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Tackle some Super Bowl snacks from Pauli's in the North End

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The Big Game is just a few days away, and you need a game plan for the hungry fans in your TV room. Pauli’s in the North End has a few super go-to to-go snacks for the Super Bowl.

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For starters, pick up a few packages of Pauli’s steak tips. At $13.99/lb, the tips are cut small, so they’re quick to grill up, and guaranteed tender thanks to Pauli’s savory marinade made from Worcestershire sauce, Italian dressing, and barbecue sauce.

“People are always raving about our steak tips,” said Paul Barker, the owner.

A real crowd-pleaser could be the U.S.S. Lobstitution, a lobster roll whose 24 ounces of meat make it perhaps the largest in New England, for $49.99. Even the regular-sized lobster rolls are a great bet, chockful of knuckle and claw meat, a smidge of mayo, and nothing else between the meat and the bun. But for a real taste bomb, order up a few lobster grilled cheeses, with provolone on Texas Toast.

The Vito is another solid bet for your guests: thick chicken cutlets, imported ham, provolone, roasted red peppers homemade chipotle mayo atop fresh scali bread. This popular sandwich was invented by New York restaurateur Joseph R. Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore Sr. on The Sopranos. Gannascoli gifted Pauli with the restaurant during an early visit, and the two are now good friends.

Paul’s lighter version is the California wrap with grilled marinated chicken, cucumbers, and avocados with the same delicious sauce. Other great game food ideas would be the buffalo chicken and lobster mac and cheese.

“We make unbelievable burgers,” brags Paul. “We use black certified angus burgers. We try to use the best ingredients. We're not going to sell $4 subway sandwiches, but we are reasonably priced.

For the vegetarian in the crowd, the old-school eggplant parmigiana is made with egg wash and flour, not breadcrumbs; the cutlets are fried in their own oil to prevent cross-contamination with the chicken cutlets. The result is a relatively nimble take on the sandwich, light on the cheese and sauce, and an emphasis on the eggplant taste. There’s also gluten-free pasta. For dessert, add on some of their brownies, if they perfect the recipe by then. The version I tried recently was chocolately and chewy goodness, but they weren’t ready yet for sale. They’re always experimenting with recipes, Paul said. They also have chocolate chip cookies, which are baked in-house using David’s Cookies’ batter.

Other holiday dishes they’re working on includes, for Valentine’s Day, a sandwich for the single person who loves them some burgers: the indulgent Soul Mate Burger, which is not for the faint-hearted: a double burger is topped with crispy bacon, three extra cheesy fried mozzarella slices, cheddar cheese, lettuce, roasted peppers and topped with a creamy ranch chipotle sauce served alongside a helping of extra crispy French fries ($15.99).

“Since Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, we really wanted to do something for those who were left without a special date. It’s not a night to think about calories or impressing someone, we’ve made it a night to enjoy a really good burger and have a little fun while doing it,” said Barker.

The next morning, for breakfast pick up a sandwich that’s being featured in Rachael Ray’s March magazine: pancakes laced with bacon, egg and cheese. “That one was from one of my sandwich makers,” said Paul. “It's really good AND outrageous.”

They’re also planning on a March Madness platter: Boston, lobster rolls 7 ounce subs; South, fried chicken sandwiches; West Coast, California wraps; and Midwest: steak tips Greek wraps, with feta.

“All our sandwiches are made from scratch, we don't microwave anything,” he added. “For the same price, you get half of that at (a certain local donut chain), and it's nuked.”

“We have fun, healthy, and not so healthy sandwiches with good price points,” said Barker. “We always try to get people in and out of here in a fast pace.”

Barker had run two other restaurants before getting an MBA, but after a taste of the corporate life, he followed his heart back to the North End to open Pauli’s, a couple of years ago. He has marinara in his veins: Barker worked at his grandfather’s Pace’s grocery; his grandfather later ran Caruso’s Market on Salem Street, while his uncle started J. Pace & Sons. His mother, Maria, also had an award-winning restaurant here named Nicole’s. She still stops in to lend a hand, and a few recipes that will also be featured in her upcoming cookbook. He uses her recipes for meatballs, marinara and Alfredo sauce, he says.

“We're definitely a food family,” said Paul. “There's a lot of great food families in the North End.”

Pauli’s
65 Salem St.

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