Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: The Salty Pig, Boston MA

The universe of excellent pizza keeps expanding. In Boston, I've had the legendary pies at Regina, Emma's, and Santarpio's. I've had the world-class new pizza at Picco and Coppa, just one block apart in the Back Bay. With a little research, I found one other pizza destination - The Salty Pig - that was within walking distance of the Hynes Convention Center.

The Salty Pig is not, technically, a pizzeria. According to their website, the restaurant has "an emphasis on charcuterie ... in the form of house made meats and hand selected cheeses designed to be mixed and matched to create personalized charcuterie boards. Fresh, locally grown seasonal ingredients rotate frequently to make stone-grilled pizzas, hand made pastas and regional Italian entrees."
The pizza prep area
On a wet and cold night in late March, I arrived with two colleagues. We ordered some draft pints from the short but solid beer selection, such as Allagash White and Solemn Oath's "Punk Rock for Rich Kids," a single hop Belgo-American pale ale. 
The arugula salad
I began my meal with an $11 arugula salad, and it was excellent mix of fresh greens, garnishes, and a zesty dressing.

We fashioned a charcuterie board for sharing, with these components:

  • Finocchiona - Tuscan Dry Cured Salumi with Fennel & Garlic from Portland, OR ($7)
  • Mortadella - Bolognian Emulsified Sausage from SP Kitchen, MA, with pistachio ($7)
  • Holden Trail - Raw Sheep Milk cheese from Grafton, VT ($7)
  • Stilton cheese from Nottinghamshire, ENG ($8)
  • Marcona Almonds ($3)
  • Eggplant Sott’ Aceto ($2)
  • Marinated Olives ($4)

The charcuterie was served with wonderfully crisp diagonal slices of grilled Italian bread. Both cheeses and both meats were richly flavorful. We were pretty much unanimous that this was the best charcuterie selection we'd experienced. I was particularly taken with the mortadella, which had a wonderful garlic aroma and flavor.

The Ventresca
We ended with two of the large personal-sized Neapolitan pizzas, the Margherita (tomato, Mozzarella, basil, $13) and the Ventresca (pork belly roulade, escarole, ricotta, lemon zest, $15). The Margherita was classic in construction and execution. 
The Margherita
Like many Neapolitans, it was soft and damp in the center, but not ruinously. I did feel that the crust's flavor came up short of expectations, especially after the wonderful bread that came with the charcuterie. The pie also needed salt.
Slice of the Margherita
The Ventresca was a lot more interesting. It was fully flavored and presented a rich combination of aromas, textures, and tastes. The escarole was a particularly inspired choice, and it tasted as though it had been sauteed in a rich broth. Ricotta, because it is wet and heavy, can ruin a pizza, especially a delicate Neapolitan.  Here, though, it was applied judiciously and was in ideal balance with the other toppings.
Nice leopard spots underneath
All told, this was very good pizza, but don't go to The Salty Pig for the pizza. Go for the charcuterie. The salads were superb, the beer selection well-chosen, the charcuterie world-class, and our server Lizzy was patient and helpful. 

The Salty Pig was a warm and welcoming destination on a damp and dreary night. When pizza this good takes a back seat, take note!

Salty Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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