Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA
Today was a red letter day for food in Haverhill. Two little red restaurants are now available downtown to tempt your taste buds.
BEACH PIZZA 181 MERRIMACK STREET, DOWNTOWN HAVERHILL 978.377.0056
The Heartbeat of Haverhill took time out in the middle of the day to run an errand downtown on Merrimack Street and guess what we saw across from Shawmut Property Management? A little red building at 181 Merrimack Street with an open door and a sign touting “Beach Pizza”. THOH finally had a chance to figure out what all the ardent fans are talking about. We had never tried or even heard about beach pizza before this place was in its final stages of completion.
THOH did what any self-respecting reporter would do and went in for the story and a slice. There was a steady stream of traffic at 1:30pm on Monday afternoon, and the shop just opened last Thursday. Obviously word of mouth from beach pizza enthusiasts is strong.
Beach pizza is a pizza sold by the slice and known by its shape – square slices. According to the proprietor it has a thin crispy crust with hand folded edges. It is not made with a rubber mat of cheese like some pizza; it is artistically sprinkled with cheese, and if a customer wants extra cheese, they throw a slice of provolone on top. But the sauce is the secret and the only thing The Heartbeat of Haverhill was not allowed to photograph. I spoke with Marco Ribeiro (head chef) and Ron Massa, a long time beach pizza lineman, and could get neither of them to spill the beans about the secret sauce. Some call it sweet but it’s not too sweet, it’s also smooth with no visible lumps of tomato.
While there, we did run into one customer who peppered the chefs with questions – is it more like Tripoli, Christy’s or Salisbury or……..? Best answer: “It’s like all of those only better. It is unique unto itself.” Come to find out -the inquisitive customer makes beach pizza at the beach, he was here in Haverhill to check out the competition. Imagine that a beach restaurateur worried that people might hear how good this pizza is and ditch the beach for a slice in downtown Haverhill! Word travels fast among beach pizza lovers.
THOH thinks everyone should give it a try; it’s very reasonably priced and very fresh and that crispy crunch could be more addictive than potato chips. We were however able to pull ourselves away after one slice, because dear readers, we were just that excited to bring this story to you.
Next time THOH will try a cannoli. You know Beach Pizza is serious about these little treasures when they only fill them to order to keep them crisp. Crispy pizza, crispy cannoli…is this a theme?
Heading out to Rte 495 from downtown, THOH saw picnic tables and people and a lunch menu at the long closed little corner store. Was the store that offered country barbecue and clam chowder finally open?
It is…sort of. The grand opening is September 15 but there are some lunch time chances to try the place out with dozens of samples of New England based products and colorful varieties of BBQ sauce. And there is a limited menu with a fantastically diverse selection – pulled pork $6, Italian sausage $7, small clam chowder $3, and lobster rolls $12.99.
Cheryl Poley, the manager, enthusiastically outlined everything they offered from the house smoked meats (they have their own designated pit master), to the fresh shop items, and their search for the perfect chip. Everything sounded great, but they had me at lobster roll.
This is a big roll. It looks like a hot dog roll but is denser, deeper to hold more lobster, golden hue due, we guess, to more egg yolk in the dough and grilled on a butter topped griddle. THOH typically throws out the bread when I get a lobster roll but this one was worth eating, even if it had arrived without the mound of big chunky lobster meat. Tommy G. is absolutely on a roll with his lobster rolls. THOH got a small sample of the pulled pork. Believe The Heartbeat of Haverhill when we say – it is amazing…. super tender with yummy smokiness. They ask if you want sauce, because the meat is so fabulous, you really don’t want to hide that flavor. We tried a little sauce. Mmmmmm. It was good enough for me to feel guilty about eating it without my formerly southern husband with me to share.
Outside at the picnic table I met two very satisfied customers. Relative newcomers to Haverhill, Eric Robinson and his very young looking mother Florence, asked a police officer where they could get a typical New England clam chowder; she’d never had that before. He directed them to the Country Market & Smokehouse, because he’d been impressed when he visited last week when the soft open started. They arrived with limited expectations, never believing that Haverhill could be as good a food town as Chicago (where they moved from) but Country Market proved them wrong, and Florence exclaimed “This is as good a sausage as I’ll ever get outside of Chicago”. And Eric gave two thumbs up for the ribs and cornbread combo.
The Heartbeat of Haverhill doesn’t know if the super inexpensive “Tent Prices” will last forever so check this place out for lunch before the Grand Opening on September 15.
If you visit either of these little gems, please remember to tell them you read about them hear at The Heartbeat of Haverhill.
(c)2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell