What is in this article?:
- Balancing sustainability, profitability in the restaurant business
- Local ingredients top A4's pizza
Chef Michael Leviton discusses the challenges of his new restaurant, A4 Pizza.
Local ingredients top A4's pizza
How much is your pizza?
It starts at $11 and goes up to around $18.
We make our own mozzarella every day, and our own mushroom sauce, clam sauce and marinara. We make our own sausage. If I could keep up with the bacon [demand], I’d make it, but as it is we’re using Niman Ranch bacon, and they’re doing great things, both forward and back. We use a ton of local produce, a ton of local fish and shellfish.
At the end of the day the sourcing is a complex, multivariable calculus that changes a little every day. I’d love to tell you that I’m perfect, but I’ll say I’m not even close. But every day we’re getting closer to where we could make all those right decisions and keep our doors open.
We can’t make massive changes overnight. Change doesn’t happen that way. We can use our restaurants and our menus to start a conversation, and hopefully that conversation can lead to some change.
How different is A4 Pizza from Area 4?
It’s a quarter the size. In fact, we only have a half dozen tables. The rest is bar or counter seating — it’s somewhere between a pizza place and a bar.
Area 4 has a lot of glass that lends itself to one kind of look. A4 pizza is in an older building that has long been a bar or restaurant. It’s smaller, darker. We gave it a different sort of ‘workshop-y’ feel. It’s also in a different area.
Area 4 is in Cambridge, Mass., and A4 pizza’s in the next town over, in Somerville’s Union Square. How’s the new neighborhood?
Somerville seems to be quite restaurant friendly. Liquor licenses are easy to come by and rents are much lower than in Cambridge. It’s still close to Harvard, MIT and young professionals. And there are still a lot of young families living there before their inevitable move out to the suburbs.
Can you tell me more about your style of pizza?
It’s not as hot an oven as for Neapolitan pizza, so it takes about three and a half minutes to cook. The crust has the blistering that you’d find on a Neapolitan pie, but also the crispiness of a New Haven pie.
I’m also not using a ton of yeast; I use a 12-year-old starter that myde cuisine started. The dough ferments for about 30 hours. I think it has more depth of flavor that way, and if there’s a more difficult way to do something, we’re going to find it.