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Oggi Gourmet, with its sleek counters and sophisticated pizza toppings, represents a very different face of Harvard Square dining than the more traditional undergraduate staple of Pinocchio’s Pizza and Subs—but Noch’s isn’t worried.
“I would say classic Italian with a Caribbean twist,” Oggi chef and manager Paul Smith, better known as “Cook Master Jako,” said to describe Oggi’s niche in the pizza market.
Oggi, which is tucked away in the Holoyoke Center, earns its gourmet title by featuring cherry tomatoes, toasted almonds, and goat cheese pizzas in addition to fresh tarragon chicken salad sandwiches.
Oggi’s atmosphere straddles the line between casual and upscale, which appeals to students who want to avoid a crowd.
“They use fresh ingredients, they don’t take too long to order, it’s overall just a very good dining experience,” said Lewis D. Hahn ’08.
Located a couple of blocks away, Pinocchio’s provides more traditional offerings and atmosphere to its clientele.
“It’s a very friendly atmosphere because it’s a family run business,” said Pinocchio’s co-owner Adam Dicenso.
Dicenso said it was this family vibe that allows his establishment—which has been serving pizza in the Square since 1966—to create personal ties with the undergraduate community.
“We actually feel that we know our customers pretty well because we have a lot of repeat customers,” he added. “It definitely is a small space but it suits our needs and our customers’ needs very well.”
In contrast to its trendy counterpart, Dicenso said Pinocchio’s prides itself on its straightforward menu of Italian selections.
“We don’t really put seafood and stuff on and a lot of the newfangled sort of toppings,” he said. “Kind of like no-frills food.”
Dicenso also said that the presence of Oggi would not lead to any changes on their menu.
“We are always trying out different toppings on our slices, but no real major changes,” Dicenso said. “It’s not broken, so we don’t want to fix it.”
When asked how Oggi compares itself to Pinochio’s, Smith had a quick reply.
“We don’t,” said Smith.
But he said there’s one message both Oggi and Pinnochio’s seem to agree on.
“[We cater to] people looking for great food,” Smith said.
Some students said that Pinocchio’s would continue to draw students, despite additions to the Square.
“It’s convenient, open late relative to a lot of other places in the Square. It’s kind of like an institution, too,” said Karl J. Kmiecik ’10. “It’s Noch’s.”
—Staff writer Alexa D. West can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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