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Boston, MA: Picco

Former pastry chef and baker Rick Katz is behind the bubbly, chewy, tender crust that are the star of the show at Picco in Boston. These desirable characteristics are yielded by a high hydration dough that is also responsible fot the crust's one flaw. More

Cambridge, MA: All Star Pizza Bar

All Star Pizza Bar, the newest Inman Square outpost from Kosta and Johnny Diamantopoulos, sits diagonally across the street from the brothers’ All Star Sandwich Bar. Like its well-regarded, older sibling, the All Star Pizza Bar serves inventive food in a friendly and welcoming environment. (In contrast to the Sandwich Bar, which offers salads and dessert, this is a focused affair: aside from beer, sangria and soft drinks, it serves pizza and only pizza.) More

Hawaii: Kona Brewing Company

A vacation on the island of Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) presents something of a paradox for food lovers. If you have access to a kitchen or can afford resort dining it's a dream, but good low-end, hole-in-the-wall places are few and far between. And that goes for pizza, especially. With some help from Albert Grande of Pizzatherapy.com, I found Slice-worthy pies at Kona Brewing Co. More

Cambridge, MA: Area Four Café for a Great Breakfast Sandwich and Baked Goods

Though it sounds more like a destination for flying saucers than one for earthlings in search of a good meal, Area Four is in fact a new restaurant in Kendall Square, just a stone's throw from the MIT campus. (The odd moniker refers to the city-designated zoning section in which it resides.) You can trust whatever comes out of pastry chef Katie Kimble's oven here, but there are two items you definitely don't want to miss: the breakfast sandwich and the craquelin. More

Providence, RI: Nice Slice Pizzeria

Nice Slice is a hipster-slash-hippie slice joint, with RISD-alum Shepard Fairey's Andre the Giant posters plastered on its walls and a substantial portion of their menu friendly to a vegan clientele. A recent visit revealed the thin crust pies make a solid slice. More

Behind the Scenes: Island Creek Oyster Farm in Massachusetts

These photos should give you a sense of what life is like for the typical oyster grown at Island Creek Oyster Farm on Massachusetts' south shore, just north of Cape Cod. It's an ideal habitat for oyster farming because it's protected on three sides by land and open to Cape Cod bay. At any one time, there are between 15 and 20 million oysters growing here. They start their lives about the size of a pepper flake. More

Barrel Oven Fever

Dome masonry ovens, regardless of size or which end of the cost spectrum they sit, are inefficient when used infrequently—as they are in most home settings—since they operate by virtue of retained rather than direct (or continuous) heat. Enter the barrel oven... More

The Kneading Conference 2011

The Kneading Conference is like Burning Man for breadheads—if bread and baking is your passion, this is the place to be. There is nothing more invigorating and stimulating than spending two days meeting and hanging out with fellow travelers, swapping stories, learning new techniques, and getting your hands in the dough. More

Somerville, Massachusetts: Flatbread Company

Flatbread Company in Davis Square, Somerville s located in Sacco's Bowl Haven, one of the few remaining old-school candlepinbowling alleys in the area, and the lanes are still open for business. What could be better than pizza, beer, and bowling? Nothing, of course, so a few weeks ago, I got the team together and we dropped in to Flatbread Company to play a couple of frames and sample some of their pies. More

Newton, Massachusetts: Maria di Napoli Ristorante

Maria di Napoli Ristorante in Newton, MA, is an unassuming spot in the sleepy Italian-American neighborhood of Nonantum, a few miles outside of Boston. The pies at Maria di Napoli Ristorante are both larger in width and thinner-crusted than a true Neapolitan. But the brightly-flavored, uncooked crushed plum tomato based sauce, simple, sparingly-applied toppings, and a crust with ultra-tender crumb all shout Neapolitan just the same. More

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Otto

The Maine-based mini-chain Otto has opened a tiny storefront shop right in the heart of Harvard Square. In keeping with the space's diminutive size, the focus here is on slices (mainly for take out, given the single stool that sits almost mockingly in the front window). More

New Haven: Delicious Thin-Crust Pizza at Bar

According to the staff, the original pizza cook at Bar once worked at Sally's on Wooster Street, and at first glance, the pedigree is apparent: the pizzas are served over a sheet of parchment paper set into aluminum sheet trays, shaped into elongated circles to better fit the rectangular pan. There are differences, too, though—the pizzas are substantially thinner than other New Haven pies, and they are sliced into rectangles rather than the usual wedges. More

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge, 1

Cambridge, 1 is located in the heart of Harvard Square, in what used to be the the city's original firehouse, with a recently-opened second location in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. Appropriately enough for a former fire station, this hip, minimalist bar, as popular with the locals as it is with Harvard glitterati, serves pizzas grilled over a charcoal fire. More

Book Review: Build Your Own Barrel Oven

Don't know if anyone is still paying attention to this thread, but I should be able to prove all you naysayers all wrong (jk) real soon, because the kit I ordered is waiting on a loading dock for me right now. Should have the oven up and running by late May.

Boston, MA: Twice Cooked Preserved Pork at Dumpling Cafe

@mike5966: I think that LB would agree that this is one of the few dishes at DC that is sauced appropriately. I'm curious to try the GHD version, except their XLB are not nearly as good as at the Cafe (IMHO).

