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Beantown Pastrami Co.: a Taste of New York City at the Boston
Public Market in Boston, Massachusetts
Pastrami sandwich from Beantown Pastrami Co. in Boston.
Article and photos by Eric Hurwitz. Article
created on 2/5/2018.
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Boston, Mass., has it all: a remarkable sense of history and
preservation, renowned educational institutions, beloved sports teams,
world-class museums and an overall urban vibe that justifies its
designation as "The Hub of the Universe."
Truth be told, however, Boston had been missing one crucial element,
until recently: a place to enjoy a really good New York-Style pastrami sandwich!
In the northeast United States, New York City has traditionally taken top honors for
the best pastrami sandwiches -- most notably, Katz's Deli on the Lower
East Side. They have been around since 1888 and represent a critical
part of The Big Apple's renowned pastrami culture by curing raw
meat, and then seasoning, smoking and steaming it for that magical
On the other hand, many Boston
delis and restaurants that tried to promote their pastrami sandwiches
as having that New York City taste never specialized in pastrami and often barely registered
a notch or two above store-bought deli brands. Through the years,
frequent conversations among locals about "finally" finding pastrami
comparable to New York City in the Boston area seemed as unconvincing
as the pastrami itself. Out tastes buds told us otherwise.
That all changed in August 2015 when Beantown Pastrami Co. opened in
the Boston Public Market. Owner Joe Langhan -- one of the founders of
The Food Network and a producer there (he created Emeril Live) -- embarked on a new
career based on his passion for pastrami. He took a cue from the gold
standard of New York delis like
Katz's, and through a painstaking process found the ideal local
supplier to make his vision come true.
"Our goal was to have people say 'You're almost as good as Katz's, or
as good,'" said Langhan, 67, a Woburn native and Gloucester, Mass.,
resident. "We went through virtually every processor in New England and
did blind taste testing until we found the best one."
Beantown Pastrami Co. at the Boston Public Market in Boston.
The black pastrami -- heavy on ground coriander, mustard seed, garlic
and onion -- goes though several hours of preparation unlike most other
deli pastrami served in local restaurants. The final product features a
smoky, juicy, tender beef flavor that is, thankfully, also served in ample portions.
"It's easier and cheaper, but nowhere as good" said Langhan, of the
commonly-found deli pastrami. "If we sold it in a deli and opened at
10, we would have the pastrami ready at 9:55. Here, we prep, steam,
take it out and hard carve. It's about a two-and-a-half or three hour
process for us to get the pastrami ready."
Tray of pastrami from Beantown Pastrami Co.
Beantown Pastrami Co. Manager Matt Marcella gets up every morning,
takes "The T" in from his native East Boston, and brings his innate
hard work ethic to the counter. He prepares the food, takes orders,
trades quips with surrounding food vendor staff in the Boston Public
Market, and communicates like a seasoned pro with his boss, Joe.
You can tell they like and respect each other with their good
camaraderie, but when push comes to
shove Matt is, first and foremost, laser-focused on getting the
product ready. It's like he
approaches his job with the precision of a world-class musician --
making sure to perfect every note of food preparation. He is a jack of
all trades and a master of everything at Beantown Pastrami Co.
"What's different about this place is in a typical restaurant, you have
help to work the front of a restaurant and help to work the back of a
restaurant -- here, you have to find the balance to work both the front
and back," said Marcella. "I enjoy my job very much and love the food!"
Matt Marcella carves pastrami at Beantown Pastrami.
"This (the pastrami sandwich) is very good," said
Musselman, a repeat customer on lunch break from his state job at
nearby City Hall. "The pastrami compares favorably with New York City."
Regulars return to Beantown Pastrami Co. in lines that also comprise a steady flow of newcomers on a daily basis,
and, like Musselman, usually come from their workplaces in Boston, or
from their nearby residences. The tourist crowd also frequents Beantown
Pastrami Co. as the Boston Public Market has wonderfully evolved as a major
Boston attraction in a relatively short amount of time. Located across
the street from the North End of Boston and within walking distance of
Faneuil Hall, the 40
vendors at the indoor, year-round Boston Public Market focus on fresh,
locally-sourced food from Massachusetts and all of New England. The
colors and vibrancy of the food from local farmers, fishermen and
food entrepreneurs is a beautiful sight to behold and includes produce,
poultry, fish, bread and baked goods. Many kids activities, cooking
classes and demos, and various other events help elevate a fun food
experience even that much more.
