It’s one of those beautiful spring nights in Boston when the city looks stunning and everyone in Back Bay is out: the Lululemon set with bouncy pony tails and yoga mats tucked under an arm, packs of students in outfits worth admiring, couples pushing double-wide strollers, several generations of a family pointing out all kinds of things (cars, shops, characters) in their native language. You can hardly squeeze along the sidewalk for the crowds.
We expect a wait at Scissors & Pie, the two-month-old shop on Newbury Street located a few steps down. It’s new, it’s had some buzz, the website, designed by Web superstar Paul Vinod, is stunning. Who wouldn’t circle around the block several times and then cave in and pay exorbitant parking rates to see what it’s about?
Once inside, one group is just leaving. The other tables are empty. A week later, another mild night, same crowds outside, same empty inside.
Find this place and fill those seats.
This is extraordinary Roman-style pizza, in a very friendly place. You look at a case of large rectangular pies, say how much you want, say 5 inches, and the piece is cut with scissors, then popped into a hot oven. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the pizza you want has just come out of the oven, in which case it goes right onto a board and to you.
The crust is thick. To imagine it, first you must banish any ideas of flabby thick crusts you’ve eaten elsewhere, and don’t even think about the things called “deep dish.” This crust is made and left to rise for at least 72 hours and it has more flavor that any dough you’ve had. It’s chewy, airy, extremely flavorful, and fully cooked.
Why, you might be wondering, would I mention that the crust here is fully cooked? Because elsewhere it almost never is! Even thin-crusted Neapolitan-style crusts aren’t cooked through, and the point where the toppings hit the dough is often a sog-fest. Scissors & Pie crust still tastes great if you take pizza home and reheat it yourself (in a cast-iron skillet first, then in the oven, as many Italian-Americans do).
A pie with prosciutto cotto (cooked prosciutto, rather than the thin cured slices you might drape over melon), and fresh mozzarella is topped with thinly sliced roast potatoes, a little fresh rosemary, deliciously spicy pink peppercorns, and a drizzle of herb-infused oil. If your preference for thin crusts gets in the way of your coming here, the potato pizza will change your mind. It will also make you wonder why no one has figured this out until now. Well they have in Rome and the style is spreading to other cities.
Margherita, with a barely cooked sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil, is a beautiful, elegant, simple slice. Another pie is made with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, pesto, and fresh arugula; this is meant to be eaten at room temperature and lusciously fresh with the red orbs, cheese, and peppery greens. Sausage and broccoli has juicy nubbins of spicy ground meat, with regular broccoli (but where is the broccoli rabe?). Prosciutto and mushrooms has a base of the light tomato sauce with mozzarella and portobellos.
Part of the team behind Scissors & Pie are Mitchell and Lisa DeRosa. He has been in the hair business for 30 years, running Mitchell John Salon on Broad Street in Boston, and working with the group who developed Living Proof hair products with Jennifer Aniston. In that group was scientist David Puerta, who is part of the pizza project and brought his lab expertise to developing the crust with a blend of imported flours. Other Massachusetts-based partners are Robert Contrada, pizza maker Marco Storini (this guy could be in a film), and architect Jonathan Levi. Levi put in the 25 seats at tables that are on a track, so you can come in with a group and push a few together.
Read the Scissors & Pie website, with the tagline “Pizza made like it matters,” and it’s easy to think they’re arrogant. “Pizza has lost its way. Perhaps, it’s [sic] soul as well,” it reads. “What happened on its journey from Italy to America?” It goes on to say, “It’s time to right that wrong.”
The place needs more customers to do what they do in Rome: sell you pizza right out of the oven, so nothing is reheated. That would mean a line out the door.
Any minute now.