There are so many wonderful restaurants in the South End, but parking can make it a challenging place to eat when you have you have two hungry toddlers in the car. However, when we found ourselves in Boston a weekday morning, we took advantage of the chance to visit Picco. We had been there once...about 3 years ago and remember having great pizza. However, this new visit reminded us of what a perfect place it is for fabulous pizza and for bringing the kids.
We began with a "Garden Salad." On the menu it was listed as a plate of mesclun greens. However, what arrived was a glorious plate of mixed herbs and leafy greens.
My son who barely eats more than mac and cheese, dug in, declaring it "the best salad he has ever had!"
My husband tried small plates of two different pasta specials. Sous Chef Tony Lawrence made two versions of homemade ravioli. One was filled with sugar pumpkin and was served with browned butter.
I have had this dish many times, but this one was particularly well done, tasting of fresh pumpkin instead of an overly sweetened pie in a shell. The other was a unique combo of almonds and ricotta. My favorite twist: it was topped with small shavings of roasted cauliflower.
Together it was an absolutely addictive sweet, salty, tender combination. It was a wonderful plate.
The pizza was just as memorable. The dough is made over days, using the "slow-fermentation style" and is then baked in a custom-made incredibly hot oven.
For my son, watching the pizza bake was great entertainment while we waited. The crust is blistered on the bottom, but is also wonderfully chewy and thick. The toppings range from simple to more complex. My son ate the "Margherita" which had tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella and is pictured at the top of this post. The tomato sauce was perfectly acidic rather than being too sweet. I loved my "Alsatian" which was topped with sauteed onions, shallots, garlic, sour cream, thick slices of sweet, smoky bacon and gruyere. It was rich, textured and fabulous.
I was too full to eat dessert, instead enjoying a cup of George Howell coffee. However, my son got a bowl of chocolate ice cream, while I tried a few samples before taking home a cup of pistachio. Each ice cream is churned at Picco. Vietnamese Cinnamon created a particularly spicy twist on ice cream and would be perfect with bittersweet hot fudge. The vanilla was good, though a bit sweet for my taste. Ironically, the deep chocolate was almost too sour, even for me. However the pistachio (delightfully white rather than lime green), was nutty and well done.
Picco offers other items such as mac and cheese made with taleggio and gruyere, grilled panini and an adult ice cream sundae with Belgium Lambic poured over vanilla ice cream.
Picco isn't cheap. The large margherita was $19 and the small Alsatian was $13. However, you are paying for superior ingredients, local food and hand crafted food that tastes fantastic. It is just casual enough to bring the kids, while the food is so good, that it feels like a true treat. For us, the commute means that we may not be able to be regulars, I dare say it is my new favorite pizza.
Picco, 513 Tremont St., Boston, 617-927-0066