Riding the Green Line along Huntington Avenue, past Northeastern, past the MFA, and out toward Brigham Circle, you can see the giant slice of pizza hanging from the ceiling of recently opened Pigís Pizza. And inside this new pizza place, sitting on a high stool at the counter along the window, you can watch the faces on the E train looking in at you ó enviously and hungry-eyed ó as you enjoy another bite of one of Pigís 14 pizza varieties.
For Dermot OíNeill, owner of the neighboring pub, the Squealing Pig, opening a pizza place was an obvious next step. Pigís Pizza " was a natural progression from the Squealing Pig, " he says. " Thereís plenty of people around, and itís a great location. " And heís right. The neighborhood teems with students ó Harvard School of Public Health, MassArt, and Northeastern are all within walking distance ó the medical mini-metropolis is right around the corner, and a general smattering of Mission Hill denizens are here, too. " Plus, " OíNeill explains, " we couldnít get pizza ovens into the Squealing Pig. "
The resulting piglet ainít no cheese-and-pepperoni operation (although the shop does have that). Pigís uses the freshest ingredients to create some " Pigzotic combinations, " the menu announces. If by " Pigzotic, " the menu means exotic, itís right: the flavor combinations are adventurous and atypical of traditional pies. The " Pimento " ($11.95/large; $9.95/medium), for example, combines roasted red peppers, sweet red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, and goat cheese in a colorful and veggie-based blast of flavors. And if by " Pigzotic, " it means of or related to pig products, then yep, thatís available, too. The eponymous pie squeals with bacon, ham, meatballs, braised pork shoulder, sausage, potato, hot cherry peppers, caramelized onions, and cabbage ($16.95/$14.95). Oink.
" Nothing comes from a can, " says OíNeill, " nothingís frozen. " And thatís especially apparent with the " Seasonal " ($11.95/$9.95). Smooth and sweet roasted butternut squash replaces traditional pizza sauce, and is topped with goat cheese, fried sage leaves, and braised leeks. The " Blanco " ($10.95/$8.95) likewise reinterprets the pizza equation, substituting arugula-basil pesto for sauce. Whole cloves of sweet roasted garlic come on top, resulting in a flavor combination thatís as potent and robust as the county fairís prize swine. And thatís a good thing.
Itís a signal that Mission Hill is well on its way down the path to gentrification when you can get pizza with goat cheese or, in the case of the " Duck Confit " ($14.95/$12.95), slow-cooked duck leg. But with ingredients so fresh, flavors so compelling, and prices so reasonable, we canít imagine even the most stalwart Mission Hill traditionalists shaking their fists as they ride past on the T.
Pigís Pizza also will soon be a fully operational juice bar, with around 25 fresh juices and smoothies. So when youíre finished with a slice of the " Bird " ($12.95/$10.95), replete with chicken thighs, barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, and three cheeses, you can wash it down with some wheat grass. A balanced meal if ever there was one.
Pigís Pizza, located at the corner of Huntington Avenue and Smith Street, in Mission Hill, is open Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to around 11:30 p.m., and on Sunday, until 10 p.m. Call (617) 277-7161.