One of the things we like to do, as you might have seen from our Small Business Saturday post, is support local businesses. On the business side of things, our services are so all-inclusive and hand-crafted that it’s not economical for most small businesses to hire us on a monthly basis. They also don’t really need the level of management and research that we provide.
And I know it doesn’t seem fair that we write for Upserve’s Small Business Blog, research the hell out of small business marketing tactics, and don’t offer a service specifically for small businesses. While we are working on that, we also spend a lot of time exchanging an exorbitant amount of emails with small business owners who are just looking for advice. I never understood charging by the hour for things like that, anyway.
Another way that we like to support small businesses is by doing a little thing called the foodtrip. It started many years ago among friends and me, sometimes for a random day, but always for my birthday. We’d watch a bunch of Phantom Gourmet episodes and scour Yelp for a theme – like buffalo wings, doughnuts, or burgers.
Patrick has had no problem carrying on that tradition with me. It might even be one of the heart-shaped bullet points that came to mind when he asked me to marry him. In fact, whenever there’s a special occasion, there are no presents exchanged – we just take a daylong foodtrip, instead!
While Pat is still pining for a coffee cake foodtrip, we recently celebrated 11/11 by doing a pizza roadtrip, dubbed #PizzaCrawl on Twitter. We planned by watching an episode of Phantom Gourmet and choosing the restaurants that made us drool and made the most sense as a roadtrip. We also added Espresso Pizza in Fitchburg, Mass., which in my opinion, has the best cheese pizza anywhere.
Espresso Pizza, Fitchburg
Their cheese pizza is, by far, the best I’ve ever had. Sure, I grew up with it, but I still haven’t loved a slice more than one that comes from the pizza ovens at Espresso’s.
They have a sweet sauce. Some say the secret ingredient is orange soda, some say it’s Tang. But that’s not all, they also have an airy, powdery crust that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. To mix things up, Pat got their Taco Pizza, which is also remarkable!
And the people-watching … well, if you’re bold enough to brave Main Street in Fitchburg, then you’re in for a treat. Especially if you visit on a Friday night.
Espresso Pizza is located at 584 Main St. in Fitchburg, Mass.
Corner Grille, Worcester
Next stop on the #PizzaCrawl was Corner Grille. Dan Andelman told us that their Harvest Moon pizza was the shizzy, and he was not kidding.
Brown sugar / roasted butternut squash / caramelized onion / sausage / toasted pumpkin seeds / cheese / brown butter drizzle
This pizza was thin-crusted, cut appropriately, and was the most uniquely delicious slice we had the whole trip. We also loved the “Ice tea for two,” served in a mason jar that you can share. Oh, and the pastries! The whoopie pies!!
It’s a small restaurant, so we saw a lot of people getting takeout, but we were able to squeeze into a couple of seats at the community tables and snuggle up with our slices and giant mason jars of addictive, sugary iced tea.
Corner Grille is located at 806 Pleasant St. in Worcester, Mass.
The third stop on our pizza roadtrip was Otto, which has locations elsewhere, but we went to the one in Harvard Square because it was near other things to do while our stomachs got un-full. Unlike the first two places, Otto serves by the slice, so we opted to get two different ones.
I was bummed that they were sold out of the two we came in for (Tortellini and Squash) but I ended up getting the Pulled Pork & Mango while Pat got the Sausage and Vidalia Onion.
The red sauce was zesty and delicious, and while the quick-heat method of serving slices in a touristy area is charming, I’d really love to sit down with a fresh hot pie. Maybe their Portland location has seating?
If not, that’s fine, too: The creations here were really unique, and it was nice to just order a single slice.
Otto is located at 1432 Mass Ave. in Cambridge, Mass.
All-Star Pizza Bar, Cambridge
After a nice break in Harvard Square, we took a drive over to Inman Square, which by the way, has an awesome spice shop worth checking out.
We went to All Star Pizza Bar with one slice in mind: The Red Head.
Marinara sauce / house blend cheese / herb roasted red bliss potatoes / shaved steak / applewood smoked bacon / caramelized onions / horseradish cream sauce
This pizza tastes like a home-cooked meal, neatly arranged on some dough. You’ve got your steak, your mashed potatoes, your bacon, sauce and cheese. Then, it’s got a horseradish cream sauce drizzled over the entire masterpiece. The only thing that could have made it better is a vat of BBQ sauce to dip it in.
All-Star Pizza Bar is located at 1238 Cambridge St. in Cambridge, Mass.
Monte’s Restaurant, Lynn
Next stop on the #PizzaCrawl was Monte’s Restaurant and has been dubbed “the best cheese pizza on the North Shore”. What made me want to try this place out is the fact that people actually get relatives to freeze and ship these pizzas to them when they move away. They’re super proud of their secret sauce and cheese combo and the whole story made me feel like I’d really be missing out if we didn’t stop by here.
Our pizzas are definitely unique because it’s a special blend of cheeses I can’t tell you what that special blend is because everyone would start using it because its has a lot of taste to it. It’s not a lot of stringy mozzarella. It’s a high quality good tasting pizza. – Michele Landry, Manager, Monte’s Restaurant
The cheese pizza was great, and this might have been Patrick’s favorite slice. The pizza, similar to bar pizza, came out raging hot and ready to burn the roof of your mouth if you’re not careful. It’s thin crust and nothing fancy, but they definitely have an age-old, tried and true recipe. Their Italian dressing, which people apparently like to drink out of a cup, is damn good, too, so we brought home a bottle of it!
Monte’s Restaurant is located at 141 Eastern Ave. in Lynn, Mass.
Easy Pie, Braintree
Melted Nutella, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Marshmallows, put back in the oven, it gets baked, til it’s a huge mound of marshmallow and chocolate. When it comes out we finish it with powdered sugar and some caramel. … It tastes like an actual Smore.”
This was a rad dessert pizza. It’s like a big piece of fried dough topped with melty chocolately and marshmallowy goodness, plus the added crunchy texture of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I think this is appropriate opportunity to use this adjective: Amazeballs.
Easy Pie is located at 1701 Washington St. in Braintree, Mass.
On this pizza roadtrip, we missed La Festa in Dover, N.H., for their garlic knot pizza, but did hit it up last weekend. We also wanted to add Palace Pizza in Worcester, Mass., for their amazing BBQ Chicken Pizza (it has garlic cream cheese on it!), but they were closed for Veteran’s Day. We’ve since been by to grab a slice, though. Again … amazeballs.
So, if you ever wondered how a person can eat so much in one day, I’ve learned a few tricks to a proper foodtrip:
- Plan ahead: Choose what you’re going to order before you get there – trust me on this. It took us about six hours to plan this trip, and that’s pretty typical.
- Create time: When you’re planning, include in-between activities for places that are near each other so that you don’t get full too fast. I’ve painted pottery, gone for a walk down the Charles River in Boston, even gotten a 20-minute foot massage in San Francisco.
- Start empty: Don’t eat breakfast, or eat something light. Something about eating breakfast makes you full for half the day.
- Start early: Five slices of pizza in an entire day isn’t that much for a whole day. Five slices in a couple of hours might be. You’d be surprised at how full you get when you leave room in between each slice!
- Order small: Only order what you came in for – and eat one serving. For pizza, that’s ONE slice. For a burger, that might be half a burger, or a burger and no fries (unless those are part of the trip … like the garlic and Parmesan fries at the Ivy Tavern in Providence – yum!).