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Pizza in Piazza (CLOSED)

5 Mount Vernon Street, Winchester, MA 01890
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Photo of Pizza in Piazza, Winchester, MA Restaurants and bars that are located below street level are typically, by their nature, just a little more "hidden" than other spots simply because they are that much more difficult to find. And some of these places are so invisible that even folks who work or live within walking distance of them don't even know that they exist. Such is the case with a casual and attractive pizzeria and trattoria in the town of Winchester called Pizza in Piazza. What, you've never heard of this spot? Well, you certainly aren't the only one to say this.

Pizza in Piazza is a lunch and dinner place that resides in the basement of Lucia Ristorante, a popular Italian restaurant on Mount Vernon Street in Winchester Center that also has a location in the North End of Boston. And while Pizza in Piazza is owned by the people who are behind Lucia, it is basically a separate restaurant with its own kitchen and a much different menu. The eatery has a surprisingly large dining area with arches along the outer edges, paintings of Italian scenes, and long tables that can be used for bigger groups. The low ceiling never allows you to forget that you are in a basement, and the hard tile floor can make the noise level just a tad high. The overall feel of Pizza in Piazza is that of a family-friendly spot that is a less expensive and more casual alternative to the restaurant upstairs.

The menu at Pizza in Piazza is pretty simple, with soups, salads, pizza, sandwiches, and a few Italian entrees offered. The soups here are excellent, with a couple of options (depending on the day) including a hearty minestrone soup that is loaded with vegetables and a thick lentil soup with a rich-tasting stock adding a lot of flavor. For those who like Caesar salads, the version offered at Pizza in Piazza is actually near the top of the heap from our perspective, with fresh unrefrigerated lettuce and shaved parmesan cheese mixed with a nutty tasting dressing that has tiny pieces of anchovies mixed in. Other starters include arancini served with an intensely rich homemade tomato sauce; three varieties of bruschetta; and deep-fried calamari with hot peppers.

For main entrees, pizza is certainly the focus at Pizza in Piazza, with the freshly-made dough being chewy and crunchy at the same time. The white pizzas are particularly good here, with the quattro formaggi having a perfect mix of provolone, gorgonzola, fontina, and mozzarella cheeses. For those who like panini, the Lucia's favorite (prosciutto, arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil) is decent--though the extra olive oil added might make the sandwich too messy for some--and the eggplant pamigiana panino has just the right amount of red sauce mixed in. Other entrees include a delicious lasagna made with layers of romano and mozzarella cheese, BBQ Abruzzese sausage served with veggies, and a baked homemade manicotti that has a spinach and cheese filling. Desserts are homemade as well and include panna cotta and tiramisu. Beer, wine, and liquor is offered at Pizza in Piazza, and for those who have little ones, a children's menu is available here.

Pizza in Piazza is perhaps one of the least known restaurants we have ever featured on this site (which is saying a lot, since the focus of the site is indeed little-known restaurants). It may be known to few, but the food is impressive, the atmosphere is nice, the prices are low, and it is a place that gives diners that particularly satisfying sense of discovery when they go there for the first time. Don't miss this one.