I promised that one thing this blog would be about is food. Here are two important food-related updates.
This week I had a stupendous eating experience when I happened to stop into John’s Bakery (31 Poplar Street) in Roslindale Square during lunchtime. I didn’t provide a link because they don’t have a website, which is part of its charm. John’s is well-known locally for its fresh Italian bread, both scali and regular. It also offers a small collection of Italian pastries and cookies. That stuff is all good, but the pizza is amazing. Over the course of a month, I never seemed to be able to hit the place at the right time. Finally, this week I spotted a white-haired lady with a hairnet eating a piece of pizza and decided to try one myself.
I was astonished. Even though some local old-timers, such as police I knew in City Hall who had grown up in Roslindale, recounted their daily ritual of buying a slice after school in the 1960s, I discounted this information. I shouldn’t have. With the exception of the original Pizzeria Regina and Santarpios in East Boston, the pizza rivalled the best I have ever eaten. A super-thin crust constructed from fresh dough, tangy sauce, flavorable cheese, the slice transcended the ordinary. John’s is not open after 5 p.m.
Last Saturday, my wife and I met a couple who live way up on the North Shore. We needed a halfway point. On a lark, I suggested the famous Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus. Although I grew up on the South Shore, I am fairly familiar with this strip of Route 1. The restaurant was much changed from my last visit in 1992. Back then, with Szechuan cuisine having generally supplanted the American-Cantonese cuisine of my childhood, Kowloon was tired and past its prime. If what I experienced on Saturday night, the restaurant is back in a big way. A huge crowd filled the waiting area. We were given a number in the manner of the system of the fading giant across the highway, The Hilltop Steakhouse.
The meal, limited to the traditional menu by my urging, was o.k. The flaming pu-pu platter – the best item really — offered meaty pork-strips and fat chicken wings. General Gau’s chicken, pork fried rice, shrimp and brocolli were all fresh and well-made. None of us were unsatisfied with the meal. Quality was better than I hoped for. We were all taken with the incredible spectacle, which included a live lounge band playing “Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing.
–edit: For years, the Kowloon benefited from the ceaseless efforts of Eddie Andelman, the patriarch of the food-loving and business savvy Andelman family (creators of the Phantom Gourmet t.v. show. Eddie always referred to his wife Judy as “the Fabulous Judy”.) It is in honor of Eddie and Judy that I give credit where credit is due. It was my wife, the Fabulous Dana, who suggested we dine at Kowloon, not me.