By Grace Stratford
Walking into Matchbox, you are greeted by friendly employees and a sleek restaurant decor. Upon being seated in our booth, we were welcomed by our waiter. He asked for our drink orders, and while we waited, I explored the restaurant. It is a two-story building with wood features inside and out. Their website says, “We’ll greet you with rich, reclaimed timber, cool, sleek finishes, hushed conversation, and the smell of crackling oak fires. Because here, you are truly home.” There are mouth-watering smells, and as soon as you walk in, you see the open area where the pizza’s are being made, which adds a level of interest.
Once we had decided, we placed our orders for appetizers and entrees and then waited. It took a bit of time for the appetizers to come out, especially since only one of the appetizer orders had initially been placed due to a mishap with the computers. Later on the manager came to our table and told us that they were going to cover the cost of the second appetizer because it came out so late. He was very apologetic and sincere.
The first appetizer, the Crab + Avo, was delicious. It includes lump crab in a dish, guacamole, and wood-fired bread. Although I do not typically enjoy seafood, I could still eat the bread and avocado mix, which was a pleasant surprise. My mom said, “The crab tastes very fresh, like it is right out of the bay.” This appetizer offered an array of flavors and textures, which made it very appealing.
The second appetizer, that came out with our entrees, was the tomato mozzarella arancini, which includes crispy fried risotto, fresh mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, and zesty tomato sauce. This was my favorite dish at Matchbox. It is crispy on the outside, but as soon as you bite into it, you are greeting with a warm cheesy interior that just melts in your mouth. It is a healthier, and better, version of mozzarella sticks.
For my entree, I ordered a vegetarian dish to see if there were options for everyone. I settled on the black bean veggie burger, which consisted of a house-made veggie patty, avocados, chipotle mayonnaise, crispy corn tortillas, shredded cheddar, and house-cut fries. Biting into the burger, various flavors filled my mouth. Having not ordered a vegetarian dish before, I was surprisingly pleased with the taste and how filling it was. All the toppings mixed well with the patty and created an overall very enjoyable vegetarian option that I would order again.
My mom opted to try one of their famous homemade brick oven pizzas. She decided on the prosciutto white pizza with kalamata olives, fresh garlic purée, ricotta, mozzarella, and topped with extra virgin olive oil. She thoroughly enjoyed her pizza, and while she did not finish it due to the size, she brought the rest home. It was a healthier alternative to a cheese pizza, and the flavors “melted in her mouth.”
My brother Alfred Stratford (‘22) opted for the braised short ribs with rapini, tomatoes, onions, egg noodles, and braising jus. He must have really enjoyed his meal, because it was gone within four minutes. He thoroughly enjoyed the ribs and the accompanying mashed potatoes.
My father ordered the chicken fettuccini alfredo with sun-dried tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, and a side of garlic bread. The flavors were rich and very filling, but the dish was so scrumptious my father finished it.
My grandmother ordered the crispy half chicken served with asparagus, mashed potatoes, and Fresno pepper vinegar in a side dish. This is one of the lighter dishes, but still smelled and tasted delicious.
Matchbox is not only a fantastic restaurant, but it is also very involved the surrounding community. Their website states, “As community leaders, we donate 50¢ of every pizza sold to No Kid Hungry to end child hunger in America. On Mondays to Wednesdays, we can partner with any nonprofit to donate 10% of sales to your organization.” This is a brilliant way for a somewhat new restaurant chain to develop a family and community base, while they also serve many fascinating dishes that make your mouth water.
Overall, my experience at Matchbox was a positive one. The servers were polite and professional and were aware of when refills were needed and cleared off finished plates. The food and drinks were fairly priced. The entrées averaged around $20, and the average “sandwich” price was around $13. It was fairly full when we went, yet there was no wait time to be seated. The layout of the restaurant was visually appealing and offered many different seating options, such as booths, the bar, and regular and high tables. There is also an upstairs area that was being used as a party space during the night we went. The bar has few TV’s and lots of seats that expand the capacity of the new restaurant.
All photos by Grace Stratford unless otherwise specified.