A.L. FEAST: The pastrami and Swiss sandwich borrows a New York specialty and Soxes it up, with Boston-style thin-cut meat.
The baseball record books show that Gerald Peter Remy, in 10 major-league seasons, hit a total of seven home runs. On my first visit to his Boylston Street bar and grill, Jerry Remy's, I had the Texas-style beef brisket ($19), a draught of Remy's Red Ale ($6.75/12-ounce; $9.25/23-ounce), and a Boston cream torte ($8). I was ready to declare the restaurant home run number eight. Two subsequent visits reduced my overall rating to a wall-ball double, but I am still in awe. Sports guys never, ever, have co-owned a restaurant with really good food.
|Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill | 1265 Boylston Street, Fenway | 617.236.7369 | Open daily, 11 am–11 pm (Or one hour after home baseball games) | AE, MC, VI | Full bar | No valet parking | Ramped access to many tables|
The pride of Fall River has had an unlikely career, and always sandbags you by doing better than predicted. So maybe I should have been ready for how fine Remy's place would be. This is a fellow who told a Phoenix interviewer, "College wasn't an option for me," but actually was drafted out of Roger Williams. Okay, it was a junior college in those days, but you get the idea.
Old Number Two didn't hit for power, but he had a very respectable .275 lifetime average. As a color announcer, his real métier, he overcame the obvious handicaps of a slight speech impediment and a strong regional accent to earn steadily increasing respect for his intelligent exposition of the inner game. Remy says he doesn't like watching games from the stands, but wrote a book about how to do just that.
He likewise disguised his restaurant ambitions by warming up with an eponymous hot-dog cart near Fenway, and an earlier version of the sports bar at Logan Airport, literally under the radar. At this larger location in the shadow of Fenway Park, Remy has surrounded himself with a great team, constantly striving to do better. As the Phoenix goes to press, word comes that they're retuning the menu for the second time, which means that even more triumphs could be in store and some of the duds taken out of the game.
(His restaurant already has another monster hit with the RemDawg ($9), a bargain platter based on a triple-size mild, beefy knockwurst covered with remarkably good chili ($6/appetizer crock) using real diced beef, cheese, and pickled onions, with a side of peppery coleslaw.)
Most of the scoring on this menu comes out of a Texas-style barbecue smoker. The Texas-style beef brisket ($19) is three thick, point-cut slices, with a real taste of eight-hour smoke and an unobtrusive sauce. Smoked half chicken ($17) — a trickier pitch — was tender and juicy inside. I tried the smoked pulled pork ($19) in sandwich form ($11). It was leaner and smokier than the classic Carolinas style. It also didn't have the red-pepper vinegar they like down there, though the pepper slaw in the sandwich took up some of the slack.