I am a longtime fan of Kendall Square's Area Four (and its dearly departed sibling, A4 in Somerville). From the hot mess brunch skillets, to the perfectly blistered pizza crusts, to the annual Haters Valentine's Day party, they just get me.
When I heard Area Four was debuting a new lunch menu, I knew I had to check it out. Thankfully, I work just a 15 minute walk away.
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon at 12:30pm and the place was packed. Without a reservation, the hostess was advising people it would be a 25-30 minute wait. If you are thinking about doing lunch here, especially with clients, plan ahead and secure a reservation.
Once we were seated, I couldn't wait to start reading up on all the new menu additions.
Because I was dining with two other girls, I could get away with tasting more dishes. We decided to share an appetizer, a salad and two pizzas.
Rule number one at Area Four: you have to order the garlic knots. Bad breath be damned! They are so worth it. Each knot pulls apart into three or four deliciously garlicky pieces that taste even better when dunked into the accompanying tomato sauce. Honestly, you could sit at the bar and have these and a glass or two of red wine and your life would be pretty complete.
As I mentioned, we ordered two different pizzas to share. The first to arrive was the mushroom and fontina. I have loved mushrooms as a pizza topping since I was a little kid (shout out to Newtonville House of Pizza!). Area Four's version of the classic 'shroom pie is sophisticated but still has that signature earthy, mushroom taste.
For our second pie, we went with the day's special, spinach and garlic (yes, more garlic). The finishing touch on the pizza is two eggs, which give it a heavenly richness. You have the leafy spinach and the savory garlic, then it all ties together with the egg yolk.
To balance out our carb fest, we also ordered one of the new lunch menu items, the smoked cauliflower salad. It was a mix of cauliflower, tomatoes, pickled red onion, feta cheese, mint and parsley. What makes the salad so unique is the incredible smokey flavor of the cauliflower. It tasted like it had just come off the grill in someone's backyard.
This salad can also come as a wrap. Rather than a deli wrap or pita bread, the wrap is actually made from the same dough as the signature pizza crusts.
The new lunch menu offers four other dishes that can be made as either a salad or a wrap: a tuna version, chicken, beef shawarma and a riff on an Italian sub.
Though I had been to Area Four for dinner and brunch countless times, I had never thought to try it for lunch (mostly because I thought it would take too long). The service was speedy, but still personal, and the pies were as memorable as ever.
If you've missed it in years past, Area Four's 5th annual Haters Valentine's Day party is Sunday, February 14th, from 5pm - 9pm.
Is Kendall Square too far? Don't fret! Area Four is planning a new location in the South End. Pizza lovers, rejoice!
*Though my meal at Area Four was complimentary, all opinions are 100 percent my own.