P As In Pizza, That Is
BOSTON RECON Slice Roving Reporter E-Rock swooped in on Boston (above) for his latest Slice To Go report. His adventures are detailed below. [This image from USGS satellite via Microsoft TerraServer website.]
WORDS BY E-ROCK | PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS NAU How does one prepare for the coming shitstorm next month called the Republican National Convention? The one that will snarl our streets, shut down our trains, and fill the streets with folks who don't like our city anyway? [Oh but they will love New York, E-Rock, once they get a taste of our delicious pizza. See G.O.Pizza for details.Ed.] Go to Boston a few days before the Democratic National Convention, where essentially the same thing is happening, except that the drunk guys in suits are having a lovefest fueled by parties in Cambridge with mounds of cocaine the size of Pamela Anderson's implants.
E-Rock had a long weekend a few days ago, and it takes more than a throng of juiced-up politicians and their boot-licking servants to spoil that. I go to Boston a couple times every summer to visit my twisted abstract-painter friend Chris. In the past we would wander around the streets of South Boston with open containers and watch huge artist-loft buildings get demolished by wrecking balls to make way for high-end condos. But now he and his girlfriend Lesley have a place in quaint Somerville, Massachusetts, just north of the city, so we decided to settle for a Saturday spent wandering around the more well-traveled areas of the city, capped by a pizza freakout.
When I got to Somerville, I found out that Lesley was going to volunteer for the proceedings at the convention on Sunday as a "city guide." Her required attire? A white golf shirt with the logos of corporate sponsors like Gillette (it said nothing about the convention on it) and khaki pants. Did the fashion people setting this up have the right convention?
IRAQI ARTIFACTS E-Rock met an Iraqi-based contractor in a Boston bar who showed him Iraqi money (left) and wild pictures on his laptop (right).
We then walked northwest through the city toward the Charles Rivercruising by plenty of people in white golf shirts and khakisand ended up at another bar, the Crossroads, at the foot of the bridge connecting the two cities. Thinking we would just settle for a pre-pizza shot of Jameson, it was supposed to be a quick stop. But things changed when Mariano Rivera blew the Yanks' lead and Chris started talking to a guy who had spent months as a contractor in Iraq. That part of our journey was punctuated by the guy showing us newly-minted money from Iraq, freaky pictures of what's happening in the country and telling us about the general insanity going on over there. (I guess it's legal to walk around with an automatic weapon in clear view.) Red Sox third baseman Bill Meuller slammed a two-run shot off Rivera, and the bar erupted. We decided it was time to leave and walk across the Mass. Ave. bridge to Cambridge before people started lighting cars on fire.
Anyway, the pizza siren called, and we walked to this place called Cambridge and through the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We witnessed some MIT weirdnessballroom dancing in some student union type of building. Ballroom dancing classes on a Saturday night in the summer? Is this what Noam Chomsky does for fun?
Emma's does have a bit of a hippie vibe to it, but the restaurant is more upscale than most places one would find in a college town. The joint was packed, but we waited only ten minutes for our table.
We ordered a small, 12-inch pie with basil, garlic, traditional sauce, and mozzarella ($11.75, below left) and, at Chris and Lesley's suggestion, we got a large, 16-inch smorgasbordhalf of it topped with thyme-roasted mushroom, baby spinach, garlic, traditional sauce, and mozzarella and half with feta, scallion, garlic, gorgonzola, traditional sauce, and mozzarella on the other half ($16.25, below right). (See, E-Rock told you there was some hippie-ness going on here.)
Emma's crust is indeed thin, but it's more like a soft Carr's cracker than the crisp-chewy perfection one finds in Gotham. Plus, those combos of toppings are so far afield from what E-Rock orders in NYC that it was like a whole different experience. This is what I've always imagined California-style pizza to be. The menu also offers pagnotelle sandwiches and salads.
But the topping combos were tasty, and even the plain pie had a nice flavor. The ingredients were fresh, and, hey, at least it wasn't deep dish. There is the possibility that E-Rock was just drunk, too, [That's a very good possibility.Ed.] and anything would have been good at that point.
I'll recommend Emma's, though, if you're ever in Cambridge, for a good pizza-based meal, but not if you're looking for a New Yorkstyle pie. That is something E-Rock will try to find on his next trek up north. Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?
I left amid the beautiful chaos that is the line for the Fung Wah, something E-Rock would take any day of the week over the pain that is Greyhound. And, no, I didn't see Bill, Hillary, T-Kenn, Kerry, or Edwards drunk on power and whooping it up. I didn't see them at all, in fact. But in the parking lot of a rest stop somewhere in Connecticut, E-Rock saw a busload of Falun Gong devotees, the same ones who were protesting the day before on Boston Common.
When the Falun Gong gets going, that's usually a good sign that it's the right time to leave.
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