By Ann Needle
The cliché “it’s too hot to cook” was quite likely heard last week in a lot of kitchens. With August yet to go, residents may be looking for new ideas for shutting off the oven and giving yourselves one less thing to sweat over.
In the coming weeks, the Independent will spotlight take-out spots for pizza that are a bit unexpected. Pizza is often the choice – easily served with minimum clean-up — when it gets too hot even to grill. For the lucky among you, it’s possible to easily balance a slice AND stay on your rubber float in the pool.
The first stop on this savory tour is a place many may have seen while driving through Maynard- Roasted Peppers, known as a gourmet-leaning, lunch-style place that caters to the high-tech crowd across the street in the Mill. What you may not know is that they are open for dinner and they serve pizza.
Last time I checked, tech folk can be fussy eaters (seriously), so Roasted Peppers’ 7-year survival record, in a retail spot with a high turnover record, warrants some attention. It also appears quiet, with limited seating, not something that screams to foot traffic. It closes between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – siesta lives! – opening back up for dinner until 9pm.
The pizza selection here is divided between “red sauce” and “white sauce” offerings. For our family’s test run we chose two red (Margherita and Melanzana) and the white sauce Buffalo Bill.
One of the kids termed it, “The best pizza I’ve ever had.”
“Best” is a relative thing, of course, but these pies sure were tasty. Before venturing into particulars, note that you will not need to blot any grease off with a napkin! While I (still) hold that a sheen of oil on top of the pie does not necessarily ruin the taste—we all know how to operate a napkin—some friends are seriously horrified by the shining. Each pizza had a reasonable amount of its red or white sauce, and plenty of (not too much) mozzarella. And these large-sized pizzas were definitely generous; they also come in medium.
Let’s start with the white Buffalo Bill, interspersed with tender chicken bits glazed in buffalo sauce, along with bacon and blue cheese. This is the first buffalo chicken-type pizza I’ve had that was not oozing liquid of some sort. And, despite that, it tasted creamy, but darned if I could figure out where the cream was. I tried to flip over the mozzarella for a peek, but the family commanded I stop playing with my food.
The Margherita was your standard, red-sauce offering, with the red sauce and mozzarella highlighted by oregano and garlic. Pleasantly, neither of these spices smothered anything else. For folks whose children eat only plain plain PLAIN, there’s the Cheese pizza- same thing as the Margherita, minus the oregano and garlic.
With the Melanzana came eggplant, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions. This also promoted the most raves, though I could not pinpoint a reason. It was wonderful.
One big advantage of Roasted Peppers over a more straight-shooting pizza place is the sheer variety of other foods offered for those not wanting pizza. The restaurant is also open for breakfast, offering omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes. (Caution: A Buffalo Bill may not go down so easy that early in the day.)
Hot on the Internet reviews are the many Panini sandwiches, along with the antipasto salad. And there are pasta dishes beyond spaghetti and meatballs, of course. The only grumble that popped up here and there was over the lack of “stuff” on the pizzas, in the sandwiches, wherever. It’s often a matter of taste and personally, I felt pretty fed, and that nothing was bland. Please, especially you pool owners, remember that too many loose parts on the pie could translate into meat in the water, a cosmetically upsetting sight.
If you do find yourself cottoning to the Roasted Peppers menu, other raves have been offered for their catering. Think about it: If you’re throwing a summer bash, why sweat it?