27 Church Street
Tucked behind the Loews Theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge 1. is not your typical pizza place. Upon entering, you feel as if you have stepped inside a cabin – a trendy, minimal upscale cabin in the middle of the woods. This is achieved partially through Cambridge, 1.’s decor – natural lighting and sleek black stone booths offset by walls and chairs made of grainy dark wood. The crowning effect, however, is the huge window that comprises the entire back wall of the restaurant. Through it, all you can see are trees. Stepping inside produces a momentary sensation of transportation, and it takes a moment to adjust from the urban hustle of Cambridge, Massachusetts to Cambridge, 1.’s relaxed, woodsy atmosphere. Stylistically, Cambridge, 1. is miles away from the counter service offered by more traditional pizza restaurants in Cambridge like Upper Crust and Naked Pizza (and thanks to Cambridge, 1.’s atmosphere, the distance feels physical even though Upper Crust is a mere block away).
When I arrived with a friend for lunch around 1:30, the place was busy. As our waitress led us to our table, we passed a group of business men drinking craft beers, multiple families with young children, an older trio enjoying a bottle of wine, and a hipster couple peering at each other through matching thick framed glasses. Cambridge, 1. does not offer traditional slices of pizza – you can either order half a pizza or a full one (half a pizza is generally enough for one hungry person, so the portion sizes are good for sharing.) The menu also offers a selection of salads and pasta, but a quick survey of the restaurant revealed that everyone was sticking to pizza.
From the 13 different kinds of offered pizza, we selected the #12 (spinach, artichoke hearts, chevre, slow roasted tomatoes – our waitress’s recommendation). You won’t find conventional offerings like pepperoni, or Hawaiian on the menu (although those looking for something a little more familiar can try the #1 – tomato, fontina, romano, garlic, basil – Cambridge, 1.’s take on a traditional cheese pizza). Our order arrived quickly – it was pizza, but barely – a loose adaption of the traditional model. Postmodern pizza, perhaps; a pizza deconstructed consisting of a thin flat bread covered with heaping piles of grilled spinach, whole cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and melted crumbles of chevre. Despite lacking the essential elements of a traditional pizza (tomato sauce, for example) it was delicious. The flat bread and toppings not only all held together, but complimented one another; the butteriness of the spinach was undercut by the sharpness of the chevre, and both flavors were complimented by the sweetness of the roasted cherry tomatoes.
We cleared our plate (as, I noticed, did the hipster couple to our right) and planned our next visit as we waited for the bill – we’ve narrowed it down to the #5 (potato, fontina, parmigiano, romano, rosemary, garlic) or the #10 (fresh lobster, roasted shallots, mascarpone). I can’t wait to return to the woods.
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