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Pizza reviews in the Boston area.

Daily Slice: The Dogwood Cafe, Jamaica Plain, 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.

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[Photographs: Edward Kearns]

When is a Maple not a maple? When it's the Maple pizza at the Dogwood Café in Jamaica Plain. The house specialty brick oven pizzas at this JP mainstay pay homage to the nearby Arnold Arboretum (Magnolia, Redwood, Willow, etc.). While there were more than two or tree (sorry) options that bore serious consideration, the winning combination this night was the sausage and ricotta pairing featured on the Maple.

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Sliced to produce generous oblong pork slabs, the sausage featured prominent hits of fennel and black pepper. The sausage also managed to remain moist enough to allow for partial pork bites, rather than the whole piece breaking free of its moorings and leaving a porcine void in the remainder of the slice. The elevated dollops of ricotta offered a great compliment to the sausage's spice. The airy-yet-not-unsubstantial texture of the ricotta also showed solid teamwork with the chewiness of the sausage and the crisp of the crust.

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Speaking of crust, it's the brick oven that makes the Dogwood a worthwhile pizza destination. Thin, but not cracker-like, the lightly-charred crust yielded nicely to a New York fold without breaking apart. The one element to get short shrift was the tomato sauce. Almost suggested rather than fully applied to the pie, the sauce could have taken on a stronger role. Clearly, the reduced role of the sauce allows more stage for the featured performers, but it would have been nice have just a little more. In hindsight, it may also be this lack of sauce that allowed the crust to maintain its integrity so well.

Though I'm still unclear about the connection between each pizza and its arboreal name, that which the Dogwood calls a Maple by any other name would still be a treat.

The Dogwood Café

3712 Washington Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 (map)
617-522-7997; dogwoodcafe.com

About the author: Ed Kearns is neither coniferous nor deciduous, but you can still follow him on Twitter: erk3

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