I think you’re being somewhat nostalgic,” said a friend as he ripped a hunk off a slice of pepperoni pizza, one dappled with a spicy marinara and a heady whiff of oregano. This is the pizza that I grew up with—crunchy, loaded with sauce and slightly well done. Well, I like it.
The venue is East Coast Eats, opened by a couple of guys from Massachusetts’ North Shore (or “Nawth Shaw,” as natives like me refer to it). The conceit in this storefront is the food we ate in the Boston area: roast beef sandwiches, calzones, various types of seafood on pasta, and above all, subs. And everything is done Boston-style.
Décor is simple and chauvinistic, starring framed jerseys of various New England Patriots and logos of the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. There is no table service, per se, but after you order at the counter, a cashier delivers food to your table, on a tray.
The roast beef sandwich is king around greater Boston, in large part thanks to a small chain, Kelly’s Roast Beef, which serves one of the best roast beef sandwiches in the world. The meat is sliced thin and served medium-rare, showing pink. It comes on a soft bun, around six inches thick, slathered with a rich sauce.
Then there’s the Steak Bomb, Boston’s answer to the Philly cheese steak. Take said beef, griddle with green peppers, onions, mushrooms and, toward the end, American cheese, and voila! Now stuff it into one of the house sub rolls, in this case a workmanlike version made by the local bakery called Great Buns. It seems like everyone here is eating one. If the roll were a little better, I’d call it the perfect gut bomb.
Look to the specials board in front of the register. One day, it listed stuffed peppers, two enormous bell peppers with “hamburg” and rice stuffing, (hamburg is Bostonese for ground beef) on linguini, a huge portion that I couldn’t finish. Another day, I tried mixed seafood in tomato sauce on pasta, another gargantuan portion. Did I really eat this stuff growing up? Yes, I believe I did.
One thing I ate multiple times during the week was an Italian cold-cut sub. This one tastes like the one I remember: mortadella, capicola and Genoa salami, on a “spuckie” (that’s a submarine roll to you, pal), not to mention Provolone, onions, tomatoes, oil and lots of oregano. Lettuce? No thanks. We nevah heard of the stuff in Beantown.
For an occasional special, they also take said cold cuts, layer them into pizza dough and call it an Italian cold-cut calzone. The thing is a monster. Four of us shared one, and it damned near made a lunch.
The boys make their own onion rings, and the burgers are credible, tasty meat that is overcooked for my taste. They also make a good grilled pastrami and chicken Parm sub. The only things missing from my childhood list of staples are fried clams, bellies on, and something called a pepper and egg sub, sort of a green pepper omelet in a roll.
They’re planning to get the clams any day now, so keep an eye out. If that happens, I’m gonna get real nostalgic.