The novel concept of the Boston
Pastrami Co. fits in quite well with the Boston Public Market theme. Beantown
Pastrami Co. makes sure that its food offerings tap into New England
sourcing with as much local meats and other ingredients as possible
from New England
farms, some beef from Maine, some turkey from Massachusetts and Rhode
Island, mustards from Raye's Mustard Mills in Eastport, Maine, and
fresh bread baked daily from Malden.
"Vendors at the Boston Public Market sell a lot of specialty products
and are very passionate about what they do," said Langhan. "The market
itself is always friendly and welcoming, not rushed and impersonal. The
location is perfect, too, with first-timers and repeat customers coming
all the time from work, the North End, Beacon Hill, other parts of
Boston. We feel so fortunate to be here."
Boston Public Market.
Unlike delis and restaurants that sometimes have menus seemingly as long as a
Tolstoy or Milton novel, Beantown Pastrami Co. centers in on pastrami
and a few close food cousins like corned beef, hot dogs, fresh local
roasted turkey, sour pickles, potato salad and baked beans. Of course,
rye bread and mustard (deli, yellow and dijon) and Swiss and American
cheeses accompany the pastrami, as well as the other selections, at
Beantown Pastrami. The availability of Ipswich Ale Brewery or various
soda pop flavors doesn't hurt the overall experience one bit!
Greg Bigelow, 44, of Brookline, Mass., considers himself a regular
and true believer in Beantown Pastrami Co., dating back to fall 2015.
I'd consider myself a regular—I typically go once a week, regularly
unless I'm traveling," said Bigelow. "When the Public Market opened, I
tried out a number of places for lunch. I loved that first pastrami
sandwich and started coming back more frequently as I weeded out other
places. I experimented with different bread/mustard/cheese options
before finding my personal favorite: marble rye, dijon, Swiss. Part of
the reason I keep coming back is the deliciousness of the pastrami
itself: thick cut, juicy, intensely flavored. Part is the presentation:
fresh bread never soggy, cheese and mustard perfectly proportioned,
pickle if you want it. Part is the staff: friendly and clearly happy
bringing pastrami to their customers."
Bigelow doesn't relegate himself to a basic pastrami sandwich, however.
"Beantown Pastrami creates special sandwiches every couple months which
are great fun to try," said Bigelow. "I'll often alternate special with
my regular... for one of my favorite special sandwiches (North East by
South West), I switched to the special for its duration; it was
pastrami topped with diced jalapeño and cheddar and there was something
beautifully complementary between the jalapeño and pastrami that I
couldn't get enough of -- the sweet pastrami and heat of the jalapeño
was a magical combination."
Sandwiches can be made as a single or double size (the amply-served
single should suffice for most). Besides pastrami, other favorites, in
order of popularity include The
Rachel (pastrami, cole slaw, baby Swiss, Russian dressing), The
Reuben (corned beef, sauerkraut, baby Swiss and Russian Dressing), the
Thanksgiving (roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish and mayo) and
plain corned beef sandwich.
Grilled reuben, made with corned beef, baby Swiss cheese, homemade pickled cabbage, Russian dressing on light rye.
Specials on this writer's visit included a pastrami grilled cheese
sandwich, white bean and pastrami soup and a pastrami dog. The "no
chemical" hot dog is steamed in with pastrami juice and stuffed with
pastrami! Peppers, onions and cheese help the mouthwatering cause that
Pastrami Dog from Beantown Pastrami Co.
The Rachel from Beantown Pastrami Co.
Ultimately, the Boston food scene has clearly become more complete with
the presence of Beantown Pastrami Co.
"For most customers, it is an evolving process," said Langhan. "They
start with pastrami and then something else. The clientèle is looking
for something way above average and we strive to do just that... I go
to places myself that have big menus and say to friends, 'This is the
you should get.' Here, we focus on just a few things and customers love
Beantown Pastrami Co. is located at
100 Hanover St., Boston MA. Tel. 617-943--0705. Hours: Monday-Thursday
10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday 10
a.m.-8 p.m. Web site: http://www.beantownpastrami.com.
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/beantownpastrami. Twitter
Boston Public Market web site: http://www.bostonpublicmarket.org
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Related article: Discovering wonderful homemade Italian foods at Oliva's Market in Milford, Mass.
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