Bourne Pizza Wars: Monument Beach Pizza

Representing the M-O-B 

This column is forever in search of the best pizza on Bourne. It is a never-ending quest, as Bourne covers a lot of ground, and different regions of the town swear by different pizza shops. The Bourne Pizza wars are fought on battlefields both on the map and in the tummy. The battle you read of today was fought at Monument Beach Pizza.

We feel that the local House Of Pizza restaurants are reflective of the community. Leave the sushi joints to the inland yuppies. People like that get nothing but a beating in Monument Beach.

Man must eat, and more = merrier. Go down to Hyannis if you want a piece of tofu on a lettuce leaf served by some emo college kid. Go down to the Em Oh Be if you have a rumbly in your tumbly, and order your food from some local who looks like a more-in-shape Kevin Smith.

"Kevin" gets props early in the article, because he scored some points for his employer early in the meal. There were a couple of autistic kids in the MOB when we were there, and he happily allowed one of them to whale away on the cash register a bit. It made the kid happy, even though Kevin's register may have had $387284776013666.99 in sales that day.

This column has long felt that every local kid should work a summer pumping gas, hustling pizzas around, or anything that gets you in touch with a broad cross-section of the public. Kevin passed his test that day, and that was even before he had to process two nosy reporters snooping around and bothering the other customers.

Some restaurant critics prefer to keep a low profile, and stealthily investigate an eatery Phantom Gourmet style. Not me. I like places to be hustling when I dine there, and few things get a crew busting it more than a reporter snooping around.... especially if the owner happens to be managing that shift. I walk in snapping pictures, asking questions, interrogating the other customers, openly discussing the menu, checklisting the kitchen, and whatever else I have to do. I like people to get to steppin'.

MOB (all of the employees and regular customers refer to the place as "the M-O-B" or "Mo Beach Pizza") has been under her current ownership for about 4 years. At various times in the building's history, it was a post office, a general store, a fish market, and a few other things which I'd have in this article if I wrote it the day I went there. The owner insisted upon keeping the building the way it was, a wise decision IMHO.

It looks very much like an old-time general store when you walk in, which is always good for some points with me. You don't want a pizza place where the guy spends too much time decorating. You want a place that looks like a first generation Italian-American allowed his wife in for one half hour only to tidy up and direct the painters.

The crowd there was us, a crew of mechanics, and some COMCAST worker guy.

There are some obligatory old-tyme photos of the building from back in the day, and I have the impression that President Cleveland probably did some shopping in whatever store was in that building back when Bourne was the site of the summer White House.

The menu is of the New England Sub Shop mode, and I think that 80% of the people who go into a sub shop already know what they want anyhow. They did have some unique choices among the specialty pizzas- we saw "Salt Works," which was bacon and dill pickles, and something called the Ronk Steak Pizza that featured au jus sauce.

In the end, we got a Linguica Pizza and Onion Rings. Linguica is an important pizza topping, kinda distinct to Swamp Yankee Massachusetts... a sort of Portuguese Pepperoni. It is popular in the Northeast, on the West Coast (linguica pizza is called Portuguese Sausage Pizza once you go where there are no Portuguese), Hawaii and Japan. Hawaiians call it Portagee Sausage, and McDonald's serves it with their breakfast menu there. 

Onion rings are more world wide, but we tend to get them a lot because my boyfriend is all into them. No one knows who invented the onion ring (recipes in print for fried onions go back at least to 1802), but A+W popularized them nationwide in the 1960s. They enjoy particular popularity in a swath of New England that runs from Maine through Rhode Island. 

That's a fairly solid New England supper we ordered. I tend to stay away from seafood at sub shops, as I go elsewhere for seafood.

There's a fat slice.

Mo Beach Pizza uses diced linguica, and while I'm not into culinary CSI, I'm pretty sure that they prepared the linguica in-house. While your reporters are from Fairhaven and Duxbury and thus have some bias, we think linguica is probably the best topping.

Linguica as a pizza topping runs the gamut from a sort of ground Alpo-looking topping you see on pizzas sold in places with no Brazilian neighborhoods, to the Mo Beach diced version above, to a strange looking disc you see in places that order it in bulk, to long canoe slices that I actually like best.

This pizza was about 14" (we forgot the tape measure, but I have developed a pretty good eye for these things by now), Greek (pan) style. I'm told that the New York-style style thinner crust pizza goes about 16". You need to use a knife and fork to eat it, always a positive in mine eyes.

I'm only 5'3" or so, but my boyfriend is over 240 pounds. We finished half of it, although we had appetizers first. We had further reporting to do that day, and couldn't afford to have the lay-on-the-floor-after feast that we may have indulged in at home. It is also important to save pizza so we can report on how it tastes cold. We're that hardcore.

They had very good onion rings, which is important in our judging. There were only about 10 or so (my co-author sneeched one before I could snap a picture... I had to arm myself with a fork and directly threaten him in order to get the whole-pizza shot we're ending the article with), but each of them were thick and battered with love... which looks awful in print, but pay that no mind.

These are the best onion rings in town, although we still have a dozen pizza places to try before I actually hand out a trophy.

Our fellow diners worked the menu pretty well for us, although we didn't put the camera on them or anything. Ideally, we let others eat in peace during the Pizza Wars.

The cable guy had chicken wings, and he was a regular to the point where the waitress just walked up to him and said "Chicken wings?" He looked like a very happy man, as he had a plate full of clucker wings working. I almost went over to mooch one off him, (I would have traded 2 onion rings for one), but we couldn't get ourselves kicked out or anything.

The greasers had a variety of subs, and they also appeared to be pleased with their choices. You can always tell when the food is good if a group of men becomes silent shortly after the food is served, especially if the TV has ESPN on. Usually at least one guy is running his lip, but these guys were mowing silently

We were there at an off hour, but they had a pretty good run of business. The delivery girl (more points) had to go out at least once during our time there, and we weren't there that long. 

Here are a few other things I noticed during my time at Mo Beach Pizza:

- Considerable time, science, and expense went into some mundane elements of the store. You'll notice, in the pictures of the slices, that they use technology to keep the crust from getting too greasy.  This involves a sort of ribbed (sorry, the only other descriptive term that comes to mind is "bumpy") pizza tray and even a ribbed pad in the delivery boxes. They elevate the pizza some, keeping the grease from seeping into the crust while concurrently leeching grease from the bottom of the crust.

Whoever invented that should probably own Obama's Nobel prize, no offense meant to the C-I-C.

- "Mo" and "Monumental" work their way into the menu language now and then.

- The onion rings had their own sauce, known as Boom Boom Sauce.

- Boom Boom Sauce is actually a brand made by Ken's (the salad dressing people), and it is a spicier version of the usual New England onion ring sauce. The owner told me that it has sort of branched out into other menu items, as customers frequently request it on chicken, steak, and, in one case, pastrami.

- I won't out myself or my boyfriend, but one of us liked the pizza better when it was cold.

- The owner figured out we were media fairly quickly, and he let himself be questioned willingly enough. He seemed like a nice enough guy, and it is fun to get a shop owner speaking at length about his craft.

- Mo Beach's main competitors are Prime Time Pizza "up on the highway," and Graziella's, which is over on Barlow's Landing. MBP does have a nice section of the village to themselves, though. They are about 50 feet off of Shore Road.

- Speaking of addresses, Mo Beach Pizza is located at 18 Beach Street, in Monument Beach, which is one of the Bourne villages. Hit them up on the phone at 508-759-3210. They also have a Facebook page.

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