South Shore Bar Pizza

Where I grew up there is a regional food specialty known as South Shore bar pizza (or, if you are in an SNL skit, “bah” pizza). By regional I do not mean New England. I do not even mean Massachusetts or Boston. I mean the specific area of Massachusetts that is roughly south of Route 93 and mostly east of Route 24 (though a few towns along 24, like Stoughton, are definitely part of this story) and bound on the east side by the Harbor (or, again, if you are in an SNL skit, “habah”). The southernmost point is the Cape Cod canal. Hence, the South Shore.

Nearly every town within the South Shore has a restaurant that specializes in the bar pizza. The Lynwood Cafe in Randolph. Poopsie’s in Pembroke. Town Spa in Stoughton. While there are differences I’m here to tell you that the biggest predictor of which establishment you frequented was proximity. That doesn’t mean people don’t wax poetic about their favorite. Just try to get a Stoughton guy to shut up about Town Spa. It cannot be done.

A recent story about bar pizza in the Boston Globe (paywall) had my husband and I feeling nostalgic. We always get bar pizza when we visit our families on the South Shore. But, well, 2020. So we haven’t had it since last Christmas. I read the story, watched the video and cried. “Soon,” I thought, sighed and moved on with my life.

My husband read the story, watched the video and thought “I can do that.” So he bought bans, a food scale (?), a food thermometer and he was off to the races. And the results were impressive!

What makes South Shore pizza different? A few things:

  1. It’s made in a 10-inch pan, exclusively. There is no such thing as a “large” South Shore pizza. There’s one size. But if you think “Oh sure, I’ve had a personal pan size pizza,” keep reading …
  2. The crust is made with corn oil and it’s not stretched the way pizza dough typically is. Instead it’s pressed into the bottom of the pan creating a crispy, almost cracker-like crust.
  3. The cheese is a mix of mozzarella and … cheddar. It’s the cheese combo, I think, that gives it a distinctive taste. It’s also traditional, though not universal, to sprinkle the cheese all the way to the edge of the pan so there’s no real crust around the edge. Some places refer to this as “laced” because it creates a crispy edge of nearly-burnt cheese that looks like lace.

We increased the authenticity factor by making it with Pastene pizza sauce, a local variety that triggered an instant flavor memory for me.

While I’m still dreaming about my next trip up for the authentic original, our homemade version was better than I could have hoped for. It was a balm for the soul at the end of a very trying year.

Ambition, Food, Love, Loss

The bar at Prune, courtesy of their website.

It’s not really fair for one person to be so ridiculously talented in two wildly different disciplines. Gabrielle Hamilton is a chef’s chef, cooking food that is inventive, unpretentious and sublime. And her writing is lyrical, evocative and moving.

Her piece in the New York Times Magazine about closing down Prune, her East Village restaurant of 20 years, in the wake of the shutdown of New York City is sad, beautiful, bracing and somehow still hopeful.

The first paragraph will make you catch your breath. She is about to layoff all her employees and she dreams that she is unable to save her two children from dying. It is arresting in its powerful imagery. And it lays bare the lie we’ve all been made to believe about mothers and ambition (namely that motherhood damps down women’s ambition — it doesn’t).

I ate at Prune twice. Once in its early years. Once almost exactly a year ago.

After 9/11 I remember thinking about Windows on the World. I’d had an amazing meal there and often thought I should go again. But anytime we were able to go out we picked somewhere else. New York has so many restaurants. There will always be another time. Until there isn’t another time.

New York can be a hard city to love. You can go to a restaurant for years — decades! — and then, one day, poof! and it’s gone. The list of places that I still miss, still think about … Mayrose, Tramps, Da Silvana (a local place in Queens), Les Halles, Bluewater Grill, Coffee Shop (now a Chase bank!).

And yet, the reckoning has come. What will be left when we can finally lift up the grates again? Hamilton’s hope that she can reopen, reimagine, revive. It’s a hope I share. I’ll go back! This time I promise I won’t allow myself to think that there’s always more time.

A Tale of Two (Food) Cities, Part II

Today Preston and I had lunch at the Modern, the restaurant at MoMA. It’s very close to Preston’s office, so he went to work. I did not go to work. I went to MoMA.

Lunch was sublime, just as it was last year. Here’s what we ate:


Preston: SEASONAL GREENS: Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese, Smoked Grapes and Verjus Vinaigrette

Tami: SLOW-POACHED FARM EGG: Black Winter Truffle, Salsify, and Squid Ink Spaetzle (I’m a big fan of soft-boiled eggs with toast. This was like that except way, way, way, way better. It was something my Nana made for me. Sort of fitting that I had it today on the anniversary of her passing.)


