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.

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