Downtown Crossing’s newest spot to eat and drink, MAST’, opened to the public this Saturday. Offering wood-fired pizzas and Neapolitan fare, MAST’’s two-story location at 45 Province St. is the lovechild of owners Anthony DePinto, John DeSimone, and Marco Caputo. The name MAST’ comes from a play on the Neapolitan slang word for maestro, “o’mast,” which denotes one as the master of his or her craft.
Originally slated to open at the beginning of this year, the introduction of MAST’ has been hindered repeatedly by downtown Boston’s strict regulations. This has not hampered the owners’ spirits in the slightest, however.
Something they’re most excited to share with patrons is their pizza oven, straight from Napoli. Using a crane, the 7,000-pound oven was brought in through a side of the restaurant where a floor-to-ceiling window now stands. The pizza dough itself has been meticulously crafted to feel like authentic Neapolitan pizza, using a 12-hour process to allow the dough to raise.
The fresh ingredients combined with the tasty crust are a rare treat for Boston pizza-philes, especially given that Boston is a city in which the market for Neapolitan-style pizza is practically nonexistent. “Nothing is frozen,” general manager Nicholas Garoufalis said. “Everything we use is completely from scratch.” He added, “To me, this pizza is the perfect pizza.”
Pizza is not the only thing MAST’ has to offer. With chef Celio Pereira, formerly of Mamma Maria in the North End, on board, the menu features dishes such as King Oyster mushrooms and pappardelle topped with wild boar ragu. While admirable attempts, these dishes pale in comparison to the pizza.
Even without the food, the Downtown Crossing location is noteworthy. Its two floors are designed to differentiate the restaurant into an eatery upstairs and a lounge below. The top floor is where the pizza oven resides, and it is lined in copper. The downstairs, in contrast, is lined in zinc. The two floors have two entirely different atmospheres, as the downstairs feels much more intimate, complete with cozy couches and late-night fare. “The word ‘lounge’ denotes a different feeling: it’ll be open late with an entirely different menu,” Garoufalis said. Indeed, the late-night menu features items such as deep-fried pizza.
The downstairs floor also holds the liquor lockers, a place where people who have bought entire bottles of liquor can store them for their next visit to the lounge. It’s part of the MAST’ team’s effort to make the restaurant neighborhood-friendly and foster an environment for regulars.
MAST’ hopes its staff will be reason enough to come back. “We’re a family, not a corporation,” Garoufalis said. Coming from an Italian owner, MAST’ also places a large emphasis on ensuring authenticity. From the pizza oven to the espresso machine, everything has been brought in from Italy. The wine list is also heavily weighted toward Italian reds.
With its relatively inexpensive prices and high quality, MAST’ hopes to attract college students. Its hard-to-reach location in Downtown Crossing will be a barrier, especially with the area’s notoriously expensive parking. Its space is conducive to large parties, however, which may be a draw for young people, and the late-night hours might also attract a younger crowd.
With its combination between daytime and nightlife atmospheres—both characterized by a stellar pizza menu—MAST’ will almost certainly find itself welcome in Boston’s food scene.
According to its Facebook page, MAST’ aspires to bring “a modern twist to Neapolitan street food.” And with the restaurant’s unique combination of daylife and nightlife atmospheres, MAST’ definitely brings something new to the Boston food scene.
Featured Image Courtesy of MAST’