Preston: BEEF TENDERLOIN “À LA FICELLE”: Pressed Root Vegetables, Horseradish, and Verjus-Pickled Juniper Berries

Tami: MAPLE-BRINED BERKSHIRE PORK TENDERLOIN: Crushed Walnuts, Mangalica Lardo, and Whole Grain Mustard Jus



Tami: CARAMEL PARFAIT: Mango Ravioli, Coconut Tapioca and Ten Flavor Sorbet

We also drank a delicious bottle of white wine. It was DIRLER-CADÉ, Bergholtz Vieilles Vignes 2010 (noting here partly so when Preston turns to me and says “What was that wine we had at the Modern?” I can look it up … ) The service, like all USHG restaurants, was just wonderful. Warm and friendly, knowledgeable without being snotty.

Wonderful way to send off 2012 and get ready for 2013.

Modern Art, Modern Food

After the viewing the de Kooning exhibit, I met Preston for lunch at The Modern. This is Danny Meyer’s restaurant inside MoMA and it is wonderful.

Here’s what we ate, and every single bite was sublime:


Main Course, Preston: CHORIZO-CRUSTED COD with White Coco Bean Puree and Harissa Oil

Main Course, Tami: CREEKSTONE FARM BEEF TENDERLOIN “MIGNONETTE” with Butternut Squash, Chestnut and Juniper Berry Jus

Dessert, Preston: MILK CHOCOLATE AND HAZELNUT DACQUOISE with Raspberry Sorbet

Dessert, Tami: MANJARI CHOCOLATE PALET with Tahitian Vanilla Cremeux and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

(Sorry for the caps — I copied from the official menu. I have no ability to remember dishes once I’ve left the restaurant.)

per se

When Sam Sifton announced that he was stepping down as the restaurant critic at the New York Times he said that his last review would be his choice as best restaurant in all of New York City.

I was dying to know what he’d choose. I practically ran to the door that Wednesday morning, ripped open the paper and turned to Dining. Sifton had spoken: per se. As if it could be anything else. Preston and I had been thinking about going. A partner of his, a trained chef, had been wanting to go. Reservations were made and soon the big night was upon us.

{The bad news was that I am fighting off a cold, which is not how I’d choose to experience per se. Also we had to leave by 8:45 pm — we had a 6pm reservation — to close on a refi. Yes, really.}

It was outrageous in every possible way. Outrageously good, outrageously expensive, outrageously New York. So far over the top it can’t even see the top.

But man is the food good. So good. Made-by-God-good.

Highlights included the amuse bouche of cheese gougeres (“cheesy poufs!”) and then another of salmon tartare. The Oysters and Pearls — a signature dish — was as good as the hype. I also loved the salad which had an eggplant crisp that was so thin it was translucent. The butter poached lobster may have ruined me for any other lobster dish.

I could go on. The dinner did. Nine courses. Each is quite small, but nevertheless by the end you think you may never eat again. I’m embarrassed to admit that some macarons that came at the end went nearly untouched. (I did manage to stuff down a half of one flavored like a red hot. Sublime.) The flavors were just amazing from beginning to end. Go and read Sifton’s review — he’s much better at food journalism than I will ever be.

It was in every way an amazing experience.

per se
10 Columbus Circle @ the Time Warner Center
NYC 10019
(212) 823-9335

First, follow the lawyers to lunch

When you are on jury duty you have two chief concerns.  How long am I going to have to sit here?  What am I going to have for lunch?

I quickly discovered the perfect trick: follow the lawyers.  El Marinero Coffee Shop, directly across from the Civil Court in Jamaica, isn’t anything special.  But the food is quite yummy and the scene is truly amusing.  Huge tables of lawyers joking around and hoping from table to table like it’s a high school cafeteria.  They all know each other and they all know the waitresses.  You feel like you’ve crashed a private party.

Anyway, if you find yourself in Queens serving jury duty, stop in and join the party.

El Marinero Coffee Shop
89-18 Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica, New York

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In Da Club

My sister was in town this past weekend for our 9th Annual Anti-Superbowl Party.  My husband has been wanting to go to the 21 Club for a long time now, and it was just the right combination of special and New York kitschy to make me agree to go. 

