, I couldn't wait to try it out. It sounded so cool. Thin crust pizza, fresh ingredients . . . and roti too? I love roti!  Before this I had only seen roti in Malaysian places like Penang.

Zing is really cute inside. There's a colorful, happy chalkboard that lists the 5 different pizzas on the menu.  Yep, that's it - they have a rotating menu that keeps changing.  That day the menu had 5 pizzas and 2 salads.  Limited menu, to say the least. Some might find the lack of choice refreshing; others may find it frustrating. They do say that they are happy to swap out ingredients, etc. You can order by the slice ($3.50 a slice), or get a whole pizza ($14.40-$19.50 with most being around $17.50).

There was an interesting sign that said they were not serving roti at this time.  During this time, they said "we are working on our recipe as well as our air conditioning." What an interesting combination of things to be working on . . .   Bryan surmised that the roti smelled bad and without AC it made things really uncomfortable.  I won't go as far as hazarding any guesses (my impression from reviews was that the roti was really delicious) but I was bummed I couldn't try the roti.
Well, we ordered one pizza and split it half & half with two different sets of toppings: The Sundance Kid (tomato sauce, mozzarella, caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes, turkey sausage, and parmesan cheese), $19.50 for a whole pie; and Augustus Classicus (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella rounds, sliced yellow tomatoes, fresh basil), $17.50 for a whole pie.

I gotta say, the pizza was huge.  They make oblong pizzas, which is kind of cute and unique, until your realize how impractical it is.  This pizza is essentially the size of two normal small pizzas.  Awkward to carry, and a pain to put in the refrigerator.  I have this tiny urban kitchen, you see, and my refrigerator door cannot swing the 180 degrees needed to open the door wide enough to fit this pizza box inside.
Sigh . . I had to wrap the slices individually in foil to fit the leftovers in the refrigerator.

I guess all this wouldn't be so bad if the pizza tasted phenomenal.  But, unfortunately, it did not.  It was OK.  Not too bad, but nothing exciting.  The crust was decently thin, but not really crispy.  The tomatoes were nice.  The sausage was a little boring.  Over, just sort of OK.  Meh.

Bryan said that, for close to $20 a pie, he expected something in the league of Emma's or at least Upper Crust.  But this wasn't even close.  Furthermore, it's counter service and there's no alcohol.  So, a notch down in ambiance. In fact, they serve your pizza in the cardboard box (see picture above) and you bus your own tables.
Bryan said if they charged about $10-$12 or so for a pizza, it would match more with the atmosphere and paucity of amenities.

In their defense, the pizza is humongous and made with ingredients from local farms.  Perhaps Zing should consider selling circular pizzas half the size of the oblong ones for $12.  Then maybe it would appease people like Bryan.  All of a sudden, Zing would be that funky little pizza place at Porter Square with cool, unique pizzas made with local ingredients.  It would still be attractive because the reasonable prices would match the casual and funky vibe of the place.  Right now, however, it feels like a casual pizza place with average food charging above average prices.  In other words, kind of overpriced.

I know this is a new business, and I hate to be so harsh.  Perhaps I'll come back in 3-4 months and give them another chance.  Maybe if I came back with 3-4 people it would actually feel like a good deal, because it probably takes 4 people to finish that monstrously sized pizza.  As of now, I feel like there are just too many better pizza options nearby for the same price.  As a result, at least in the near future, we will likely be sticking with Emma's, Gran Gusto, or Upper Crust to fulfill our $20 pizza needs. 

Porter Square
1925 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
Zing! on Urbanspoon

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