Saturday, May 21, 2011

Upper Crust

I get to (read: have to) travel a lot for my day job, something I often find myself doing over weekends, through extreme climates, and meeting plenty of wacky individuals. Fortunately for me, there's pizza everywhere I travel. Everywhere.

Recently I found myself in Boston for a project, and considering how weak my coverage of Massachusetts pizza is, my timing couldn't be better. I knew immediately where I was stopping first: acclaimed pizza chain Upper Crust.

I went to the flagship location originally opened by founder Jordan Tobins in 2001 in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. This place was pretty cramped with only one large communal table, but no harm no foul- you gotta start somewhere, right?

UC is strictly a gas deck oven kind of joint, which is no surprise considering they have 20 locations and counting at this point (including Washington, D.C.). This isn't a situation like Boston pizza brethren Pizzeria Regina in which the original location operates a coal oven while its franchised subsidiaries are all gas (boo)- no, from what I hear their quality control is amiably consistent between locations.

So here's the plain slice, which has a nice zing to it. From what I could tell they put some red pepper flakes in their sauce- something I don't usually dig but it works well with whatever else they're seasoning their tomatoes with. The pie itself is super thin, also something I'm not usually a fan of, but again, Upper Crust was nailing this slice.

Here's how this place operates when you walk in for a slice- every day they have plain cheese and pepperoni ("Roni" as they call it), as well as their daily special. Upper Crust has a staggering list of specialty pizzas and even more toppings and ingredients to boot, ranging from your average expectancies to toppings that some people would argue "don't belong on a pizza."

Case in point: the grilled chicken pesto pie was the daily special. I hesitated at first, but I clearly made the executive decision to order one of these guys as well. After a couple bites I had no regrets, and though I'll admit I don't order this combo frequently, it didn't quite outshine the chicken pesto slice I had last summer at Sammy's.

Nevertheless, Upper Crust makes a smashing pizza and 'gives the people what they want' by putting 53 different toppings on their menu. I can clearly see why this place has become a local favorite in such a short amount of time and how they're able to expand so rapidly.

I left with a full stomach and a realization that Boston truly has a unique pizza identity, something I was unsure of until my visit to Upper Crust. So when are they opening one in New York? "When the sox win the next World Series."

We'll see about that.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review -- you really managed to focus on what's good about Upper Crust -- it's not the greatest thing in the world, and they've had some issues, but they're successful for a reason. Next time you're in town drop me a line and we'll hit some other pizza spots. Take care!


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