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Bringing Earth and Fire to Somerville at The Flatbread Company

By S. Mathur

The Flatbread Company in Somerville, MA is located in a building that used to house Sacco's Bowling Alley. Specializing in wood fired clay oven pizza, the restaurant decided to keep the bowling alley as well. The heart of kitchen operations is the clay oven, modeled on those developed in the Mediterranean five thousand years ago when humans first began using ovens to cook. Assistant Manager Heide Hancock says that "Our oven is the heart of the operation; it is handmade from clay, hay, ash and sand. Just about everything is cooked over wood fire, sweetened with local maple syrup/honey and made with love."

The pizzas can be gluten free, vegan, vegetarian or carnivorous. What sets apart the Flatbread Company is the use of local, organic produce and free range, chemical free meats. Organic salads are built on a bed of mesclun and sweet leaf lettuce, with celery, carrots, toasted sesame seeds and Maine sea kelp, and a homemade ginger-tamari vinaigrette. Salad and pizza toppings include artisanal cheeses. For dessert you can pick brownie sundaes, chocolate chip banana bread sundaes, or all natural ice cream sandwiches.

The Flatbread Company makes a special effort to source food locally, including the beers and 90% of the spirits used in the cocktails. Hancock says that "We believe in nourishing our bodies and souls and that comes through on our menu. We do not cut corners. From nitrate-free pepperoni to our fire-roasted organic red peppers to our hormone-free maple fennel sausage to our all natural draft root beer float and everything in between. The extra step is taken for our guests and it is truly our pleasure." The first Flatbread Company restaurant opened in 1998 in Amesbury, MA with the promise of food that would "renew the spirit".

Hancock says that people should eat organic food because "We believe food remembers. This means our bodies remember what we're putting in it. Leaving out the preservatives, pesticides and hormones provides nourishment without fillers and chemicals. The nutrients come through more and the taste is better. Supporting local, organic farming helps preserve our ecosystem." Each Flatbread Company location works with local farms and producers to create long term change in the community.

The Flatbread Company plays an active role in community life in Somerville, hosting a local nonprofit every Tuesday night to raise money and awareness for their cause. Gift cards are donated for silent auctions and fundraisers in the area, and the store hosts several field trips each month for kids to bowl and have lunch. What's really important, says Hancock, is building long term relationships: "But it extends beyond just donations and charity and into the neighborhood.

Since we opened we've been fostering relationships with local schools, small businesses, distilleries, breweries and farms all while paying homage to Sacco's Bowl Haven that was here since the 30's." Having a farmers market across the street, makes it easier to connect with vendors and shoppers who "share a similar passion for local and organic living."

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