I was worried, though.  Venerable institutions are not always known for great food.  I was pleasantly surprised — the food was much better than I expected.  I advise sticking with classics — Caesar salad, dry-aged sirloin, apple pie.  Wylie Dufresne would die of boredom in this kitchen, but sometimes old-fashioned American cuisine is the right answer. 

The service is over-the-top.  You glance in the direction of a waiter and three descend to cater to your merest whim.  If you are looking to impress, this place will not disappoint.

And my sister really loved it, which was the important part.

21 W 52nd Street at 5th Avenue (Map)
(212) 582-7200

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Yeah, it is that good

Last weekend my husband decided he had a hankering for corned beef.  We’ve been to 2nd Avenue Deli many times and in Queens we like Ben’s Best.  But a woman my husband works with declared that Katz’s Deli is the best. 

Katz’s was made famous as the place where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm in When Harry Met Sally.  The famous line, of course, was the woman sitting at the next table who declares, "I’ll having what she’s having."

I’m guessing she was having the pastrami.

Oh. my. god. 

Despite my Irish-Italian-Portugese origins, I come by pastrami naturally.  My family hails from Dorchester, Massachusetts — a working class neighborhood that, at one time, featured a mix of ethnicities including Irish, Italian and Jewish.  In any event, my mother used to make "hot pastrami" for my sister and I all the time.  We loved it.

Anyway, back to Katz’s.  I don’t know, what to say about pastrami?  If you like it, go there: you’ll love it.  The corned beef was also orgasm-worthy.  So maybe she was having that.

Either way, I’ll have more, please.

Side dishes are good, too.  Pickles were delicious.  Latkes are good, but, frankly, not as good as mine.

So, go already.  Eat.  They made this food for you, the least you can do is eat.

Katz’s Deli
205 E Houston Street at Ludlow Street


(212) 254-2246


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Thai One On

A colleague from Denver was visiting recently and had two requests: 1. Pay homage at Dean & Deluca in Soho and 2. Eat some yummy Asian food.  Luckily, we were able to fulfill both desires with one subway ride downtown from our Flatiron office. 

The place we originally hoped to try turned out to be closed, so we wondered down Spring Street and found refuge at Kin Khao. 

First, I must highly recommend the Watermelon Tini.  I’m usually not one to go for cocktails, but I could drink these far longer than is probably wise.

The fried spring rolls were filled with huge chunks of really fresh crab meat.  They made you realize how bad many spring rolls are.  The chicken satay was really good, too.  I mean, this shouldn’t be hard, right?  It’s grilled chicken and peanut sauce.  But most places the chicken has the consistency of cotton batting.  At Kin Khao the chicken was plump, moist and very flavorful.  High praise for the humble chicken.

I tend to be boring at Thai restaurants and order the Pad Thai.  I know what it is and I can pronounce it.  But, truthfully, this isn’t a bad strategy.  If the Pad Thai is bad, not much else is likely to be good.  At Kin Khao it’s excellent.  We also got a really delicious steak dish (I should’ve made a not of the name of the dish, but I was one Watermelon Tini in by then, so …).

I’m told, by both my husband and Fred Wilson’s blog, that the best Thai restaurant in New York is in Woodside, Queens.  I’m sure I’ll find out soon.  In the meantime, Kin Khao is definitely one to add to the Rolodex.

Kin Khao
171 Spring St, between Thompson Street and West Broadway
(212) 966-3939

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Cornered (Again)

Last night my husband was craving a burger and suggested TGIFridays or Santa Fe Steakhouse, both in our neighborhood.   It is my deeply held belief that eating in a chain restaurant anywhere within the five boroughs of New York City is a sin.  I parried with the suggestion that we try Corner Bistro, famed as the burger that Danny Meyer wanted to emulate at the Shake Shack.  Fortunately, I’d shared the heavenly Shake Shack experience with him so he was game.

Yum, yum, yum.  The burger, the fries, both delish.  I must confess that I think Shake Shack is better, but maybe I had one too many lunches there this summer.  But Corner Bistro is good and worth the wait to get a seat.  If you are not in the mood for a burger, go somewhere else.  The menu consists of burgers, a chicken sandwich, BLT, grilled cheese and bacon, and chili.  I think the only reason chili is on the menu is so they can make chili burgers.   It’s that kind of place.

Corner Bistro
331 W 4th St (Map)

Mon-Sat 11:30am- 4:00am
    Sun 12:00pm- 4:00am
(212) 242-9502

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