Days have been flying by me lately as I’ve been hired to write the Boston content for a web-based travel guide (I’ll post the link when it’s final and up!). Despite the obvious fun in this project, it is taking me much more time than I anticipated, basically because of compiling insane amounts of information on hotels, restaurants, bars, etc.
Research has gotten me to try several new places, though, and I will briefly mention two:
1. The Arnold Arboretum, JP
Property of Harvard on a 1,000 year lease from 1882 (renting in Boston is so weird) and used for the study of plants, the Arnold Arboretum is a tree haven and the oldest public arboretum in the US. Tim and I went with my parents on Wednesday (my mom’s a horticulture buff) and played a rousing game of “find the tags”– the trees have metal identifiers attached to them, but some are easier to locate than others. It was about 85 degrees on Wednesday, but sticking to the shaded paths kept us cool, as did the many water fountains placed throughout. The arboretum is bigger than I could have guessed (265 acres!) and you can’t even really walk it all from one starting point. It’s easy to see it must have a different visual appeal in each season. The highlight of what we saw was the Bonsai Collection–each tree’s tag told its age, and these tiny sculpted plants had been growing for literally hundreds of years! I couldn’t believe it. The arboretum is free but a (helpful) map is $1.
2. Santarpio’s Pizza, East Boston This place had me mystified, amused, and digestively happy all day. I had read in several sources that Santarpio’s served the “best” pizza in Boston, and determined I needed to taste said pie, so I got in my car and drove down 93 and up 1A to East Boston. Santarpio’s was about 10 feet off the exit ramp from 1A–points for easy to find, plus the street parking didn’t seem to require any resident permit. What surprised me was how unashamedly divey the place was from outside! Big sign, no frills exterior. I walked in and was blasted by heat from some sort of grill being operated immediately to my right (kebabs, I think, looked amazing). To my left I could see a crowded, dark-paneled dining room, and to my left a bar where I asked the tough-friendly bartender if I could order takeout. He said yes, but that the takeout entrance was reached by going around the side of the building to another entrance. Rounding the corner (highway on my left) I encountered a windowless door with a tomato can on either side. The door took me, to my surprise, right into the kitchen! I started to back out, thinking I was in the wrong place, but a woman called to me, “Yeah, it’s in here, honey, come on in.” Sure enough… there’s a menu stuck on the wall, a guy was making pizzas in a giant oven right in front of me, ladling housemade sauce out of a pot, and the woman took my $9.50 (cash only) and I left about 10 minutes later with a pizza wrapped in brown paper. Stealth pizza.
Anyway, the pizza was delicious–the cheese had a saltiness I really liked, and the sauce was smooth, but the experience made my day.