Harvard Square has changed a lot since I was a little girl. The Urban Outfitters I spent hours and hours in as a teenager has closed. The House of Blues location where I saw Dispatch and Norah Jones has moved to a flashier downtown location. Many of the independent shops that used to give the neighborhood its charm (and quirk!) have been replaced with chains like Sweetgreen and Warby Parker.
That said, there are two new arrivals to Harvard Square that I am extremely excited about, &pizza and Milk Bar. The two brands have opened a shared space at 3 Brattle Street, formerly occupied by Tory Row (R.I.P.).
&pizza was founded by Michael Lastoria, with a focus on high wages and employee development for his team. Harvard Square is location number 34 for the growing pizza empire.
Milk Bar is the brain child of pastry chef and sweet tooth mastermind Christina Tosi. If you haven't watched her episode of Chef's Table on Netflix (season four, episode one) stop what you are doing right now and stream it.
The first time I visited Milk Bar was at its teeny tiny window in SoHo in New York City. Later on, I would also grab cookies at the Carroll Gardens location in Brooklyn, and late night at The Cosmopolitan Hotel location in Las Vegas. To say I am happy that we have our very own Milk Bar location in Boston would be a dramatic understatement.
I arrived to this delicious double whammy on a Wednesday night at 6:30pm. One of my best friends from college came to meet me, and when we first walked in, we weren't quite sure where to go. It's not immediately obvious where to stand if you want pizza vs. dessert. We walked over to what we thought was the spot to order 'za, and it turned out we were at the checkout. My friend commented, "Would it kill them to have a little more signage?"
Eventually we did find our way into the pizza line. There are menus right where the line begins so you can decide on what you're having before you reach the counter.
All of the signature pies looked amazing, so we selected three to share.
The pizza was prepped and cooked in record time. We were both really impressed. My dinner date also remarked, "I think this is very fairly priced. $11.50 for a pizza this big feels like a bargain!"
We went with the Gnarlic (garlic ricotta, mozzarella, grilled onion, basil pesto, garlic oil and parmesan), the Moonstruck (mushroom truffle, garlic ricotta, mozzarella, mushroom, grilled onion, goat cheese and fig balsamic) and the American Honey (spicy tomato, mozzarella, arugula, goat cheese, hot honey and red pepper flakes).
The Gnarlic was the first one I tasted and I loved it right away. The pesto was the star of the pie. My friend chimed in, "The pesto really was the best part. The bites I had without it tasted one note."
Next I snagged a piece of the American Honey, which usually has pepperoni, but we requested it veg. While we both liked the hot honey and the zesty arugula, it felt like something was missing (probably the pepperoni!).
I tried the Moonstruck last, and after the very first bite it was my instant favorite. It had just the right amount of truffle, a richness from the balsamic glaze, and a light sprinkling of goat cheese. I knew right away this was the pizza I would start to crave a few days from now that would magnetize me back.
All three pizzas had perfectly thin, wonderfully crispy crust. And even though the crust was thin, it was still strong enough to hold all the toppings without flopping over, which is key.
To go with our pizzas, we each got a fountain soda. There are all kinds of unique drink options, including a Cereal Milk soda, which sounds pretty disgusting (even though I love the Cereal Milk soft serve).
We both went with the dark cherry cola, which was a perfect compliment to our savory slices.
We cleared away all our pizza stuff, gave up our table, and got back into line, this time for dessert.
Just like &pizza, Milk Bar also makes the menu available for you to hold while you're in line.
I decided on the Cereal Milk soft serve with corn flake crunch, and the Compost Cookie. My bestie ordered the Boston Cream Pie Milkquake, and the Chocolate Malt Cake Truffles.
This is my kind of spread!
I have had the Cereal Milk soft serve many times before, but I forgot that in addition to lining the rim of the dish with the corn flakes, they also crush up a bunch at the bottom, so you have enough to mix into every single bite. Genius!
The cashier offered to warm up our Compost Cookie, which we took her up on. It felt like we were eating it fresh out of the oven. If you've never had one before, the Compost Cookie has pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, graham cracker, butterscotch, and chocolate chips.
The Boston Cream Pie Milkquake had yellow cake pieces mixed in and hot fudge on top, decorated with the cutest little flag. My friend scooped and raved, "Every bite I get a new thing - a chunk of chocolate, a piece of cake."
We opened the package of Chocolate Malt Cake Truffles after we'd finished our ice cream, and we were disappointed. While the inside was chocolatey and dense, the outer shell tasted chalky.
Minus some minor confusion when we arrived about where exactly to stand, we had a great time at &pizza and Milk Bar. The pizzas were super tasty, and we were thrilled by how quickly our order was ready. Post-pizza, the Milk Bar treats were heavenly, especially the ice cream options.
Tell me, have you been? What did you order?