Somerville has developed from being a mere neighborhood of the Charleston sub-district of Boston to become a city in its own right. It's an evolution that has taken almost four hundred years and began when a European pioneer decided to settle on a promising plot of land known as the Charleston Neck. The trader was followed by farmers who found the surrounding terrain ideal for raising cattle, and by the mid-1700s a town-like community where they could hold a market to sell their produce had begun to take shape.
Aside from cattle farming, another profitable business in Somerville was brickmaking, and it was one that required a hefty number of workers. As transport links improved, more industries relocated to Somerville offering employment to those willing to relocate from Boston. After finding themselves at home in the swiftly growing town, some Italians had the opportunity to change their job description from factory employee to restaurant owner and when pizza appeared on their menus, it soon became a firm favorite.
Many of the Italian migrants that resettled in Somerville were or are descendants of families from Rome and Naples. It's an area of the country which bakes a distinct kind of pizza and the one which Somerville has become known for over the years – Neapolitan-style pizza.
Neapolitan-style pizza, often called Naples-style, is a rustic, medium-thick crust pizza with a lot of flavor. The basic recipe for this type of pie is a part of Italian culture and should be baked according to some strict rules. That doesn't always happen though, and many chefs like to prepare their pizzas with a little added flair that demonstrates their own culinary creativity. The basics will be the same though: a good homemade dough made from quality wheat flour, sauce made from fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. On a Neapolitan-style anything else, including decorative basil leaves, is an extra.
Just because a pizzeria doesn't have an Italian name doesn't mean they can't make pizza. If you want the best delivery pizza in Somerville, try one from Dragon Pizza. This pizzeria on the corner of Elm Street is in a brick building that is slightly tired-looking externally but as fresh, modern, and spacious inside as a subway station. The bright white floor, wall and ceiling tiling, and the white furniture give the premises an overall clinical look, kitchen included, that’s clean and appealing. Dragon Pizza's pies are as appealing as their pristine décor and are an unusual type of fusion between traditional Italian and Asian cuisine. If you find Kung Pao chicken braised Szechuan-style then loaded onto dough and topped with mozzarella and peanuts interesting, then Dragon's house special is for you. If not, you can always choose something a little more classic like a Margherita or a Pepperoni pie.
When you're out and about and want to pick up the best take-out pizza in Somerville for your lunch or supper, drop in at Alfredo's Italian Kitchen. Alfredo's is a family-owned and run restaurant on Broadway who are expert dough bakers and they do it true Italian style. When you walk into Alfredo's to grab a pie, you may well consider turning around and walking straight out, but don't. You'd be missing out big time if you did. While Alfredo's premises may look brown, boringly bland, and definitely on the jaded side, their pizzas are the complete opposite. Whatever type of pizza you order from Alfredo's will be a total delight. They make a great thin crust and will stretch it out for you to New York-style size if that's what you enjoy. The best of their range though is the Mama Maria and the Shrimp Scampi.
The city of Cambridge borders Somerville to the south-west so you won't have far to go from one to the other to make the most of its great cultural offerings. Have a browse around the Harvard Museum of Natural History or the Longfellow's House National Historic Site before picking up a pie from Armando's Pizza on Huron Avenue for a picnic by the side of the Charles River where it flows through the Christian A Herter Park.
Boston is one place you really can't miss exploring if you're living in or visiting Somerville. It's the capital of Massachusetts and has a history that dates back to the early 17th century when the Pilgrim Fathers arrived from its namesake town in the UK. After a visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum on the harbor, take a look around the New England Aquarium or continue delving into the past by taking a ride around the city on the hop-on-hop-off tourist bus. End the day with a pie at Santarpio's Pizza on Chelsea Street while you plan what to do the next time you visit.
Head west ten miles from Somerville and you'll find yourself in Lexington and well away from sprawling urbanizations. Lexington was a historic battle site, and even if you're not interested in military history, you'll want to explore the Minute Man National Park for its scenic countryside. The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum isn’t far away and worth a look around too. When you've seen the giant artworks there, stop off for a pizza at The Upper Crust Pizzeria on Waltham Street.
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