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It’s Proustian, the way he’s describing it: food memories and time-travel and nostalgia, everything but the actual madeleines. I have driven to Salem on an arctic Monday afternoon in January to meet with Keenan Langlois, the chef/partner of Garçon SuperSlice Pizza Pie Parlor, which officially opened its doors to customers one month earlier. With seating for 50 and an ebullient vibe—cherry-red metal stools; a flatscreen television tuned into a burning fireplace; blackboard paint boasting cheerful facts about pizza—the space, Langlois says, is meant to live out a lifelong ambition: to bring to Massachusetts the kind of pizza that he, himself, wants to eat.

Langlois is not new to restaurants, nor is he new to Salem restaurants. A native of Hingham, Massachusetts, Langlois cut his teeth in fine dining many years ago, working both in the United States and abroad. More recently, he has been a local fixture, in Salem. ChezCasa, his popular-if-tiny sandwich shop on Bridge Street, opened in 2019. It was a spot, he says, where he produced things and simultaneously dreamed of producing other things. The space was too small for a pizza oven, and so he looked to the future, when it might be possible to expand his vision elsewhere.

“I have always wanted to make pizza,” he tells me over a slice of the restaurant’s signature cheese, baked in a 650-degree oven until charred-crisp on the bottom. “Everybody kind of retracts back to their very basic food instincts and experiences, and maybe it’s spaghetti and meatballs, or something that your grandmother made, and I think that in our hearts, we want to go back there.” For Langlois, “going back there” means going back to pizza, a style that he refers to as “a New York slice via New Haven.” In New York, pizzas are large and hand-tossed and thin. In New Haven, pizzas are cooked in 800–900-degree coal-fired ovens, producing an unmistakably charred crust. Here, at Garçon, they meet somewhere in the middle.

The pizza here is made from a sourdough fermented starter that then gets an addition of fresh yeast, which, Langlois says, stabilizes the structure. The dough then ferments for 24 hours more before it gets any cheese or toppings. It’s a limited operation: nine pizzas, sold both by the 18-inch, hand-tossed pie and by the slice; garlic knots; two different types of salad, Caesar and Greek; a slim offering of cookies and cakes, baked in-house; 24-ounce milkshakes; a Polar Root Beer ice-cream float; and soft drinks. In the future, Langlois hopes to apply for a beer and wine license, too.

The idea of the restaurant is a family spot where locals can affordably dine in while enjoying high-quality pizza. My own slice—cheese, what I consider to be the ultimate arbiter of good pizza—arrived on a melamine plate designed to mimic traditional paper. I picked it up; the slice didn’t sag or flex. Like the New York slices I enjoyed during my 17 years in the Empire State, this one was crispy on the bottom with a molten layer of cheese (a blend of mozzarella and provolone, Langlois tells me, though some of the other slices, like the fried eggplant and Castelvetrano olive version, boast other types of cheese—in that case, cheddar).

A slightly blistered bottom crust is still light and yielding. The sauce? I ask. It’s not fussy. It’s made from seasoned tomato paste. It’s not sweet, the way Beach pizza is. The slice is harmonious, as I suspect Langlois means it to be. On weekdays, he offers a special: two slices and a fountain soda for just under $10 (with change back, he wants me to know). “The dough itself has a lot more fat than a typical pizza dough, and that’s what keeps it crispy and light,” he says.

To achieve his own archetypal pizza, Langlois took a field trip to the land where pizza dreams are made, New York. “I have friends in New York. I went to visit, and we ate at like eight different places,” he says. “Just a lot of shops on the side of the street. I really love that. I love that aspect, that you can just get a slice anywhere.”

But Garçon SuperSlice doesn’t want to be just anywhere. It wants to be a destination: for a slice, for dinner for the family, for takeout, for delivery. As I prepared to reenter January’s arctic blast, Langlois fixed me three slices to go: another cheese for one of my kids, a slice of pepperoni, and a slice with pickled peppers, pineapple, and porchetta. Back at home, in Boxford, I warmed them gently in the oven, and the crust was just as feather-light as it had been back at the restaurant, the bottom just as crisp. It was, you might say, a revelation.