First Bite: Posto

Davis Square's newest pizza joint gets better by the day.

Photograph by Michael Piazza

Photograph by Michael Piazza

MUCH HAS BEEN MADE OF POSTO’S location just outside Davis Square, a site that’s said to be doomed. Four restaurants have opened and closed there in the past five years, and to hear the prior owners talk about the lack of foot traffic, you’d think it was set in a back alley off McGrath Highway rather than five blocks from the T.

But Posto isn’t letting the past stand in its way. The “modern enoteca” serves up wood-fired pizza as well as pasta, and emphasizes the virtues of great ingredients prepared simply. In other words, it’s truly Italian. It also manages to be relaxed and sophisticated, and speaks to the local/seasonal/aren’t-we-exceptional ethos of its neighborhood.

An early visit was a downer, however. While the room was lovely – bright, airy, and modern-rustic in a California way – the food was uneven. Tasty meatballs cheered us, but a goopy fava salad was weighed down by too much feta. A roast-pork pizza went bland with too much ricotta. But the ideas were good, the raw materials were good, and something told us the place just needed a little more time.

Thank heaven we went back for seconds.

On the next visit, we found pizzas with some of the best crust in the city: chewy, crisp, and nicely charred. And the toppings had come into balance: a meaty soppressata pie got a boost from pickled peppers, fresh mozzarella, and oregano, and the crispy prosciutto pie paired salty ham with arugula, Gorgonzola, and port syrup. Owner Joe Cassinelli, who previously ran the kitchens at L’Andana and Stella, has a sure hand with pasta, and his veal-and-chard-stuffed agnolotti was superb. Even the cannoli were terrific: the shells crisp but not greasy, the filling delightfully creamy.

There were still a few misses, though: a grilled octopus salad that was served too cold, a ho-hum crab tortellini dish. But given the place’s trajectory, they’ll likely improve. Less certain is whether locals will accept the prices: $13 to $19 for personal pizzas, and $2.50 for homemade bread.

Still, Posto is getting plenty of things right. And if can’t succeed here, it’s time for the building to be turned into a parking lot.

187 Elm St., Somerville, 617-625-0600,