Of all the foods I write about, pizza is without a doubt my favorite. I know I've featured exotic toppings like cold cheese, mustard pie and hot oil, but I’m really a purist at heart. My go-to is a traditional sauce and cheese, maybe throw on some charred
pepperoni or freshly chopped mushroom and that's all I need. But nowadays a Buffalo Bacon Ranch and Cheeseburger Deluxe pizza are as commonplace as sausage and peppers. It doesn't matter where you are in the country, it seems like pizzerias are all trying to outdo one another with wacky pies combos. In Sheboygan Wisconsin you can pair your fried cheese curds & "Milwaukee's Beast" with a BLT Pizza from Faye’s. And Shot Gun Dan’s in Little Rock Arkansas will have you admitting to inhaling (get it) slices of their amazingly decadent chicken, bacon and mushroom pie smothered in alfredo sauce. But despite all the creative concoctions, there's only one place to try a Baked Bean Bar Pizza. (pictured above) -the South Shore.
South Shore Bar Pizza (SSBP)
South Shore Bar Pizza is a unique regional style of personal sized pizzas found in bars, taverns and the omnipresent South Shore "cafe" which is basically a colloquial term for bar or tavern. And while I'm sure there are a lot of South Shores throughout the country, I'm talking about the South Shore of Boston, the swath of Eastern Coast that runs from the city to the gateway of Cape Cod.
Say South Shore again, I dare you!
It's widely accepted that the bar pie originated at the Cape Code Cafe in Brockton Ma sometime during WII and has since spread into every local watering hole in the area.
Check out this informative Edible South Mass article for classic places to visit. Bar pizza has a crispy, cracker like crust that's baked in a 10-inch steel pan, in many cases these pans are decades old. The pans are typically prepped in the advance and stacked in anticipation of the dinner rush. Sauce and a blend of cheeses, are spread to the surface leaving
very little visible crust. Those in the know ask for laced edges, the intentional crispy burnt consequence of cheese falling in between the crust and pan. The chewy burnt laced edge is a signature of the SSBP! The pizza's undercarriage is sturdy allowing it to support copious amounts of toppings like linguica (local smoked Portuguese Sausage), and hamburg, which is ground beef but for some reason they leave of the (er). I know that Bostonians drop the R, but this seems a lil ridiculous.
And of course, baked beans!
This Ain't Your Mom's Baked Beans
Okay, I know what you are thinking, but trust me this is really good. First of all, it's not the backyard barbecue, potato salad on a paper plate kinda baked beans. It's also not a can of beans poured onto a dough. It's a unique blend of tasty beans, with equal
amounts of chopped smoked salami, diced onion and cheese in a reddish-brown sauce. Each slice soaks up the dripping salty juice like a southern biscuit somehow resulting in "no flop". It's a weighty slice without feeling overly heavy. The Lynwood Cafe in Randolph has been a neighborhood bar since 1949 and is credited with inventing this masterpiece. They've mastered the bar pie and have a legion of regulars coming in every night for the same meal. Around the corner, Hoey's is basically a pizza counter inside the AMVETS Post 51, a volunteer organization for American Veterans, also open to the public. The hall oozes with blue collar American pride and serves the alcohol from their large bar, while Hoey's makes the pizza. Their baked bean pizza is little thicker and substitutes bacon for the salami. Their sauce is also a bit zestier than Lynwood, giving all the more reason to order another pint. For a newer take, there's Geri's, a traditional pizzeria in nearby Avon that also sells baked bean pizza. I'm not saying don't try it, definitely give it a shot. I'm saying don't try it before Lynwood Cafe or Hoey's, that's all.
Bar Pie isn't just food, it's a way of life. It's woven into the South Shore cultural fabric. Check out South Shore Social Club on Facebook for reviews and mouthwatering pics and start planning your trip. This regional style has quickly become one of my favorites and there are many classic cafes and bars all worthy of a visit. But if you want a bean pizza, you'll need to add Randolph to your itinerary. You can trust me, I'm a food blogger.