Book Review: Build Your Own Barrel Oven

@arjunsr: The full kit is $800, plus shipping from Oregon. (To me in MA, it'll probably be a couple hundred at most). The remaining parts and materials (bricks, cinderblocks, clay) can in theory be sourced for free. If you had to pay for everything, I'd guess $1500 would cover it easily.

@abunchofyou: According to Max & Eva, there is no upper limit for temps. I saw the Man, Fire, Food clip, and I don't remember them saying anything like that. Like most other WFOs, it'll get hotter the more fuel you burn. Max told me that they worried the barrels might corrode if you push them temperature-wise on a regular basis, but he's found them to be more resilient than they'd expected.

Look, I know it's a trade-off to swap this for my beehive, where 1000 degrees is easy to achieve. I'm expecting to run this more in the 750-900 degree range, which is more than adequate for the kind of pies I prefer (NY/NH). But it likely could run at higher temps too. (But no live fire.)

The advantage for me with a barrel oven (beyond efficiency) is that it is WAY more spacious than most ovens of its size and cost. I expect to be able to bake 8 or 10 loaves of bread at once, which is double the capacity of my beehive, and triple that of my indoor range. And to be able to bake load after load without stopping to refire. I'll use it for pizza for sure, but that's secondary to its function for me as a bread oven.

A Tour of Sicily at Next in Chicago

Thanks, everyone for the nice and/or at least civil comments ;). I kinda agree with the general sentiment that it is sort of odd that such a place does not (at least as regards this menu) "interpret" cuisines and take them to a novel place. (A friend had the "Thai" menu and had largely the same experience.) But that fact still doesn't change my mind about the meal we had. It was a pleasure from start to finish (except for one brief moment that I did not mention in the post; more on that below), and I don't mind having spent the not-insubstantial amount we did on it. That said, it was a one-off for sure, and I'm not particularly interested in going back again.

My sense is that most of the clientele at Next are not interested Achatz taking these cuisines to another level, and are happy that they are as well done as they are. Perhaps the restaurant is a way for him to attract customers who have no interest in the sort of theater that is served at Alinea.

As for the one sour note (it was really more amusing than anything else): at about the 2.5h mark, the host approached our table to tell us that we were taking too long with our meal. He said that "most diners" finish their meals at Next within three hours or less, and suggested that we speed things up. Needless to say, we laughed it off, and carried on at our own pace. At the end of the meal, he (only semi-jokingly) told us that we had set a record for the longest meal ever eaten at Next. We all thought the whole thing was entirely inappropriate for any fine-dining restaurant, especially one with so many courses and at such prices. In any case, we ateat what seemed like a perfectly reasonably pace to us. Maybe midwesterners just eat faster than we do.

@kenji: interesting about caponata. I'll admit I'd never had it like that before, but I've never been to Sicily, so I assumed that this was what it was supposed to be like. The celery was definitely crisp/tender.

Down South: What Does Sassafras Taste Like?

Sassafras isn't just a southern tree species, it's common here in New England too. You are right to dismiss fears of safrole's carcinogenicity; if we avoided everything that gives you cancer when consumed in mass amounts, the spice cabinet would be nearly bare.

Also, you didn't mention why pure safrole is a semi-controlled substance in the US and elsewhere, which is an interesting sidenote to this story. ;)

Pizza Education: Building the Next Generation of Slice'rs

@dmcavanaugh: Making pizza is exactly the sort of thing any kids would get into without prompting from their parents. And those kids are clearly enjoying themselves thoroughly.

The Pizza Lab: We Test The New and Improved KettlePizza Grill Insert

You know, it strikes me that what would improve this thing greatly is some sort of reflective and dense cover that would lower the "dome" height to direct more heat down onto the pie. The height of the collar and the Weber lid puts it too far from the pizza to do much.

The Pizza Lab: We Test The New and Improved KettlePizza Grill Insert

I'm intrigued to hear about Meredith's friends promising results, and I'd like to see this device up close, but I find the whole idea of hacking a kettle grill into a pizza oven dubious. A grill is designed to heat from below, and as Kenji and others have already mentioned, pizza has very different heat requirements. At the very least, you'll have to use a ton of fuel to get results similar to a WFO, especially given the amount of heat that is lost to the environment through the thin walls of the kettle itself.

Cambridge, MA: Area Four Pizza

@Adam: Agreed. It's the clam chowder of pizza topping combos.

@MGrace: I've had the soft-serve, and it is very good. I should have mentioned that.

@guycooking: Alas, we often do not have the $$ or time to visit places more than once. I just happened to wait too long to post my original review, and had no choice, as they changed the pie sizes. Thanks for the photo praise, they were especially hard at A4, where it is very dark. Note to self: do SE review visits at lunchtime for better lighting.

@Jessica: I didn't mention the pretzels because we tried those, and found them dry and tough. But you're not the only one who is a fan, so maybe our experience was a fluke, and we'll have to try again. I am a serious pretzel-head.

