It’s official. The south shore’s favorite food is Bar Pizza.
Now, I’m a pizza fan from way back. Hand tossed or deep dish. White, with red sauce, or even pesto. Home made, for dining in, or take out. I love ‘em all.
My first gourmet pizza was at Figs in Charlestown, probably a decade or more ago. I’ll admit to a fondness for Pappy’s greasy pizza in Manchester, New Hampshire as long as it comes with sausage, mushroom and anchovies. (Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve even been known to chow down on Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza.) But the all-time best pizza I ever had was at an otherwise unremarkable street corner in Rome where they cut your slice with a pair of scissors, and charge you by the ounce.
I even make pizza myself at home about once a week for dinner. My favorite toppings are fresh mozzarella and fried eggplant, or goat cheese with kalamata olives and arugala.
Despite all this personal history, the delicacy known as bar pizza was heretofore unknown to this author.
In the past week I’ve been making up for lost time and trying my share of bar pizza from some of the south shore’s most popular establishments.
My first foray into the world of Bar Pizza was at Poopsie’s in Pembroke. Poopsie’s is located in a strip mall on Rte. 139 with…well, it doesn’t matter what else is in that strip mall because you’d never go to any of those places anyway.
I walked into a dim, but busy bar, where everyone seemed to know each other. My friend and I found a table to the right, near the window. I was a little hesitant at first, but considered it a good sign when the waitress brought us crushed red pepper and grated cheese with our table settings. Poopsie’s doesn’t take credit cards, but you won’t need them. We ordered two sodas, an individual garden salad, two 2-topping pizzas, and one bottled beer – all for less than $28.
My friend chose pepper and onion. I, of course, chose mushroom and anchovy. It was perfection! The crust was thin and crispy but not burnt, the sauce was flavorful, and they used full-sized anchovy fillets, which delivered a pow of salty goodness in every bite. Perfect with my Bass Ale. I couldn’t even finish the last miniature slice.
I experienced a few misses as well. There’s a joint in Weymouth where they advertise $2 bar pizzas on Wednesday nights. Let me just say: “You get what you pay for.” Sure it was $2, but the crust was soggy, the sauce was too sweet; it was disappointing all around.
Nothing could be more dissimilar from a $2 bar pizza than a $150 hamburger. Something I also tried this week for the first time.
I just can hear you all now. “What?! $150 for a hamburger? Doesn’t she know there’s a recession going on?”
Before you think I’ve completely gone off my rocker, let me explain. There’s an inside “joke” among general aviation pilots about the $150 Hamburger; it’s when they fly from one airport to another just to stop over for lunch. Excessive I know, but totally worth it!
My pilot (and boss) flew from us from Plymouth Municipal Airport to Nantucket for the afternoon on a Cessna 172. Our plane was part of the fleet at Alpha One Flight School. Alpha One has been training pilots since 1987. They feature over a dozen aircraft for training, rental, or photo flights, and are open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
We got to the airport around 11:00 a.m. There’s a number of safety checks that one must go through before take off — actually before you even get on board! (Sort of like what you should do before embarking on a cross-country car ride.) Then there’s the whole pre-flight checklist. I didn’t realize that we’d both be wearing headsets with microphones – it’s the only way to communicate with each other – and sort of added to my sense of adventure.
It was a clear, beautiful day – the kind pilots dream about – with light variable winds. Take off was smoother than I expected. My first impression was that our plane felt like a balloon bobbing around in the air. Once we got over water though all that changed, and the more familiar feeling of being propelled through the air and took over.
For a few brief minutes I even got to fly the plane myself! Granted, once my pilot asked me to turn the plane just the least bit, I threw up my hands and immediately surrendered the controls, but it was fun nonetheless.
About a half hour later we landed on Nantucket. Our landing was (thankfully) just as unremarkable as our take-off, and surprisingly smoother than most commercial flights I’ve been on.
We “parked” the plane where we were directed, and took a $12 cab ride to The Brant Point Grill at the posh White Elephant Hotel.
We dined al fresco, on the expanded Harborside Terrace. The menu features delicious, if not pricey salads, seafood, and daily specials. I chose the Ahi Tuna Burger, my companion the FireCone Thai Beef Salad (which I wholeheartedly recommend). It was the most delightful lunch I’d ever had. It’s true what they say about getting there being half the fun.