Area Four Boston (and Its Haute Bar) Opens Tonight in the South End
The Kendall Square mainstay has expanded its wood-fired menu and elevated its bar program for the Ink Block neighborhood.
If your Friday night calls for chewy slices of pizza, a creative cocktail or a few, and a soundtrack of classic ’90s hip hop, check out the South End’s newest restaurant. Area Four Boston opens the doors tonight at 5 p.m.
Located in the shiny, new Troy apartments, Area Four Boston is a more upscale take on partners Michael Krupp and Jeff Pond’s Kendall Square go-to. Chef Pond’s Neapolitan-by-New-Haven pies are made with a flavorful, 14-year-old sourdough starter, topped with house-made mozzarella and seasonal add-ons, and charred quickly in a wood-fired oven. The original launched in Cambridge in 2011, and A4, the Somerville outpost, shuttered last fall.
While the Boston location has its own, custom-built Maine Wood Heat oven, and favorite pizzas like Wellfleet clam and bacon, and the Carnivore are on the menu, it’s not a cookie-cutter copy of Area Four. The newest restaurant expands the wood-fired menu with more vegetable, meat, and seafood options, and it has a chic and playful new bar program. Unlike Kendall Square, Area Four Boston does not have a café and bakery.
Besides pies, Pond and Area Four Boston chef de cuisine Mike Andolina (A4 Pizza) created a menu small plates like pork belly with sesame-fried whole grains, duck egg carbonara, Brussels sprouts and kale salad, tapas-style nut-buttered beets, and other contemporary fare to accompany a pizza party, or to make a meal on its own.
Augusto Lino, formerly a bartender at Hungry Mother, and Dan Lynch, a cocktail bar veteran who’s shaken drinks at the Hawthorne, Blue Dragoon, Yvonne’s, and others, are behind the creative bar program. In addition to 14, mostly local draft beers, and more than 30 wines by-the-bottle, there is a seasonal cocktail menu that plays off the flavors coming out of the open kitchen.
“I really like what [the chefs are] doing,” Lynch says. “They have lots of good relationships with local farmers, and they’re bringing in cool produce, and I get jealous sometimes,” he jokes.
So back- and front-of-house will share: On the opening cocktail list, there’s a Squash “Squash” Swizzle, which uses a squash (a British word for a concentrated syrup) made with local butternut, plus rum, lemon, and a warm spice blend. One of two draft cocktails is the Shrubbery, a gin drink with a seasonal drinking vinegar. The debut menu features a hardy, New England cranberry shrub.
The beer and wine programs also riff on what’s coming out of the kitchen. For example, Lynch is excited to feature a limited amount of Idle Hands Craft Ales fifth anniversary brew, Wood. The smoky rauchbier is tasty, local, and embraces the same smoky flavors of Area Four’s menu, he says.
The custom-built oven is made with clay from the Rhone Valley in France, the same region as an “inky, meaty, rich” Syrah on his by-the-glass list. One of the whites uses Italian pecorino grapes, which have nothing to do with the cheese of the same name that’s grated onto many of Area Four’s pizzas and plates, but is a fun connection and shows the whimsy Lynch is going for, he says.
Boston architecture firm Schwartz/Silver led the design, which trends mid-century modern. The dining area is bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows and fiery colors on white, reminiscent of the wood-fired fare. The copper-domed oven is visible in the kitchen.
Krupp, a noted collector, shared a wood sculpture by artist Jason Middlebrook and other pieces from his family’s personal collection. Krupp is also lending his record collection to Area Four Boston. The moody bar area has a two-turntable Pioneer record player and a stash of ’90s hip hop albums, along with an art installation of 1960s TVs, and laser-projected video art.
“We see a lot of commonalities between Kendall and the Ink Block, and we are going to do everything we can to become the neighborhood restaurant for this exciting part of the city,” Krupp says in a press release.
Area Four Boston is open nightly for dinner from 5-11 p.m., with drinks until 2 a.m.
Next up for the restaurateur: Krupp is lending his design sensibility and his team’s drink program savvy to Roxy’s A4cade, an vintagey arcade and speakeasy bar, with a menu by Roxy’s Grilled Cheese partner James DiSabatino, opening near MIT later this year.
Area Four Boston, Troy Boston, 264 East Berkeley St., South End, 857-317-4805, areafour.com.