TreMonte Pizzeria brings taste of Italy downtown with stone-fired pizza and one “cool” bar
By The Howl Street Team
A piece of simple dough stretched into a disk, dappled with tomato, cheese, fresh toppings and shuttled into a hot stone hearth is a thing of sublime beauty.
Pizza lovers take note: if you’re seeking an experience that lifts you up and drops your tastebuds into northern Italy, look no further than TreMonte Pizzeria now open at 44 Palmer St.
In the restaurant’s open-concept kitchen, owner Anthony Contarino and his staff move back and forth flipping dough, pouring sauce, sprinkling cheese and toppings and moving pies through a beehive-shaped behemoth oven fired up to a searing 800 degrees.
Diners enjoying the new TreMonte Pizzeria. Photo by Tory Germann.
The high heat translates to speed, cooking several pies at once and under five minutes.
It’s like watching a pit crew service a race car and sidewalk passersby can catch a glimpse of the well-oiled machine through the restaurant’s large picture windows.
The pizza’s “secret” seasoned sauce is made fresh on site, has a slightly sweet tang and a big savory finish. The blend of cheeses lends to a nice charred surface with some bubbles and that little bit of string which makes eating pizza pie the ultimate comfort food whether your nine or 90. But thanks to TreMonte’s Cadillac of ovens, the crust is perfection pure and simple — browned on the bottom and crisp to the bite, but warm and fluffy on the inside.
Contarino, who also owns TreMonte Restaurant and a second pizza shop in Woburn, takes pride in cooking food made fresh to order.
“You will never see a microwave set foot in this place, nor will you ever see any frozen foods,” he said.
Pepperoni stone-fired pizza. Photo by Tory Germann.
TreMonte’s modern and airy dining room is comfortable with cushy booths surrounded by windows looking out onto downtown’s historic cobblestone streets. Looking in from Palmer Street, you can view the kitchen buzzing and spot several wide screen TVs set to sports channels. But the star of the show is the room’s centerpiece — a horse-shoe shaped ice bar that keeps drinks chilled to the last drop and makes conversing with friends and other bar patrons inviting.
So, what exactly is an ice bar? The edge of the bar is lined with a sleek, four-inch wide snow-white trough of finely milled ice resulting in the coolest drink coaster in downtown.
Drinks stay cool to the last drop on TreMonte’s ice bar. Photo by Tory Germann.
Bartender Felix Galvan makes an amazing cucumber martini — Hendrix gin, St. Germain and fresh muddled cucumbers — our new favorite summer drink. The elderberry-infused Prosecco also makes a nice refresher on warmer days and the bar features a selection of 24 domestic and craft beers on tap, specialty cocktail creations and house-made sangria.
TreMonte’s signature pizzas are $7 for a personal 8-inch pizza ($1.00 per additional topping), $11 for 14-inch pies ($1.50 per additional topping) and include house specialties like meatball and ricotta, shrimp scampi and buffalo chicken.
TreMonte house burger. Photo by Tory Germann.
The house burger is a mouth-watering and juicy half pound of grilled beef topped with bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions ($11). The rest of the menu includes Italian and American pub fare and entrees ($13.99 to $15.99) like succulent eggplant parmigiana, chicken broccoli and tender steak tips.
Appetizers ($5 to $14) are out-of-this-world good with some unique offerings to downtown like gravy fries with cheese and layered eggplant topped with TreMonte’s signature pesto alfredo. A great summer treat, the combination of fresh basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and liberal amounts of extra virgin olive oil make this pesto one of the best we’ve tried yet.
The crispy chicken fingers are also a popular crowd pleaser, served wrapped in thin wax paper resembling an old school newspaper.
Taste testers agree: TreMonte pizza scores a home run. Photo by Tory Germann.
The grand opening of TreMonte also celebrates a much-needed update on 44 Palmer’s structural interior. Building owner, Lowell developer Nick Sarris, saw the potential in Contarino’s vision and invested in a major rehab on the space. Sarris, who also just updated the historic Gates Block building at 307 Market St. that’s now home to the Arts League of Lowell, said upkeep of the city’s oldest buildings is integral to a progressive and lively downtown.
“Quality costs less in the longterm,” Sarris said. “By taking care of these buildings the right way, you’re getting something back that lasts a very long time and that benefits everyone.”
Proud pizza chef Contarino hopes guests will find that at TreMonte, quality translates from kitchen to table.
From our tastebuds to your ears — we’re howlin’ for TreMonte’s stone-fired pizza and are confident you will be too.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: TreMonte Pizzeria Restaurant & Bar
WHERE: 44 Palmer St., Lowell, MA
INFO: Open daily at 11:30 a.m., Sunday through Tuesday the kitchen closes at 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 11 p.m.. The bar closes at 1 a.m. daily. Learn more about TreMonte here.
Howl photographer & writer John Knowles contributed to this report.