Let's talk about pizza for a bit—that indispensable element at slumber parties, college cram sessions, and weekday office lunches. Thin-crust, deep-dish, wood-fired, extra cheese; you name it, you can find it. One might find a hundred different pizzas on one city block, but all of us keep a mental note of our favorite topping combinations (mine is sausage with black olives and mushrooms) to fall back on, ready to roll off the tongue when the swarthy, stubble-cheeked pizza guy frowns at us for taking too long to order.
Though Boston might not have the pizza definitude of, say, New York, or Chicago, we know what we like, and we have some dang fine pies to our name. Which brings me to on Beacon Street, where the 'oven' in the restaurant's name is a Wood Stone model, churning out pizzas from a fire that burns close to a thousand degrees Farenheit. The benefit of that heat appears in the crust: a high baking temperature produces a crispier crust and more even cooking. Jimmy's crust is substantial enough to hold all the toppings, but not so thick that it overshadows the toppings. And, it's crispy all the way through—a rarity, even among some of the best pizza makers.
Jimmy’s pizzas boast stringy pulls of fresh mozzarella, a recent innovation by the kitchen. The Margherita, dotted with patches of ropy mozzarella and sprinkled with slivers of basil, is a delight. A Pesto pizza is loaded with artichokes, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes, but light on that brilliant basil flavor we all love. Jimmy’s best seller, the Baby Arugula pizza, heaps fresh baby arugula over mushrooms and quarter-sized pieces of thick-cut prosciutto. It’s a winning combination, especially with the drizzle of white truffle oil, but beware the treacherous little land mines of salt on each slice, courtesy of those ample cuts of prosciutto.
Look up from your plate for a moment and you’ll find a bewildering amalgamation of the trendy (think cement walls and bare light bulbs, very warehouse-chic) and the low-key, with a menu that offers unassuming salads and classic entrees like chicken parmesan. Here, you can enjoy a pizza with goat cheese, pears, figs, and arugula, even while the boys at the bar watch the game on ESPN, sucking down their seventh beer of the night. You can shout the tasting notes on your glass of Pinot over the Weezer song playing on the stereo.
But demographical confusion aside, there are some solid choices on the menu. The appetizer-sized eggplant parmesan is nice, and the calamari is pleasantly chewy, with a sauce that packs a spicy punch. An appetizer of meatballs, juicy with just a touch of basil, are cloaked in tomato sauce and served on top of a smooth potato puree. Pasta choices range from a hearty square of beef lasagna to a simple plate of cacio e pepe, a Roman dish famous for its simplicity, flavored only with hard cheese and cracked black pepper.
There are still some kinks in the service to work out, and I wasn’t smitten with all of the dishes. But sure, I could see myself at an outdoor table in the warmer months, people-watching on Beacon Street over a crispy slice. Anyone in the mood for a pizza with sausage, black olives, and mushrooms?
Jimmy's Bar and Oven is open 11:30am-10pm Sunday through Wednesday; 11:30am-11pm Thursday through Saturday. From 3pm-5pm each day service is limited to pizza and salads. 1653 Beacon Street, Brookline. MBTA: Green line (C) to Washington Square.