KINGSTON – A lasagna with 40 layers. Outstanding pizzas served with dips. Housemade mozzarella sticks that stretch for miles. Those are just three reasons why you need to get to A3. But there are so many more.

Located Route 3A in Kingston, Massachusetts, A3 Pizza, Pasta & Parm is the newest restaurant from chef/owner John Cataldi, who is best known for his upscale spot nearby named Solstice. In this more affordable, family-friendly restaurant, he decided to bring a straightforward American-Italian restaurant reminiscent of the one his father owned when he was growing up.

“We’re unabashedly American Italian food. We’re not trying to be anything that we’re not. It’s the food we grew up with. It’s food we liked, food we like to cook. We’re Americans cooking Italian food,” John pointed out. “While risotto with white truffles is awesome, there is nothing better than having a slice of lasagna and a meatball on a Sunday.”

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The appetizer section of the A3 menu has all of your American Italian standards. From loaves of house baked garlic bread great for sharing; crostini topped with whipped ricotta and A3’s own hot honey; and mouthwatering meatballs that John swears by.

Meatballs at A3 Pizza Pasta & Parm (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“We start them in olive oil, get a little fry on them, and then finished by braising them in tomato sauce. It’s almost a creamy, juicy, but with a little crust on the outside. I think they’re the best,”

John proudly boasted. “I’ve had meatballs forever. We had contests within my family, and what can I say? I always win.”

Just one pull and you will be able to tell A3’s mozzarella sticks did not come out of a bag.

“It’s not processed. I think you’ll notice a huge difference in the high quality of the cheese,” John said.

When you are at A3, you have to get a pizza for the table.

“It’s American pizza. It’s the pizza that I first fell in love with as a kid,” John said. “There’s not a whole lot of fancy, fancy toppings. I’d say it’s the best pizza around.”

There is the Mauna Lao, John’s take on the Hawaiian Pizza topped with pineapple, house smoked bacon and pickled jalapeno; or try one smothered in vodka sauce with chicken, bacon and basil. Then there is the Johnny Pizza, appropriately named because it happens to be John’s favorite.

The Johnny Pizza at A3 Pizza Pasta & Parm (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“It’s a white sauce. We use Italian sausage that we make in house. It has a little fennel and a little spice in it, and then thin sliced red onion over the top. I’ve never eaten one better.”

For all of you hot heads, there is the Arrabiatta Angry Pizza, topped with spicy pepperoni and that housemade hot honey.

“You get that spicy from the honey, and the sweet from the sauce, and the little bit of sweetness from the pepperoni, and a little more spice from the pepperoni,” John described. “It’s not overly spicy. The honey itself is pretty hot, but when all the things come together the cheese mellows it out.

While the pizza is great on its own, sauces like ranch, garlic butter, hot honey and marinara are available for your crust dipping needs.

“I think it encourages people to dig into that crust, or what we call pizza bones,” John said. “It’s just a way to get them maybe to try the bones when they normally wouldn’t.”

Of course, parms are a big part of this menu as well.

Chicken Parm at A3 Pizza Pasta & Parm (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“We do a chicken parm, an eggplant parm and a veal parm. All are cooked in olive oil. All are made daily. Top it with fresh mozzarella, baked off in the oven for a finishing touch. Top it with a little basil and Romano cheese. It’s excellent,” John promised.

It is the fresh made pasta where the kitchen really shines, with options like slow cooked Bolognese.

“The Bolognese itself is an eight hour Bolognese. It’s a mixture of beef and pork that we grind ourselves with some chicken stock, really high quality tomatoes. We finish it with Romano cheese,” John described. “There’s nothing more satisfying than a bowl of pasta in Bolognese. It’s hearty, kind of stick to your ribs, soul food that I grew up with.”

Pasta Bolognese at A3 Pizza Pasta & Parm (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Their lasagna is anything but traditional. Stacking up at 40 layers, this dish takes time.

“We knew we wanted to serve a lasagna and we came up with an idea to stack it really high. We layer fresh pasta followed by a layer of ricotta mix, another layer of pasta, followed by Bolognese, parmesan Romano, another layer of pasta… until it’s done 40 layers later,” John explained. “We cut it into a fairly thick slab and we sauté it in a pan with some olive oil. We top it with a dollop of ricotta cheese, just to really send it over the edge.”

40 Layer Lasagna at A3 Pizza Pasta & Parm (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

With parms, pizza and pastas served at pocket friendly prices, a meal at A3 won’t send your bank account over the edge, making it one Phantastic Meal Deal.

You can find A3 Pizza, Pasta & Parm at 65 Summer Street in Kingston, Massachusetts and online at a3pizza.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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