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Right to Bite 

Side Dishes: New pizzeria offends some sensitive South Enders

Published September 10, 2008 at 5:55 a.m.

The name of the South End's newest restaurant, Bite Me Organic Pizza, exhorts the eater to dig in. But for some customers, the restaurant's name has more vulgar connotations.

Jack O'Brien's new pizza place on St. Paul Street has generated a flurry of postings on the neighborhood's Front Porch Forum, some of which have been rather, well, biting.

In a message left for this reporter, FPF commenter Dorie Weigand points out: "The way our language has evolved, 'bite me' is pretty confrontational and aggressive . . . I don't really think that I'm offended; I just think that the language that was used was not well thought out for a new business."

Democratic City Councilor Joan Shannon, who lives nearby with her 6-year-old daughter, questions O'Brien's marketing motives: "I think the aim may have been to appear trendy or cutting edge," she opines. "And maybe it's a good line if you're trying to attract college students" - as opposed to families.

Would Shannon go there without her elementary schooler? "I have mixed feelings," she admits, conceding that O'Brien "has made a great improvement to a problem property in the neighborhood. . . . I hear they have good pizza. It's a matter of whether or not I can overcome the name to go eat pizza there."

Others neighbors, like Jessica Oski, aren't concerned about the pizzeria's moniker: "I would say that the name is an attempt at being clever, and it's not necessarily the name that I would have chosen, but there are certainly things in this world that I'm more concerned about talking to my kids about: war, poverty, racism, etc." And, she points out, "You are biting the food."

O'Brien himself seems somewhat baffled by the furor. "I'm sorry they feel that way about the name, but I can't make them see something differently if they perceive 'bite me' as a negative. I'm just trying to do everything positive."

His final word on the topic: "I like that the people here are innovative, smart, picky and opinionated: All these things are fantastic. I love the fact that we can agree to disagree." Slice of Vermont life.

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


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