Bertucci's This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   If you ever have the urge to gorge yourself on Italian food, head to Cambridge. Bertucci's, a veritable Heaven-on-Earth for pasta fiends, can be found in a plethora of locations including Central and Harvard Squares and Alewife Station, (all on the Red Line of the MBTA). For those who live outside of the Cambridge area, they have restaurants in Woburn, Holliston, Brook-line, Newton, Wellesley and Boston.

I have dined at each of the Cambridge locations (and Woburn), but the restaurant at Alewife is by far the best and most interesting. Most recently, I was drawn in by the cool jazz of Anita Baker emanating from speakers situated just outside the building. The dimensions of the restaurant itself, with ceilings approximately fifteen feet high, reflect the subway station found just below. The entire restaurant is open and spacious, and the architecture and paint job are very modern. From every seat, one can view pizza being tossed expertly into the air, then thrown into the oven where the flames dance around it. At night, headlights can be seen streaking by the north wall, which is almost entirely glass. The restaurant is clean but relatively noisy, especially at peak hours when children often accompany their parents for dinner.

Bertucci's features an impressive list of both northern and southern Italian delights. You can indulge in the chicken and pesto calzone (which does not include a sauce), or the chicken and prosciutto calzone, smothered in a flavorful tomato sauce local only to southern Italy. It matters not which you choose, as they are equally delicious. Pizza, Bertucci's trademark, is cooked in brick ovens whose heat range from 700 to 900 degrees. They offer such tantilizing packages as the Sporkie, with ricotta and sausage, and the Quattro Stagione (Four Seasons), a sampler pizza featuring two slices each of the four most celebrated toppings: mushrooms, artichoke hearts, green peppers and prosciutto. They even go so far as to offer a pizza with no tomato sauce, only layers of mozzarella. All their pizza combinations cost under $11.00 for a large pie. For the die-hard traditionalist, a pizza can be built according to your own specifications.

For lighter fare, they offer a variety of green, pasta, and meat salads, and an amazing chicken vegetable chowder ($4.95 a bowl). All meals are served with hot, fresh rolls, made of the same dough as their delicious pizza. The best way to top off a feast such as this is one of Bertucci's cannolis, with your choice of plain, fudge or chocolate chip filling. A complete dinner for two, including soup, salad, pizza or entree, dessert and drinks, costs approximately $30.

When asked their specialities, the maitre d' simply told me, "Every-thing's good." Thinking this to be a bit boastful, I recently tried one of the dishes he mentioned as being particularly good: the broccoli and chicken rigatoni. I felt it was not up to par. Its contents included only four small florets of broccoli, two or three chunks of chicken, and a smattering of cream sauce with entirely too much garlic. The garlic bread, complimentary to those who choose soup or salad, is worth mentioning only because it is, at best, terrible. The shape and consistency of a frisbee with garlic powder on top, it could be considered a delicacy only by those who have not eaten in three weeks. Fortunately, these two items are the only two that should not be included on the menu. These two faults could easily go unnoticed.

Bertucci's is a casual eatery with a sense of class and style. If you are planning a romantic dinner for two, simply ask for a table towards the back. If you and eleven of your friends are celebrating a birthday, the waiters will gladly push two or three tables together to accommodate you. Every time I return, the service is fast and the food is excellent. You will not find a more relaxed, fulfilling dining experience as easily accessible as this. n




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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