When people ask me to name my favorite places in Boston, Petsi Pies in Cambridge always tops the list. It is a cafe and bakery located on the quaint and somewhat hidden Putnam Avenue in Cambridge. Even though it is only two blocks down from busy, commercial Mass Ave., it is unlikely you would happen upon it by chance, as Putnam Avenue is completely residential except for the cafe. The atmosphere is extremely laid back and homey. The staff are incredibly friendly and it’s not everywhere in Harvard Square that you find pleasant customer service.
Petsi Pies is the perfect spot for lunch, with several different sandwiches, soups, quiches, and salads. Standard every day sandwiches include turkey, cheddar and avocado, tomato,basil, and mozzarella, and a hummus and vegetable wrap or plate. They also have a rotating selection of special sandwiches that are more interesting than the regulars, such as
Goat in the Boat: Grilled Portabello Mushroom, Caramelized Balsamic onion, Goat Cheese, Baby Spinach, Swiss, on Foccacia;
Golden Ticket: Roasted Butternut Squash, Brie, Homemade Apple Cranberry Almond Chutney, Baby Arugula, Swiss, pressed on Foccacia;
Green Lady: Grilled Portobello’s, Homemade Pesto, Goat Cheese, Parmesan, Provelone,Baby Spinach, Roasted Tomato, on Sesame Torta;
Cape Codder: Grilled Chicken, Homemade Apple Cranberry Almond Chutney, Baby Arugula, Cheddar, all pressed on foccacia;
Round-up: Grilled steak, w/Tomatillo-Corn Salsa, a touch of Chipotle Crema, and pressed on Foccacia w/Smoked Cheddar and Baby Arugula.
Papi’s Garden: Succulent Roasted Zucchini, Summer Squash and Tomato, on Foccacia w/Baby Spinach, and Smoked Mozzarella
Are you salivating yet? I love the names. When we went for lunch last week, Dave ordered the North End Street Fair: Chorizo, Peppers, Onions and homemade Marinara served on a Brioche sub roll with Greek Cucumber Salad. This was a very dense and saucy sandwich and they did not skimp on the chorizo. The brioche bun was rich and fluffy and a nice contrast to the chewy sausage.
Petsi Pies also offers a rotating selection of soups, equally as creative and delicious as the sandwiches. Recent offerings have included Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo, Maple Chipotle Sweet Potato, Roasted Tomato with Roast Garlic, Chipotle Chicken and Hominy Chowder, and Apple Ginger Pumpkin with Butternut Squash.
On the day we went, I chose the curry coconut chick pea butternut squash soup. That name includes all things that I am very fond of. It had lots of chick peas and big chunks of tender butternut squash and other vegetables in a rich, sweet coconut curry broth. I daresay it was a tad too rich. Not really in the sense that it took away from the quality of the soup. Rather, that you are simply aware that you maybe should not eat this soup in large quantities.
I am a fan of pretty much all of Petsi Pies’ baked goods. Their scones are buttery, sweet and crumbly, their pie, unsurprisingly, is delicious. They make a heavenly blackberry cream cheese crumb bar, a rich fudgey walnut brownie, and pleasantly moist apple walnut cake. They also make a killer snickerdoodle. Buttery with crispy cinnamon-y edges.
The day we went, the chocolate chip cookie looked different than it has in the past, with a more attractive browning across the top of the cookie. It was thick and chewy and packed with chocolate chips. A very solid cookie in my opinion.
Petsi, by the way, is the nickname of Renee, the owner, who you can sometimes catch at the main bakery location in Somerville on Beacon Street. One last note about the friendly staff at Petsi Pies. They tweet fairly regularly that if you ever have a problem finding a table at lunch due to laptop crowding, to let them know and they will get you a seat. I have actually seen this in action. They will get you a table. While it is a lovely place to take a laptop and do work for hours, Petsi Pies is there to serve good food, and they make sure to give priority to customers who come for that.
31 Putnam Avenue