While coal-fired pizza is nearly impossible to find in the Boston area (maybe only five such spots, at most), wood-fired pizza is a bit easier to search for, including from such places as Flatbread Company in Somerville, Sophia's Grotto in Roslindale, Dogwood Cafe in Jamaica Plain, Fiorella's in Newton, Woody's in the Fenway, and a number of others. And if you look hard enough, you should be able to find some real hidden spots for wood-fired pies, with one of the least known being Arcenia's Cucina Rustica, a friendly Italian eatery in the heart of Woburn Center. The pizza here competes very nicely with the restaurants mentioned above, featuring fresh ingredients and old-world techniques to make the pies.
Woburn Center is actually full of hidden gems that for some reason don't get a lot of press, and driving up Main Street indeed gives a glimpse as to the sheer variety of under-the-radar eateries that this northern suburb of Boston has. And right in the middle of it all sits Arcenia's, with its rather plain but welcoming exterior and a cozy and quiet interior that also has a sleek and modern look to it. The dining area is a bit on the small side but does extend back a bit, allowing for a good amount of table seating (including seats by the front windows). A counter is situated along the left side with more seating there as well, though it appears to be used more for picking up takeout items, while the aforementioned wood-fired oven can be seen behind the back end of the counter. Pleasant hanging lights help make the room moderately bright, with some additional light coming from the front windows.
Arcenia's mainly features Southern Italian fare, with pasta, chicken and veal dishes, eggplant, and seafood taking up much of the menu, but its most popular item seems to be the pizza, and for good reason--the thin-crust Neapolitan pies here are something special, with the wood oven working its magic on the pies. (Thanks to the extreme heat that comes from the oven, a smoky char gets imparted onto the bottom of the crust--a must when it comes to traditional pies.) Both red and white pizzas are offered here, and both are excellent options as the red sauce is lightly spiced but has a deep flavor while the white sauce is creamy and rich. Options include a margherita pizza, which has a simple but delicious combination of basil, mozzarella, and tomato sauce with a bit of olive oil and parmesan added; a bianca pizza that comes with savory prosciutto, caramelized onions, and a very rich parmesan cream sauce; and a Siciliana, which has the same flavorful prosciutto along with roasted eggplant, arugula, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. (Diners can also opt for whatever options they like for toppings.) Arcenia's used to be a BYOB spot, but they now have a beer and wine license, offering a handful of options for each.
Not too many people have heard of Arcenia's Cucina Rustica, but that could change as more and more pizza lovers learn about the goodness of the pies made at this restaurant, which has been open since around the beginning of 2013. If you like wood-fired pizza and also love totally under-the-radar spots, Arcenia's is one place that you should definitely be checking out.
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