If you want world-class lobster rolls, perfect steamers, impeccable fresh-shucked oysters, or an enclave of the best Sichuan restaurants on the east coast, Boston is your town. But unlike, say, New York with its Reuben, Philly with its cheesesteak, or Chicago with its Italian Beef, Boston doesn't have a signature sandwich. Until now, that is. When I first heard that Charles Kelsey and his wife Rachel Toomey—both Cook's Illustrated alums—were going to turn the obsessive, perfection-bent mindset of the magazine into producing the best sandwiches, I knew that something serious was going to happen: Boston would finally get a world-class sandwich joint.
Between Saturday's roast pork and Tuesday's pork carnitas, there's a lot of pork cooking at Cutty's. That also means there's a lot of pork fat rendering at Cutty's, and the staff recently came up with a brilliant way to use it: pork fat biscuits. Consider this the other "bread" option for your AM sandwich, the rich, craggy biscuit done up with thin-sliced ham, cheese, housemade pickle chips, and, as a nod to the South, red-eye mayo.
It makes up half of the shop's sales (to keep up with demand, Kelsey roasts 200 pounds of beef every week.) It brings customers in from Worcester. It's widely considered the best roast beef sandwich in town—and Boston is a roast beef sandwich kinda town. We're talking Cutty's Roast Beef 1,000.
A celebrity* invented this sandwich, but that's not why it became famous. According to Kelsey, the Spicy Pork Torta ($7.99) is another one of those examples of the staff mixing and matching X,Y, and Z from the raw materials they keep on hand, and coming up with something amazing.
Affectionately dubbed "the sleeper hit of the shop," this Wednesday special ($7.50) was born out of leftovers from some of Cutty's bigger-name sensations. The sautéed broccoli rabe and the crispy, sesame-studded Iggy's roll comes from Saturday's Pork Rabe Torta; hand-pulled fresh mozzarella from the Spuckie; and their kickass tangy-sweet tomato jam from the seasonal, can't-wait-for-/can't-let-go-of-summer BLTJ.
The Spuckie ($4.10/half, $7.95/whole) is the only sandwich on the menu with a real history, Kelsey says. Originally when he was dreaming up his business, he'd envisioned a muffaletta truck. Sometime after the truck plan evolved into a brick-and-mortar op, the muffaletta turned into the Spuckie, South Boston's take on the Big Easy classic.
A sandwich described as "greens shallot" ($6.65) may seem odd—downright Spartan even—but the tender braised chard that fills the split ciabatta roll (from Iggy's) acquires a savory, almost meaty quality to it, rich with liquor that soaks happily into the bread.
For Cutty's special "Super Cluckin' Sunday" (they're usually closed on Sundays) they're serving a rarely offered but insanely popular menu item: the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. If you're in or near the Boston area this weekend, you need to get yourself to Cutty's.
Pardon the interruption: I pledged a summer-long series of food truck posts, but this limited-edition Cutty's special only comes around during tomato season and it's worthy of the mobile meal hiatus.