CLAWS COME OUT!
Eateries vie to serve Hub’s biggest lobster roll
We hope you're (very) hungry. A battle may be brewing between Boston's North and South ends over bragging rights to the city's largest lobster roll. Doors just opened at Lobstah on a Roll, a new South End sandwich shop that markets itself as “the biggest little restaurant in America” — thanks, in large part, to its 5-footlong lobster roll, dubbed “The Monstah,” that is loaded with over 12 pounds of meat from about
80 lobsters, according to Joe Marcus, who owns the spot with longtime friend Dave Spinney.
The casual, crustacean-forward counter service eatery, nestled on the corner at 537 Columbus Ave., is going for big business: By the end of November, a second location is slated to open in Arlington, where the large lobster rolls will be complemented by 24-ounce Delmonico steaks, and there are multicity franchise plans in the works.
The South End restaurant has already sold six of its 5-foot lobster rolls (which go for market price, around $900) in just its first week.
But the ink was still wet on the menu when a North End sandwich shop, Pauli's (65 Salem St.), announced that it would start offering a 6-foot-long lobster roll, “Lobzilla,” piled with over 15 pounds of meat. The Lobzilla, like the Monstah, requires 24-hour advance ordering and is designed to feed about 60 people — but Pauli's owner Paul Barker is adding a gut-busting challenge: If a single guest can finish the entire $1,000 lobster roll within one hour, it's on the house.
This edible one-upmanship is great news for Thanksgiving feasters who want to preorder an awe-inspiring addition to their table. Although some cynics might consider such outre offerings to be gimmicky, the teams behind both restaurants say they just want to bring a little jaw-dropping joy to locals' lives.
“It's all about the wow factor,” Marcus said. He says he opened Lobstah on a Roll to honor his late father, who ran a “mom and pop sandwich shop” in Beverly, and called on their shared sense of humor to devise the idea of offering outsized lobster rolls — available in a standard 6-inch size and foot-long increments, up to the 5-footer.
“I know my father is looking down, nodding and laughing,” Marcus said. “If I can't make someone laugh and feel good, I didn't do my job.”
It's chef Kenny Dupree's job to make sure the lobster roll lives up to its huge hype. He says the small things make a big difference: The Monstah uses whole knuckle, claw and split tail meat, no filler, plus heirloom tomatoes and hydro-
ponic butter lettuce on a custom-baked challah roll.
Dupree is confident in his creation and nonplussed when he learns that Pauli’s has raised the bar by 12 inches and an extreme eating challenge.
“I wouldn’t want one person to try and finish this,” Dupree said. Dupree says the Monstah is better suited for catered affairs such as game day and holiday parties, and Marcus is mum on whether his shop will try to outdo Pauli’s latest creation with a 7-foot version.
You can’t blame Barker for wanting to preserve his pre-existing claim to scaletilting fame. Pauli’s 25-ounce “Lobstitution” sandwich had previously billed itself to be New England’s largest lobster roll since its 2013 debut, when it helped grow the restaurant’s lobster sales by 300 percent, according to a spokesperson. It’s still a hit; Barker says the shop sells at least one daily.
Now the 6-foot Lobzilla tosses knuckle, claw and leg meat in light mayo with a hint of lemon, and is served in a braided roll on a wooden plank to keep it from collapsing. Barker said Pauli’s already had experience doing super-large lobster rolls as catering requests, but he admits Lobstah on a Roll’s 5-foot sandwich spurred him to officially roll out his biggest menu item yet.
Still, he says it’s love, and not war, that fuels his battle to be biggest.
“We don’t do this as a gimmick,” Barker said. “We love making food and we love making people smile. How many people can say they go to work every day and love what they do?”
“We’re having fun. And inthis day and age, I think a little fun in the world goes a long way.”
the of Pauli’s in Barker, owner 6-foot-long, BIG BITE: Paul Lobzilla, a offers the North End, roll. $1,000 lobster
GET HOOKED: Lobstah on a Roll co-owners Dave Spinney, left, and Joe Marcus, right, with chef Kenny Dupree show off their ‘Double Lobstah’ sandwiches.