Atmosphere goes a long way at Revere pizzeria
Renzo Brick Oven Pizzeria in Revere has floor-to-ceiling windows facing Revere Beach, and the menu offers wood-fired pizza. With a bar serving beer, wine, and cocktails, and live entertainment Thursday through Sunday, you could make a full night of it.
On a dark, chilly evening, the warmth from the wood oven provides respite from the cold. But the restaurant, opened in 2008 by Jack Gateman, is a bit confusing at first. You wonder if it’s a family restaurant or a bar. Kids run around the ankles of ambivalent bar patrons. Many diners look like they’re having a romantic night out, but then a vocal band called the Legendary Voices starts and the mood shifts considerably.
Yet, somehow it works. With the fabulous views, this is clearly a summer destination, but it’s a comfortable atmosphere in all seasons. We arrive when it’s busy but not too crowded to grab a window seat. We order fries ($5), onion rings ($5), and a creamy spinach and artichoke dip with warm, soft focaccia ($8). The retro dip steals the show.
Dinner arrives quickly, and two pasta dishes are the table favorites: lobster ravioli ($13) and chicken Parmesan ($14). The ravioli isn’t overpowered by seafood flavor, though it has plenty of it. The chicken Parm is perfectly cooked. Neither relies too heavily on tomato sauce, which is refreshing.
Steak tips ($15) also get rave comments, but the dish comes with a mound of fries and unannounced onion rings, making us regret having ordered those appetizers. (In addition to the incomplete menu, Renzo’s website menu barely resembles the one we receive at the table.)
Alas, the signature pizzas are underwhelming. The “RAFA’’ ($14), named for one of the chefs, which features tomatoes, spinach, onions, mushrooms, and red peppers on cheese pizza, is simultaneously over- and under-cooked, as is shrimp scampi ($15), a white pizza with shrimp and extra garlic. Both are small and thin with burnt edges, and the toppings are rubbery instead of roasted.
A banana butterscotch dessert ($8) is strange. Whipped cream is arranged in the shape of a banana, but it isn’t hiding fruit. Instead, it’s milk-chocolate fondue cake with banana puree and butterscotch. The dessert is relatively small and disappointing. The Legendary Voices are still performing, and when someone requests Sheena Easton’s “My Baby Takes the Morning Train,’’ the singer kindly gives it a shot, even though it’s clear the song is not part of her repertoire.
We return on a quiet afternoon. Only a handful of people are here, all seated at the bar. We are taken again to a window-side table, where we order chicken wings ($9), greasy, but not too heavily breaded. “Solid wings,’’ announces my dining partner.
Half a roast chicken ($14) is strongly seasoned with rosemary and comes with roast potatoes and onions, and a side of sauteed broccoli. The woodsy herb is distracting, but the potatoes are excellent. It’s a large meal for the price. The Italian three-piece ($14) is a cheese pizza topped with prosciutto cotto, prosciutto crudo, and pancetta. The pizza is quite greasy, but an improvement over the previous pies.
Even with its inconsistent food, Renzo has a certain appeal. The atmosphere is light, the staff friendly, and the location is strategic. Get a window looking out at the water and everything will taste better.
Glenn Yoder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.