As most Bostonians know, Route 1 in Saugus is a near-legendary stretch of road, with all kinds of cheesy, tacky spots lining both sides of the highway. And among all the no-tell motels, miniature golf courses, ice cream stands, and gas stations are a number of restaurants, many of which are famous for their kitschiness (a couple of examples are Kowloon and the Hilltop Steak House). With this in mind, a place with the name "Angela's Coal-Fired Pizza" might also produce images of a charming yet tacky roadside joint that only Route 1 could be home to. Yet while Angela's is indeed located on the same highway as Kowloon and Hilltop, it is anything but cheesy (except for the pizza toppings, of course). Instead, it is a sleek, modern, and (dare we say it) almost trendy and upscale kind of place that just happens to feature pizza, chicken wings, and, well, little else.
The rather plain exterior of Angela's Coal-Fired Pizza hides a surprisingly classy and attractive interior that includes a spacious dining area with a bar in the middle, another dining section a few steps up to the right, and not one, but two coal ovens tucked away in the left corner near the entrance (one oven is for the pizzas, and the other is for chicken wings). Both dining rooms are on the dark side, and the combination of a hard tile floor and a high ceiling make the place just a bit noisy, depending on how crowded it is.
As mentioned earlier, the menu at Angela's is very limited, with salads, pizza, chicken wings, and desserts (which change monthly) offered, as well as beer and wine. The wings aren't the best in the Boston area, but they are decent enough, with a nice bit of char on them from the coal fired oven and meat that is pretty tender. The wings come with excellent herbed focaccia bread and are smothered in soft, flavorful onions that are also cooked in the coal oven. The pizza at Angela's brings to mind classic New York-style thin crust pies, with a nice char on the somewhat dry, chewy crust, a thick and hearty tomato sauce on top of the crust, and a decent--but not overwhelming--amount of cheese on top. Toppings include deliciously salty prosciutto, earthy roasted mushrooms, spicy pepperoni, long hot peppers, smoked bacon, and coal fired onions. Specialty pies can also be ordered, such as a version with veggies and a white pizza, while monthly specials include such toppings as pesto and pineapple. The pies at Angela's aren't quite the ultra-thin, foldable slices of street pizza that you might get in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but they seem to lean in that direction, and the fact that the pizzas are coal fired give them a nice hint of smokiness.
The pizzas at Angela's aren't quite up to the level of the pies offered at Pizzeria Regina in the North End of Boston or Picco in the South End, but this Saugus dining spot really isn't far behind the best that Greater Boston has to offer. And with decent wings in addition to the pizza, plus reasonable prices, plenty of free parking, and lots of room inside, Angela's Coal Fired Pizza does have a lot going for it. It may not be your typically cheesy Route 1 restaurant, but Angela's is surely an excellent option for those who happen to be on this infamous stretch of road north of Boston.
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