Monday, August 18, 2008

What's the deal with all the pizza, anyway?

I can't help but notice a singular lack of creative thinking going into new businesses downtown.

Two pizza places ... a flower shop going in across from a flower shop. At this rate, the old Newburyport Lighting space will become a laundromat.

While I think people will (and do) travel to Newburyport to dine at Oregano, who's going to come here for the Upper Crust? Well, there doesn't seem to be one north of Salem (and still in MA), so maybe if you build it, they will come.

But why not something new and different, like a barbeque place (I long for a place like Redbones), or Ethiopian (I miss the place we used to go to in Boston's south end). How about a Greek restaurant? Opa!

We now need another Irish place, and one that serves (Irish) breakfast on weekends, thankyouverymuch.

But I think the space is too small to fit these suggestions. Upper Crust seems to like small spaces. Mixed bag of reviews on line. Bags of flour that rats were into?


mary said...

I agree with you. We also don't need another bar & grill-type place. I would LOVE some sort of BBQ place as well as a great Italian restaurant (or, does Bottega Toscana fit the bill? I haven't been there yet.) I love your Greek restaurant idea, too.

Gillian Swart said...

Bottega Toscana; wow, I haven't been there since I worked downtown.

Is it still cafeteria-style? (I'm asking other people since you state you haven't been there yet.)

Someone noted the other day that there wasn't a real seafood place in town, which is kind of odd. Something along the lines of Jumpin' Jays in Portsmouth would do.

Or the previousl lusted after standard, Legal Sea foods.

sds said...


bottega has changed a bit. the deli counter is gone and now table service.

its also up for sale. given what they paid for it from the train guys, it must be hard to run.

and oregano is going to eat their lunch (or more importantly their dinner).

not quite sure about the whole seafood comment. i like legal and all but whats missing from our present crew.

a newburyport ithaki would be great though.

the whole point of upper crust though is good pizza and with slices for sale. their menu has a great 1 slice & salad option that looks perfect for lunch.

i've not heard though if they are getting a liquor license though.

hopefully otherwise its tough to stay in business.

Ari Herzog said...

You are doing businesses a huge disservice, Gillian, by comparing pizza place to pizza place.

For instance, Oregano's shines on sit-down table service, doesn't offer slices, and has a full bar. When the idea was initially picked, Elias wanted to open a restaurant to offer pizza and a beer. Until then, it was not a downtown option.

Pizza Factory II is comparable to Famous Pizza, offering slices, salads, subs, and sandwiches and caters to the pick-up and delivery clientele. More kids hang out at these places too, for more affordable prices.

And the Upper Crust, like sds mentioned, will differentiate from all of the above by offering limited slices (like Sal's Pizza) but more gourmet in nature (like Flatbread) and catering to eat-in, pick-up, and delivery.

I've never understood Greta's Great Grains across the street from Caffe di Sienna, but again, both serve different clientele due to their product offerings; Caffe doesn't offer bread and Greta doesn't have the tables.

And please stop referencing Redbones. Poor, poor analogy. The Blue Ribbon in Arlington is highly superior. (I also like the American BBQ in nearby Rowley, too.)

Gillian Swart said...

Hi sds,

Train guys? They were only ever slightly above average, as far as I was concerned (but the train guys might have still owned it then).

As for seafood, we don't have anywhere, except Bob Lobster, that serves only seafood. It was just a thought.

I like your idea of our own Ithaki better.

I have to confess, I've never been to The Upper Crust (as far as I remember), so I'll reserve further comment until I do. Thanks!

Gillian Swart said...


To me, they're all pizza places (I've declared repeatedly that I'm not that much of a pizza fan)! I agree that Oregano is a different animal.

I've never tried (or even heard of) The Blue Ribbon. I like American Barbeque OK, but I prefer Redbones. I don't especially like that American just pours BBQ sauce over the chicken rather than cooking it with it on.

I once interviewed Greta and the woman who owns Caffe di Sienna. I think the latter had to sort of reinvent the business (staying open later, having music) to be different, although the ambience between the 2 is completely different.

I am also reminded that 'they' let Soak go in right across from Body Sense (both buildings owned by same people).

But both seem to be thriving, so I guess it wasn't a bad move.