>> Monday, April 05, 2010
The secret's in the dough. And they're not telling a soul about it.
My friend likes to play with pizza dough - to the point that she's gotten into the habit of asking for a bit of pizza dough to play with when she goes to pizza restaurants. Bertucci's sells their pizza dough, and will gladly give you a bit to play with.
Guess what? The dough at The Upper Crust is so proprietary they won't let it out of their sight. So my friend wasn't able to even get a sample.
This secret dough results in some pretty tasty pizzas.
Jordan Tobins, the 31-year old founder of this place, spent a year playing around with the ratios of yeast, water, and rising times to figure out the optimal recipe for this pizza dough. What results is a crust that is amazingly thin, crunchy, yet holds its own against the toppings.
Tobins says that the secret is actually in the freshness of the ingredients. "The real key is freshness. The fresher the sauce, the sweeter it is . . . use fresh ingredients and it will taste great every time." Though he was a pre-med student in college, he abandoned that after graduation to pursue a career in the restaurant industry, opening up his first Upper Crust in Beacon Hill in 2001. It was a huge success, and since then he has opened countless more, mostly in the New England area.
My favorite is the Harvard Street, which is essentially like a Margarita pizza, made with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and garlic. I love chewing on the crunchy, thin crust.
The Lucky Luciano, which has chorizo sausage, hearts of palm, fresh tomatoes, and scallions, is quite creative and really good as well.
Other pizzas I've tried there that I like include "The Newbury" (a margarita pizza with breaded veal slices on top), "The Uncommon Pizza" (pineapples, bacon, and jalapenos), and the "Slightly Pesto" (pesto, tomatoes, and garlic).
They try to be environmental, and at least in Harvard Square, their delivery guys deliver the pizzas on bicycles! It's hilarious to see these bikes maneuvering around Cambridge with a stack of pizza boxes tied to the back.
Upper Crust pizzas taste fantastic fresh out of the oven. I love going to the restaurant and eating it there. The pizza loses a bit of its magic when delivered, although it's still pretty enjoyable, and still better than any other delivery option I can think of.
The Upper Crust has been expanding quite rapidly in the last year or so. I was pretty thrilled when they opened one up in Harvard Square really close to me this past year. We often get delivery (on bikes!) from them. Prices are on the higher end, with large pizzas costing around $20. A large pizza can comfortably feed three larger eaters and 4 smaller eaters.
Even though some lament the "chainification" of this place (arguing that it has lost some of the quaintness of the original Beacon Hill location), I personally love how it's more accessible now. I definitely go to the one in Lexington on a regular basis, and I've been known to stop by the Beacon Hill one on occasion too if I happen to be in the area and need a quick bite to eat. Of course, since I live in Cambridge, I definitely order from the Cambridge location as well (which is too tiny for sit-down anyway).
They also sell by the slice, which makes it a pretty good place to drop by for a quick lunch or dinner. Several of them have alcohol licenses, so you can even enjoy a glass of wine with your pizza slice. This place has become Bryan's default choice for a quick dinner whenever he's in the Lexington area.
Of course, there are specialty places in Boston that have better pizza (Emma's and Gran Gusto immediately come to mind). However, when it comes to finding a place that's quick, delicious, inventive, and delivers, this place can't be beat.
The Upper Crust (Beacon Hill)
20 Charles St
Boston, MA 02114
The Upper Crust (Lexington)
41 Waltham St
Lexington, MA 02421
The Upper Crust (Harvard Square)
49b Brattle St Harvard Sq
Cambridge, MA 02138