My Thai: Creamy Tom Yam Kung

Great addition to the SE family. Welcome aboard, Leela. Let me add one item to Liz's list: mee grob!

Poll: Pickled Peppers, Way or No Way?

Pizza Flavored Steamed Buns: Stupid, or Genius?

@kenji Photos are forthcoming. I considered putting 'steam' in quotes, though no pun was intended originally. I ran out of dough/time/energy, but I still have two days to rock them, so you never know. As for steam, the char siu, cumin beef, and red bean ones are in the freezer, awaiting revival.

Pizza Flavored Steamed Buns: Stupid, or Genius?

No one will believe me now that you posted this, Kenji, but I was going to do this exact thing for a party this coming weekend. I was thinking of it as a Chinese suppli al telephono, but same diff.

Made the dough and the filling but ran out of steam after making 150 or so more traditional buns. (With help from Ms. @slice, who can shape buns like the best of them.)

Eyewitness Booze Investigation: Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow and Whipped Cream Vodkas

Hey, Will, congrats, couldn't have happened to a better guy. And best of luck surviving the wedding planning, I've been there. There's perhaps no better reason to be happy on your wedding day than knowing that it's all finally behind you.

International Serious Eats Day: February 18 or 25?

Whoa. Somehow I missed the first announcement. I'm down for either weekend, in NYC or at home here in Boston.

Daily Slice: Angelo's, Cambridge

Angelo's has long been my fave slice in town. If not for the school's-in-session only hours, I'd slice it up there more often myself. I'm pretty sure they even take summers off.

Chocoholic: Triple Chocolate Cream Puffs

Those look so good, they might have come from this amazing baker woman I used to work with. Welcome aboard, Yvonne.

Video: Serious Eats Bikes Brooklyn and Queens for Tacos (and Some Non-Taco Detours)

I have a bike too! I want in on any Boston area crawls, please!

My Pie Monday: Pumpkin, Welfleet Clams, Tuna and More!

My bad. I meant Franny's recipe. Motorino doesn't use cream in their sauce AFAIK.

Barrel Oven Fever

Hey all, been away for awhile, just catching up with comments now. I wrote this piece as much to get feedback from other WFO users and enthusiasts on how well this design might or might not work for pizza, so keep your questions and comments coming.

The way I see it is that a barrel oven is functionally equivalent to a home oven, except without a temperature limit. It can get as hot as you want it to, as long as there's wood to burn. Max at Firespeaking said that people haven't used them at high temps with regularity enough yet, but that doing so might corrode the barrel more quickly. That said, he's said that he's yet to see an oven corrode in the 10+ years he's been working around or with them. (It would be relatively easy to replace if and when it did, since it just slides in.)

As for even heating, I don't see why it would be any more uneven than other designs, especially once the masonry starts to soak up heat. I did imagine adding stones or tiles to the trays (Max said that was reasonable), since both bread and pizza benefit from direct conducted heat. Of course these would need more than 15m to heat up, but because they'd be relatively thin, much less time than a thick deck would.

As for the potential loss of "smoke" flavor in pizzas when cooked in a barrel oven, there is little consensus as to whether smoke flavor gets picked up in pies when cooked in the presence of a live fire (ash flavor is another story.) Personally, I don't consider it essential to a good pie; plenty of wonderful pizzas that come out of electric or gas ovens. The key (for me) is high temps, not smoke or fire.

@gaffer: rust is a potential problem, I suppose, but the clay exterior will wash away sooner than the barrel will rust, so most ovens are kept out of the rain with roofs or tarps when not in use.

Introducing 'Ask Paulie'

Whoa! Great get, Meredith. As someone who had to turn down an offer to do a column like this for Slice (conflict of interest with my other gig), I can say without reservation Paulie is a way better man for the job. I can't wait to follow along, and maybe ask a question or three of my own.

Provincetown, Massachusetts: Spiritus Pizza


Thanks for having my back. Perhaps @mimolette is correct, though, in that the photos convey more than my words actually did. I should have added that it is a crazy, raucous scene, obviously loads of fun for everyone there. I'm not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that), but I know a good party when I see one.


Maybe the caliber of restos in Ptown is better than in most other seaside resorts, but that doesn't mean they are inherently great. I stand by my assertion that most are mediocre, and that given the concentration of places, there should be more great ones than there are.

Provincetown, Massachusetts: Spiritus Pizza

@nycpunk1: My bad. I actually knew that, since I've been in bars in Boston & Cambridge plenty of times until 2. But even that is lame. Anyway, I just wanted to get a reference to the Puritans in a post about Provincetown, where they first ran aground.

@scottroberts: I think that rule is suspended in most beachside communities. Some of those dudes were probably barefoot too.

Ed's Cosmic Pizza Blab: On the Topic of Crust

Hear, hear! Thanks, Ed, for (yet another) great post. There are only two kinds of crust in my book: good and bad. Thick, thin, doesn't matter, so long as it's well executed.

Except cracker-style pizza, that's no good. But then it's not bread we're talking about, it's crackers.

The Kneading Conference 2011

@adam: Too cramped for regular use (mine is 5 times that size, and still too small), but big enough to cook a small (10" or so) pie, or a single loaf of bread.

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