Metro, Food

Milk Bar and &pizza Combine Forces to Bring Sweet and Savory to Harvard Square

On Saturday, crack is coming to Boston. Well, crack pies that is. Since making the official announcement last year, Boston foodies’ mouths have been watering for the opening of the Milk Bar and &pizza in Harvard Square, and the day is finally here.

Together, they make the perfect combination. With compost cookies, cake truffles, and MilkQuakes, Milk Bar brings the sweet. And with customizable pies, &pizza brings the savory. The blend even reflects in the interior design of the space, which is dominated by bold black and white diagonal striped floors with pops of bubble gum pink.

“Think a modern take on the combined stores of the 1990s, like Baskin Robbins and Taco Bell,” said Kim DeAngelo, public relations manager of Milk Bar. “This space with our friends &pizza is truly the throwback combo store of our dreams. We are really excited.”

The partnership stemmed from the long-term friendship between the two companies’ creators. It took Michael Lastoria, co-founder and CEO of &pizza, four years to find the perfect space in Boston, and, soon after, he approached Christina Tosi—CEO of Milk Bar—with the idea to combine forces.

“Christina is incredible,” said Lastoria. “We met randomly in New York and have been close friends for a few years now.”

This is the first location in the greater Boston area for both brands, and Lastoria said that it is all about having fun.

“That’s the cool thing about it,” he added. “I think that the best partnerships start as friendships. The randomness of our brands both being quirky, off the beaten path, and fun—together, we just work.”

Founded in 2008 by Tosi, a renowned pastry chef, Milk Bar is a dessert empire and lifestyle brand known for its quirky twists on traditional sweets.

“We are not your average bakery,” said DeAngelo.

Instead of vanilla ice cream, Milk Bar offers cereal milk soft serve made from steamed cornflakes, milk, sugar, and cornflake power. To add a crunch, sprinkle cornflakes or fruity pebbles on top.

“The best way to describe it is that it tastes like the bottom of your cereal bowl,” said DeAngelo.

At first glance, every item the Milk Bar serves appears nostalgic and familiar, but they all have a modern twist. The first bite into any treat is always a surprise.

“We like to say we are familiar yet unexpected,” DeAngelo said.

This eccentricity applies to &pizza as well. Founded in 2012, Lastoria opened his first store in D.C.’s historic H Street NE corridor, and since then &pizza has expanded to 34 shops scattered across Philadelphia, New York, Miami, and now Boston.

The American Honey pizza is a customer favorite. With spicy tomato, pepperoni, arugula, gooey mozzarella, goat cheese, red pepper flakes, and hot honey, it is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.

But &pizza is not your average customizable pizza shop. It promotes purpose driven pizza, which reflects in the symbol of the company: the ampersand.

“The ampersand stands for connectedness and unity,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, head of brand at &pizza. “We really see pizza as a vehicle to bring people together. In an increasingly divided America, our brand stands for togetherness and inclusivity.”

From carefully selected food sources to an engaged hiring process, everything reflects &pizza’s core set of values.

“We are all about promoting unity,” said Lastoria.

The company employs a no ceiling policy, a competitive wage, and healthcare benefits to employees, who refer to themselves as a “tribe.” Lastoria even offers free tattoos for any worker, and even the occasional customer. When &pizza opened its first location in Baltimore in 2016, the first five people in line received a free ampersand tattoo and free pizza for a year.

Milk Bar shares a similar brand ethos, which made the pairing even more perfect.

“We’re thrilled to work with a brand who, like us, is constantly challenging the norm and looking to turn our respective industries upside down,” said Tosi, the chef, in an official press statement.

As a special tribute to Boston, Milk Bar added a new item on its menu: the Boston cream pie MilkQuake, made up of liquid cheesecake, chocolate chips, and fudge sauce.

“Cambridge and the greater Boston area represents the quirky, American style that is at Milk Bar’s core,” Tosi said. “We simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create this unique joint space in the heart of Harvard Square. Plus I can finally tell my folks I made it into Harvard.”

This is the Milk Bar’s first store close to a college campus, and Rodriguez said that this will provide a special opportunity, both for the brand and students.

“Listen, college is stressful, and there is nothing better than comfort food,” said Rodriguez.

“But also come for the environment itself,” she added. “Come to have fun, to chill, to hang out for an hour or two. Come sit with us.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Matthew Glac

January 31, 2019