AREA 4: More style than substance
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Area Four
As we approach Area Four for a nice weeknight dinner, it seems like another trendy, modern restaurant near the Kendall stop on the Red Line. Industrial windows allow passersby to see the clean, organic décor, an exposed kitchen, and a mix of traditional tables, a bar and high tables. Black accessories, dark wood furniture and light fixtures, and stainless steel accents come together to give the restaurant a comfortable yet elegant feeling. The brick oven where their signature pizza dishes are baked is the focus of the small space, allowing diners to see and smell what they are about to indulge in. A noticeably young, trendy staff seated us without much of a wait.
I decided to try the coffee. Area Four has a unique way of serving coffee; instead of having a house coffee they invite small coffee producers to serve their beans for a month. This month featured beans roasted in Maine. We were impressed by the small detail of how the water was served: in rustic glass bottles with no labels, a nod to the organic motif of the restaurant’s décor.
We decided to go for the pizza, which is Area Four’s signature. The range of toppings was quite small–most of the pizzas were variations of pickled banana peppers, pecorino, caramelized onions, and a few other limited choices. We settled on two small pies of eight slices each. First was the pie that appeared the most drool-worthy: caramelized onions & Gorgonzola with peppered walnuts & scallions. The pizza was quite warm, the crust was hard to chew, and the cheese was not quite as “melty” as we would’ve liked. Some baked figs and more caramelized onions might have balanced out the saltiness of the pizza since both the Gorgonzola and the banana peppers were quite salty. Next was the A4 fennel sausage & pickled banana peppers with mozzarella, pecorino & parsley. Although not noted on the menu, the sausage was made from pork. This pie, too, was not piping hot. The sausage had quite a lot of fennel, and this was the overwhelming note in this pie.
The restaurant’s décor gave us high expectations, but the pizza was ordinary. Another pizza joint in the neighborhood, ZA, has delicious pies that are bigger and a bit cheaper. Along with the restaurant, Area Four also has hot dog stand and a café and bakery which open during the daytime, which we will have to come back for. Area 4’s concept and college student focus is commendable, but more variety and perhaps focusing on one aspect of this cafe/bakery/bar/oven would be a good idea.
Food (taste): B-
Food (presentation): B
Cambridge, MA 02139
Neighborhoods: Cambridge, Kendall Square