Favorites like pizza, pasta and parm pair with a family-friendly atmosphere at A3.By Maria Allen | Photography by Alyssa Stone
It might seem a little counter intuitive for a chef to label his own restaurant “unauthentic,” but for John Cataldi the term isn’t intended to be derogatory. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “We serve unabashedly American-Italian food,” says Cataldi of his new Kingston eatery, A3. Specializing in pizza, handmade pastas and savory dishes like chicken and eggplant Parmesan, the menu features the type of down-to-earth food that Cataldi remembers eating when he would visit his dad’s restaurant in Dorchester. “It’s soul food,” says Cataldi. “I’m talking about traditional American pizza with a crust you can fold in half with your hand.”
A3 is located next-door to the wildly popular fine dining restaurant Solstice, which Cataldi also happens to own. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he and his wife Hollie opened Solstice in 2003 and the restaurant has become known for its innovative, upscale American cuisine.
While the new restaurant is completely different from its predecessor, the staff’s dedication to quality ingredients is the same. Cataldi and his team go to great lengths to ensure that each dish on the A3 menu tastes great. Their pizza dough, for example, takes four days to make in order to coax the maximum amount of flavor from the ingredients.
Customers can choose to have red sauce on their pizza or leave it white. We love the classic Margherita pizza made with tomato, fresh and aged mozzarella, basil, Romano cheese and oregano. Another favorite is the Arrabbiatta “Angry Pizza” topped with tomato, Ezzo pepperoni, hot honey, Calabrian chili, Romano cheese and oregano. For white pizzas, you can’t go wrong with the Johnny, that comes layered with mozzarella, A3 fennel sausage (made in-house), red onion and Romano cheese. The flavors meld together perfectly.
Pasta selections include the uber-simple spaghetti with tomato sauce (you can add a meatball for $3), 20-layer lasagna, shrimp scampi and six-hour Bolognese. Fresh salads include the A3 house salad, Caesar salad, baby spinach salad and an antipasto plate that includes chopped greens, spiced beans, salami, tomatoes, toast, roasted peppers, oregano vinaigrette, Romano and Parmesan.
Designed to be family-friendly, the menu also includes a kid penne or spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter and cheese, depending on preference. They can wash their meal down with an old-fashioned nonalcoholic beverage like a Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers.
A3’s casual, welcoming atmosphere makes it the kind of place parents would feel comfortable bringing their kids out for a meal. The restaurant offers a Sunday supper special designed to feed four to six diners and served family-style with big bowls and platters. The meal includes salad, garlic bread, one cheese pizza and a choice of entrées such as chicken parmigiana, which is pounded thin and pan-fried in olive oil, or chicken Marsala topped with mixed mushrooms and Marsala wine sauce over penne and tomato sauce. “Growing up, we would go to my grandmother’s house every Sunday and there would always be a big pot of sauce on the stove,” says Cataldi, who likes the ideas of families coming together to enjoy a simple meal together.
Takeout is also a big part of the business and A3’s online ordering system makes it easy for customers to schedule when they pick up their dinner. “The best part is that people can order at 2 p.m. even if they don’t want it until 6 p.m.,” says Cataldi.
Between the elegance of Solstice and the relaxed atmosphere at A3, Cataldi and his customers can now enjoy the best of both worlds.
65 Summer St., Kingston; 781-585-6555