Have you ever had one of those places where you’ve driven by it dozen of times, always saying to yourself “You know, I should check that place out?”, but you never seem to get around to it? Santarpio’s Pizza in East Boston was one of those places for us. For years, every time we went to Logan Airport via the Callahan Tunnel and Route 1, we’d see this pizza place off to the side of Route 1A. You can’t really miss it, since the sign for Santarpio’s (I’ve heard some locals call it “Tarp’s”) on their second story is at eye level when you are on 1A. It’s been there forever, and I always wondered if it was any good. Well, recently I had to pick up my brother at the airport, and his schedule was convenient for doing a pizza run, so we finally went over to check it out.
Well, my flight from London back to Boston arrived at 6pm, so we decided this would be a good opportunity for Carol to pick me up at the airport, and go get something interesting for dinner. A few months before, Carol had found herself with some time to kill at the airport, and their group went over to South Station and walked over into South Boston to Sportello, a little Italian place. They rather enjoyed the trip, so I figured I’d go there as well to check it out. Sportello is a rather funky place. The main concept here is “modern interpretation of the classic diner”, and that describes the decor rather well: walking into Sportello, you immediate see two large U-shaped counters surrounded by stools, of the type that described most diners when I was little. The overall palette is “gleaming white”, and like an actual diner, the bulk of the food prep is done to-order, right in front of you.
Well, the 2012 round of travels continues, this time with a trip to Iceland (for pleasure, it’s been on our to-do list for years). But before I could start reviewing Icelandic food joints, we had to actually get to Iceland. Which means a plane flight. Which means airports. Which often means airport food. As I’ve commented before, airport food is generally a dismal experience. Airport dining options are generally limited, overpriced, poor quality, and, bizarrely, often seemingly unaware of the fact that they are located in an airport and their customers have planes to catch (Yes, Todd English’s Bonfire at Logan, I’m still pissed at you…). But we again found ourselves with a red-eye flight across the Atlantic, and our bus schedule leaving us some time to kill in Terminal E before our flight. Not having quite enough time to take the Silver Line over to South Station, we had to find some dinner at the airport. While I’ve had some decent meals at the restaurant located right outside security in Terminal E, I decided that this time we’d mix it up, and walk over to Terminal C (as an aside, it’s an interesting walk, since you go through the remnants of Terminal D, which has been subsumed by Terminals C and E) to check out the Logan Airport edition of the Legal Sea Foods chain (this is their “Legal Sea Foods” location in Terminal C, they also have a “Legal C Bar” in Terminal B, and “Legal Test Kitchen” in Terminal A)….
I rather enjoy the fact the Boston has a reasonable good Chinatown, although like most “Chinatowns” over the last several decades it has really become more of a “Pan Asian Town” than just Chinese places, with a particularly strong Vietnamese and Korean presence as well. But it’s still the home to several well-regarded Chinese restaurants. In particular, Gourmet Dumpling House and Hei La Moon have both been on my “hit list” for a while… but they’ve both foiled my past attempts at dining, either through being intractably busy (well, it didn’t help that I didn’t check the calendar last time, and showed up the bay before Chinese New Year last time) or arriving just after they stopped serving. But I’ve been trying to get back there. Well, two weekends ago, I finally had a good opportunity: our friend Bridget wanted to celebrate her birthday with an outing to Boston. So we all piled in two cars with a bunch of friends, and stop number one was… dim sum at Hei La Moon…
Several years ago, when I first starting watching Iron Chef (of which I’ve tired), there were frequent references to serving items shabu shabu style , in which thinly sliced meat and veggies are served along with simmering broth, and you prepare your meal by swishing the meat in the broth. Basically, making your own soup at the table. It sounded intriguing, but, until recently, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to try it out. However, after a recent BeerAdvocate event in Boston, a group of us were looking for some interesting dining in Chinatown, and I recalled hearing of a Shabu-shabu joint that had decent reviews. And, indeed, at 16 Tyler Street (across the parking lot from the Bao Bao Bakery where we always get our post-beer-festival bubble tea), was Shabu Zen.