Woody's Grill and Tap
58 Hemenway Street, Boston, MA 02115
There is something special about wood-fired pizza; from the charred crust to the smoky cheese to the unforgettable smell of the wood burning, restaurants that cook their pies in this manner are often some of the best places to go to for pizza. And while it may seem to be a bit difficult to find pizza spots with wood-fired ovens, a number of such places do exist in the Boston area, including a laid-back neighborhood joint called Woody's Grill and Tap that is hidden away on a side street just east of the Back Bay Fens.
Because Woody's is located in a residential neighborhood, it is a little tough to find if you don't know the area (near where the Back Bay of Boston and the Fenway neighborhood meet), and even if you do know where it is, parking can be a real challenge. This is perhaps why the place seems to be frequented mainly by college students who can walk to the restaurant and older folks who live in the stately row houses that surround the Fens. Woody's is set up in a pretty simple manner, with a moderately spacious dining area to the left (which includes chairs and bench seats) and a long bar to the right, with a handful of high-top tables on the bar side. The aforementioned wood-fired oven is situated behind the bar, and every now and then, the entire space is perfumed with the smell of burning wood. From the outside, the eatery looks like it could be a dive bar, but it is actually clean and brightly lit inside, with a mostly tolerable noise level depending on how crowded it is.
The menu at Woody's features a mix of pub grub and classic American fare, including such items as wings, calamari, a Caesar salad, burgers, steak tips, fish and chips, and rigatoni bolognese, but as good as some of these items are (the steak tips and burgers are well worth getting), the pizza seems to be the main thing here. It is tough to categorize the pies at Woody's, as they have the qualities of gourmet pizza, bar pies, and classic Neapolitan, but whatever you might call them, the pizzas are excellent, with a charred and slightly chewy crust, a rich and deep-tasting sauce, and tasty cheese that isn't put on too thick as to overwhelm the pies as so often happens in drinking establishments. A few options for pizza at Woody's include a meatball pizza, a pepperoni, a hot pepper, a four cheese, and a veggie, as well as a briny and delicious white clam pizza and a sweet and salty pineapple pie. If you have room for dessert, Woody's makes them fresh, with a couple of options being a chocolate torte and a coffee cheesecake.
Woody's is one of those classic under-the-radar neighborhood dining and drinking joints that Boston seems to have many of, and the bonus of the wood-fired oven makes this a bit of a special place, especially for those who love good pizza. It may be tough to find, but once you're on the western edge of the Back Bay, all you have to do is follow your nose (if the wind is blowing the woodsmoke the right way), and you'll soon be sitting in this low-key spot, enjoying a few slices of pie along with your favorite adult beverage.
Copyright © 2011, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).