A Hamburger Today
Daily Slice: Pleasant Cafe, Roslindale, MA
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
Sometimes the memory of a great pizza has little to do with the pizza. To wit: the Pleasant Cafe in Roslindale. Ask any local about it, and brace yourself for the rave reviews, followed closely by the deluge of childhood memories. Its reputation as a neighborhood gem was well known to me long before I sampled the fare. Suffice it to say, memory can be an unreliable narrator.
The thin-crust offerings at the Pleasant come in only one size, as is customary in the bar pie tradition. The crust's cracker-like texture holds firm around the perimeter of the pie, but is betrayed near the center by a considerable amount of grease. (Might be a bonus for more than a few of this poll's respondents.) A bit more char to the undercarriage might have made it a fair fight. The cheese is deployed sparingly, with the individual threads still recognizable even in their molten form. The sauce, though fresh and light, lacks distinction. All in all, the full production amounted to something that was (wait for it...) pleasant, if not a game changer. I have few doubts the pizza tastes much better in the bar area, surrounded by beers, friends, and the local nine on the televisions. It's clear there are greater forces at work behind this neighborhood's family favorite.
The Pleasant Cafe is as "remember when" as it gets. I suspect even a cursory examination of the property would yield at least one rotary phone and probably a typewriter. Most of the booths in the narrow, wood-paneled room host parents catching up with kids home from college, lifelong friends enjoying weekly rituals, and young parents introducing the next generation to family tradition. Like the famous fictional bar, everybody here really does know your name. OK, not my name, but everyone else in the place.