Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Stoked Pizza is coming to a Harvard Law School building outside Harvard Square. (Photo: Stoked Pizza via Facebook)

National Pizza Day was Tuesday, although in my house it is always National Pizza Day. Cambridge lost my favorite pizzeria, Cambridge, 1., which was on Church Street with a James Joycean view of a cemetery and pies that evoked the wonderful ones from Providence’s Al Forno. Cambridge, 1. has been replaced by Daniel Paul Roughan’s Source pizza. On the northern edge of what was once “The Square,” in a building owned by Harvard Law School at 1611 Massachusetts Ave., Scott Riebling and co-founder Toirm Miller plan to open a second branch of Stoked Pizza, although no longer using a wood-burning oven as in Brookline. Years ago the location was home to Three Aces Pizza, a sort of gathering place for museum workers from the old Fogg (and across the street from where my mother lived; I don’t think my mother ever thought to eat pizza). And in a secret facility somewhere in Middlesex County, Vincenzo Pileggi, formerly of Alltowns Fresh Stores and Clover Food Lab, is working on his own pizza concept, rooted in his Springfield, Massachusetts, childhood and affection for bar pizza, a curiously sized pizza found in suburbs south of Boston and beloved by many.

When I moved to Boston the city was full of “Greek” pizzerias, often actually run by Cypriots. They were easy to identify because of the similarity of their names: Boston House of Pizza, Cambridge Tower of Pizza, Cambridge House of Pizza … Often they featured an elaborate sign based on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is a pretty irresistible marketing image. Recently names for pizza parlors have become short, almost abrupt: Otto (from Portland, Maine), Oath (featuring avocado oil) and Blaze (which was founded by a California pretzel company).

Cambridge, 1., closed, as did Sandrine’s Bistro on Holyoke Street with an Alsatian pizza that was probably the best thing on the menu called “Flammekueche.” You can still find Alsatian-style pizzas at Picco in the South End.

Gus Rancatore has lived and eaten in Cambridge since 1973. He and his sister own Toscanini’s ice cream on First Street and soon to return to Lafayette Square.