Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bravo Pizzeria: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Although I dine out a lot for "work," there are very rare occasions when I meet chefs, business owners, and restaurateurs that are truly passionate, honest, and enthusiastic about who they are and what they do. Last week, I was fortunate enough to have met one such business owner and chef.

Michael Reza, owner of Bravo Pizzeria in Allston, was gracious enough to have me see his shop and try his food last Thursday evening.

Upon walking in, I noticed the pizzeria was large, spacious, and shiny with cleanliness. I was a little early for our meeting, but Reza's staff was quick to make me feel right at home, asking me if I'd like a drink or a slice of pizza while I waited for Reza. Although I declined their offers, I was more than pleased with the welcome I received.

Soon after I arrived, Reza came in - a bubbly, animated Italian man who I could tell was extremely grateful for my visit to his restaurant. After a quick greeting, Reza immediately had his staff bring me multiple, ginormous slices of pizza, including Barbecue Eggplant ($10 for a small; $15 for a large), Super Veggie ($10.50; $15.75), Sicilian ($15.25 for a 16"), Cheese ($8; $11) and Amalfi ($10.50; $15.95), named after the man (from Amalfi) who used to make Bravo's pizza sauce. The pizza itself is made with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato slices.

Reza's Italian, so he joked that he expected me to eat all of this pizza myself, but deep down, I don't think he was kidding. My appetite might be abnormally large, but my stomach unfortunately isn't. So I did the best I could - and the food didn't even stop here. But let's talk about these slices first.

The majority of ingredients used in Bravo's pizzas are natural, healthy, and fresh - pineapples are one of the few items you see from a can in this restaurant. Even the crust is made without eggs, and the mozzarella is sliced right on the premises. Bravo is also one of the rare shops in the Boston area that sell Sicilian-style pizza, which maintained a delightfully crispy, airy crust and held a salty, garlic-y flavor compared to the thin crust cheese pizza, which was slightly sweeter with little garlic taste. The Barbecue Eggplant was innovative and delicious, and is the perfect alternative to Hawaiian pizza for vegetarians. Topped with thinly sliced, breaded eggplant coated in barbecue sauce with large chunks of pineapple, this slice was nothing epic, but certainly delicious and unique, in a good way.

As Reza and I chatted, and I gorged on pizza, he continued to bring me samples of his food that he is clearly so passionate about. Reza even told me that his rule for the pizzeria is that if it's not clean enough or if the food's not good enough for his 4-year-old daughter, it's not good enough for anybody. Another thing I should mention: As we sat and talked, every single customer that walked in knew Reza, and Reza knew them all by name. 

In addition to the pizza, Reza proceeded to bring me out samples of his fresh, shredded chicken and tuna salads, his homemade meatballs, and his marinated chicken (marinated in a top secret recipe), which were all obviously fresh and much more flavorful than what you can get in a "regular" pizza shop. However, one other slice of pizza Reza brought out ended up being my favorite of the evening - Bravo's Chicken Pesto ($11.50; $16.95), topped with Reza's homemade pesto, chunks of breaded chicken, broccoli and diced tomato. 

Thick, airy crust smothered in cheese and perfectly oily, basil pesto. This slice was seriously addicting. Although I was well past the point of reaching my stomach capacity, I could have easily eaten this whole slice - but forced myself not to.

As the night went on, Reza and I continued to talk about his passion for pizza, for his restaurant, and for the customers that eat there - some of them who eat there multiple times every single day of the week. The fact that everybody seemed to know each other, and definitely knew Reza, proved to me that this is a quality neighborhood restaurant - which is, unfortunately, very hard to come by these days. 

A few nights after my initial visit with Reza, Z and I stopped in for a slice after grabbing some beers at Sunset Grill and Tap. The place was packed, and Reza was eager to greet us and chat with us, winning Z over, too, with his friendliness and his food. Z plans to bring his father there for a slice in the near future, and I plan to bring anyone that will come with me. Bravo Pizzeria is truly a place worth visiting.

Disclaimer: I was fortunate enough to try Bravo Pizzeria's food thanks to the generosity of Reza and his staff. Despite their hospitality, all opinions expressed in this post are 100 percent honest and my own.

Have you been to Bravo Pizzeria? If yes, what's your review?

Bravo Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


  1. I haven't been here but this place sounds interesting! I'd have to use crushed red pepper flakes though but I'm willing to sneak it in like contraband!

  2. sounds so good! Wish i didn't live so far away!

  3. The eggplant pizza sounds good, never would've thought to combine eggplant and pineapple! I'm always up for a new pizza place, I'll have to check this out!

  4. Michelle - so funny about the red pepper flakes!
    Melissa - I highly recommend you try the eggplant and pineapple pizza. It's surprisingly light, and really tasty!

  5. Best cheese slices in Allston by far . . .