Take me to a sub place, and I never fail to order the Italian hoagie. I can’t resist the salty cured meats, spicy peppers, sharp provolone and vinegar-y bite.
Fresh out of college, I moved to the North End of Boston to work on a campaign. If you’re not familiar with the North End of Boston, it’s their city’s equivalent of “Little Italy” that you’ll find in several major U.S cities.
I’ve visited other Italian neighborhoods on the East coast, and I can tell you the food in Boston’s North End is first-rate. The pastas, prosciutto, olive oil, burrata, bread, wine, calamari, wood-grilled pizzas, arancini, carpaccios and I could go on – are, and I mean it, out-of-this-world.
Things you will see while you’re in the North End – two old men smoking cigars on a bench at dawn arguing tirelessly in Italian, an inebriated bar full of soccer fans screaming at a tiny, black and white TV, loud, pinky ring-wearing large mafiosos sitting on too-small chairs sipping espressos, and tourists carrying blue bags filled with cannolis from the rivalrous Maria’s and Mike’s pastry shops.
My favorite haunt for subs and pizza was always Il Panino’s Express, which appears to have shut down since I lived there. The tortellini with ham from its flagship restaurant, Trattoria Il Panino, was arguably one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had.
And then there was the great divider. Just like the Yanny and Laurel debacle, half of the campaign staff favored Ernesto’s Pizza – the other half swore by Regina Pizzeria.
I was team Regina – all the way. They have a lot of grease on their pizza – so what? That’s what makes it good!
For your subs, you walk over to Dino’s or Pauli’s on Salem Street, the “hidden” street that runs parallel to Hanover.
I was partial to Dino’s because their “12-inch subs” were actually 16-inch subs if you measured them. And at the end of the Salem Street, you’ll find Neptune Oyster House.
From my experience, this is the only way to get a table at Neptune Oyster House. You put in your name at 10 or 11AM in the morning. They call you at 9PM to let you know a table has opened up, and you proceed to run, or fuck it, sprint to the restaurant within a 15 minute time-frame to secure your table. If you don’t make it, you’re shit out of luck, because they gave your table to someone else.
This hoagie pizza has all the same flavors that remind me of my time there – you have to go for high-quality meats and cheeses. If you want to splurge sparingly, Italian-imported, very sharp provolone makes a huge difference.
If you’re ever in the Boston area, do yourself a favor. Head over to the North End, grab the first table you see outside, and enjoy a hot, greasy slice of sausage pizza and a Peroni while you people watch.
After a few minutes of sitting there, seeing sweet old Italian grandmothers shuffle down the sidewalk on their way to Sunday Mass, you’ll understand why it was so easy for me to fall in love with the place.
I N G R E D I E N T S
This is a large pizza. Serves 2 to 4.
F o r t h e P i z z a D o u g h ( A d a p t e d c / o t h e B a r e f o o t C o n t e s s a )
- 2 / 3 cups warm water
- 1 package yeast
- 1 / 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 1 / 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
- 1 teaspoons salt
F o r t h e V i n a i g r e t t e
- 1 / 2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 / 4 cup olive oil
- 1 / 8 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 / 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Pinch of sugar
F o r t h e T o p p i n g s
- 3 / 4 cup sharp provolone, shredded
- 4 oz. mortadella, diced
- 4 oz. capicola, diced
- 4 oz. salami, diced
- 4 oz. pepperoni, diced
- 1 cup lettuce, sliced thinly
- 1 / 4 red onion, sliced thinly
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- 1 / 4 cup cherry pepper spread or jarred minced roasted red peppers
D I R E C T I O N S
- Preheat oven to 500*.
- Combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1 1 / 2 cups flour, then the salt, and mix.
- While mixing, add 1/ 2 more cup of flour.
- Knead the dough on low speed for 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
- Remove the dough and put on a floured board or stone countertop, and knead by hand a dozen times.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Roll and stretch the ball into a rough 16-inch circle using a rolling pin, and place it on a pizza baking sheet.
- Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Pour half the vinaigrette on the dough, spreading so all of the dough is evenly covered with the vinaigrette.
- Top evenly with the shredded provolone, followed by the deli meats.
- Put the pizza in the oven, baking for about 15 minutes, until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling hot.
- Remove the pizza from the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Once cooled, top evenly with the shredded lettuce, then the red onion, roma tomatoes and cherry pepper spread or marinated red peppers. Finally, pour the remaining vinaigrette over the top of the pizza.
- Slice into 8 slices with a pizza roller. Enjoy immediately!