While the lunchtime options in the Financial District and Leather District neighborhoods include a fair share of sandwich shops, this newcomer Hot Tomatoes - is a standout.
Ignore the construction pit that looks like a mini-Big Dig in between Hot Tomatoes and The Good Life, you can still get in and business is up and running. The construction is not affecting HT's water, gas or plumbing, so don't let it scare you off. (Mostly) the opening week's long lines have calmed down, too. Lunch business is brisk, and with good reason.
What do we crave now? A good value. Hot Tomatoes delivers. And, they actually deliver too, but first, let's talk about really fresh, upscale sandwiches and pizza.
Sandwiches at Hot Tomatoes run the gamut from a house-style Sloppy Joe (The HT Sloppy Joey) with Carmen's Bolognese to a classic Reuben. Many of the choices show evidence of HT's lineage - they belong to the same family as Carmen's in the North End. Here are a couple of descriptions to whet your appetite:
- The HT Sloppy Joe: "Carmen" Bolognese, melted Val d'Aosta fontina, caramelized onions on ciabatta bread hot out of the oven. $9.50
- Northender: Crispy thin chicken cutlet with aged provolone, arugula, and balsamic vineigrette. $8.50
- I-Talian: Hot and sweet sausages, broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and evoo. $9.50
- The Green Monster: fresh mozzarella, arugula, artichokes, grilled eggplant, zucchini, roasted red peppers, yellow squash and pesto. $8.50
Salads are dinner-sized. They offer ten. During our second visit the guy sitting next to me was eating such a gorgeous salad, our whole table was staring. I realized he was beginning to get self-conscious. I apologized and asked which it was he was eating. "My Little Chick-a-Dee..." he said. "Sorry we're staring, it looks gorgeous, how is it?"
He, laughing: "It IS really good. So good, I've had it every day this week for lunch!"
Couple of really nice touches: homemade is the order of the day. You can taste it in the soups, the dressings, the salads. You can add a mug of soup to a sandwich for $2.50. A serving is $3.75. Many sandwiches and salads come with "ORT" Oven-roasted tomatoes. Try asking for that at Subway!
What's better with a mug of homemade soup than some great bread for dunking? Forget-me-knots, house-made mini rolls, are another nice touch. They come in two varieties: Garlic and Herb, or Brown sugar-cinnamon and honey.
Feel like pizza instead? Stop in for a slice for lunch. You'll have a hard time finding a better slice for $1.90. This is a gorgeous, crispy, thin, NY-style slice. Perfect combination of chew and crackle. Not cracker-thin like Emma's (which I love) not soft and thin like Upper Crust (good but a tad too sweet and too soft to make the top of my 'za list). This HT humble slice is good enough to linger on your mind for days. A buck ninety, you kidding? Can't beat that with a stick! Whole pies are 18" and run from $17.75 for a Hot Tomato Pie (HT sauce, fresh mozz, aged parmesan and fresh herbs) to the Big Shrimp (grilled shrimp, trio of cheeses, garlic & olive oil; avail. as red or white pie) $21.75. Most are $18.75 and come in combos that are creative enough to be interesting and familiar enough to be tempting.
If you want a giant sandwich at a giant price, don't go to HT. If you want an anemic sandwich at a low price, don't go to HT. This is not a place that will try to sell you on the "value" of a large sub with "house baked" (i.e. not fresh made) bread.
Instead, at HT you get fresh sandwiches that show uncommon culinary skills for a sandwich shop. Fresh bread, not food service style bread. Homemade soups, homemade potato salad. Great pizzas, too. Calzones for $8.50.
92 Bedford Street Boston 617.292.0233
Open Mon - Fri: 11 - 4 Catering (5 - 75 guests) and delivery (Call 617-557-0033) are available. Tell 'em the Leather District Gourmet sent you!