WGBH's Henry Santoro interviewed co-owner Michael Krupp and executive chef Jeff Pond of Area Four about their fresh take on pizza and their new retro space in Cambridge, A4cade. Below is a slightly edited transcription of their conversation. Click on the audio above to hear the interview.
Henry Santoro: When noted food writer Sheryl Julian begins her restaurant review with the sentence 'I'm eating one of the best pizzas in Boston, charred on the bottom and along its chewy edges cooked through so there's no mushy underlayer and with topping proportions that are exactly right,' you know exactly who she's writing about. It's the new Area Four restaurant in Boston that opened in October. The pizza is just one of the amazing dishes on the menu. Area Four is owned and operated by Michael Krupp and executive chef Jeff Pond. It is a pleasure to welcome them to our WGBH studios and to Henry In The Hub.
Good morning gentlemen.
Michael Krupp and Jeff Pond: Good morning Henry. Thank you for having us.
Santoro: Cooking over an open fire — which is what you do Jeff — using real wood and screaming hot ovens, that's kind of like a caveman concept isn't it?
Pond: Yeah, I enjoy it. It's the only way I've wanted to cook for years. So when we opened Area Four, that was the main thing we wanted to cook on.
Santoro: A hot, wood fired oven — we know it makes a great pizza, as you just said. But as Sheryl Julian points out, it's the ingredients that really make that pizza and the food spectacular. What's the secret to your pizza?
Pond: For us, it's time. To be honest with you, we take a lot of time and care with it. The dough is a three day process. We feed it, let it sit overnight to evolve, and then the following day we make our bread or a pizza dough. That sits again overnight and then we portion it on the third day, and either use it that evening or the following day.
Santoro: Wow. I was at the opening of the Kendall Square location in 2011, where I first met Michael, and I have been back dozens and dozens of times. But what differentiates what's happening at that location versus the new Berkeley Street location?
Krupp: For Jeff and I, this was really an opportunity for Area Four to grow up and run parallel to the neighborhood we're in. When we opened the Kendall restaurant, I think we knocked it out of the park for not just the quality but for the type of restaurant we opened for that particular tech driven neighborhood with younger people. There's still a huge pizza-centric focus on the menu. But Jeff has done a really great job of adding more.
Santoro: Michael, The bar-caid or A4caid is a new place. The buzz is already huge!
Krupp: So, I am a big kid. There's a couple of things I love: I love food, I love drinking and I love games of all sorts. So the fact that nobody's done this yet in Boston is a bit of shocker.
Santoro: It's pretty mind boggling.
Krupp: It's amazing because they're all over the place, but we're the first guys in Boston. And the concept is a cool one. We teamed up with our buddy James DiSabatino who owns Roxy's Grilled Cheese, and it's going to be in Central Square right on the Red Line. For all intents and purposes, you look at the front, and it's a Roxy's Grilled Cheese. But there's a speakeasy entrance. Walk though a kitchen door and there's what looks like a walk in fridge. Open the walk and it leads to a tiny grilled cheese shop. We've got about 3,000 square feet back there.
There are two bars with a dozen TVs playing everything from sports to old movies. There's half a dozen pinball machines. There's skeeball. There's pop-a-shot. There's shuffleboard. We actually have the largest shuffleboard in Boston. It's 18 feet long. We have a full deejay booth entertainment license there so we'll have guys spinning (and gals spinning). It's just going to be a really fun, very vibrant, loud experience that we're excited to bring to Boston.
Santoro: Can't wait.
Krupp: Yeah you and me both.
Santoro: Chef Jeff Pond and Michael Krupp, owners of the Area Four restaurants in Kendall Square and the South End's ink block neighborhood. Thank you both so much for coming in.
Krupp and Pond: Thank you.