This New England city has pies that can compete.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
Tell us about your first impressions when you arrived.
The Salty Pig, an Italian-accented palace to pork in Copley Place, is all about house-made charcuterie, which the kitchen uses to top its imaginative pies. The lovingly made, Neapolitan-inspired pies join a menu of customizable meat and cheese boards, fresh pastas, snacks, and salads. The industrial-ish space—with its largely open kitchen, metal stools, high-top tables, chalkboard-style menus, tall, black-painted ceilings, and exposed ducts—feels welcoming and bustling.
What's the crowd like?
Earlier on: a mix of families and coworkers from Back Bay and the South End. At lunch: office workers and folks talking a break from the Copley Place mall and other nearby shops. Since it’s across the street from Back Bay Station, you may also catch a crew waiting for a delayed Amtrak train. As it gets later—the place stays open till midnight most evenings and 1:00 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays—a restaurant-industry crowd piles in.
What should we be drinking?
Sip your way through the extensive, often esoteric, New England craft beers, or pick a glass or bottle from the small, curated wine list, which features mostly Old World bottlings from Italy, France, and Spain. You can go large or small scale with some of the Italian-accented cocktails, too, several of which—Spritzes, Bellinis, and more—can be had by the pitcher. (There’s not a full liquor license, so the cocktails are made with cordials and amaro.)
Main event: the pizza. Give us the lowdown—especially what not to miss.
Chef Michael Bergin—a Massachusetts local who spent time working at top Italian spots A Voce and Del Posto in New York City—puts a heavy focus on quality ingredients and employs traditional practices to make 12-inch Neapolitan-style pies. He uses a high-gluten, high-protein flour and a slow fermentation process to get his dough just right; when it comes out of the domed, super-hot oven, it has a thin, crunchy bottom and a fluffy crust at the edges. The plum tomatoes, meanwhile, come from the southern Italian region of Basilicata, where they’re preserved in nothing more than vinegar and salt, and he makes his mozzarella in-house from domestic curd. Some pizzas change seasonally—say, an autumnal duck confit pie—but the year-round standbys make the most of that house-made charcuterie. The eponymous Salty Pig, topped with a variety of pork parts, mustard, pale ale caramel, and arugula, is a constant presence, and there’s always something featuring the restaurant’s own Italian sausage.
How did the front-of-house folks treat you?
The waitstaff knows their stuff, and they’re entirely hospitable. But service is casual.
What’s the real-real on why we’re coming here?
There’s an elevated element to the food here to be sure—careful sourcing and tried-and-true technique underpin everything the kitchen turns out—but, when it comes down to it, this place is all about Italian comfort food pizza, pasta and snacks. Come with a crowd, come by yourself, come with a date, come when Amtrak fails you, or come when you just can’t traipse through the mall any longer—but don’t come expecting formality. And in the warmer months—yes, Boston has warmer months—don’t miss the outdoor patio on the side of a Copley Place public plaza.