For such a small state, Massachusetts sure has its share of tasty regional foods, including roast beef sandwiches on the North Shore, clam chowder and lobster rolls all along the coast, Greek pizza on nearly every other street corner, and another type of pizza that is just a bit like Greek but is unique in its own way. And South Shore bar pizza has really made a name for itself over the years and seems more popular than ever lately, with such famous places as Cape Cod Pizza in Brockton and Lynwood Cafe in Randolph being among the most iconic spots for it.
One of the most interesting aspects of bar pizza places is that they can be found in some very obscure areas on little-traveled streets in residential neighborhoods, small towns that are well off the beaten path, and in some cases, downright odd locations that no one will ever find unless they do their research or have a friend in the know. Hoey’s at Amvets Post 51 in Randolph is certainly such a place, and not only is it one of the most “hidden” of all eateries in Eastern Massachusetts, but it also happens to have one of the best—if not the best—bar pizzas in the region.
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As is the case with your classic hidden gems, finding Hoey’s is a bit of an experience in of itself. The pizza spot isn’t in a commercial center, nor is it even in a true residential area, so it’s extremely easy to miss, being off Pleasant Street between North Street (which leads southward from Braintree) and N Main a bit north of the center of Randolph. The Amvets building is tucked away on the shoulder of a small hill above the Zapustas Ice Arena, and the narrow road that leads to it—Amvets Lane—looks like the last place that you would expect to find any sort of dining spot. The Amvets building itself is a beautiful old structure with lots of nooks and crannies, and its entrance (complete with a “lounge” sign above the doorway) looks like something straight out of the Great North Woods of Maine or the Adirondacks of New York, hinting at lots of characters inside along with good food and cheap drinks.
Upon entering the Amvets post and turning the corner, you’ll find a pizza window to the left, and beyond that, a very old-school bar area where Veterans and their families and friends like to relax over a beer or two. While some folks eat their pizza inside the lounge, many if not most who come to Hoey’s do so for takeout, calling in their orders in advance and picking up their pizzas, which are stuffed into plain brown paper bags, by the way, which is a tradition among some of the more classic bar pizza spots. One thing to keep in mind is that, much like so many other old-school dining and drinking places, Hoey’s is cash-only, so you’ll want to make sure to hit an ATM before arriving.
By now, you may be asking, what exactly is bar pizza? As mentioned earlier, these individual-sized pies have at least an indirect connection to Greek-style pizza, including the fact that most (if not all) of the cheese added on top is cheddar rather than mozzarella, and the cheese extends all the way to the edge of the crust. The sauce tends to be pretty rich in taste, and if people ask for burnt or laced edges, the sauce also extends to the edge of the crust and caramelizes, giving some added taste and texture. Finally, the crust itself tends to be crackerlike and in some cases can be almost like shortbread in a way, which may sound strange, but it works with this type of pizza.
The pizza at Hoey’s is your classic bar bie, with the perfect combination of ingredients mentioned above, and for those who do opt for burnt/laced edges, they do it about as well as anyone, rivaling the likes of the aforementioned Cape Cod Cafe and Lynwood. One of the most unusual toppings—and one that tends to be exclusive to Randolph—is the baked bean pizza, which might sound rather weird but it somehow works, while the mushroom, salami, and pepperoni pizzas are top notch as well. Others worth noting from Hoey’s are specialty pizzas such as the Irish pie (potatoes and bacon) and the meat lovers (sausage, pepperoni, and hamburger), and there is also a “burner” pizza with buffalo chicken and jalapeno peppers.
Hoey’s is one of those places that helps make the dining scene in the Greater Boston area so special, as finding delicious regional food in an improbable space makes for a memorable occasion—especially the first time you go because of the newness of it all. Whether the bar pizza at this local joint is the best south of Boston is up for debate, but you’ll probably never find such a unique spot for this beloved food item.
Eat New England
Hoey's Pizza at Amvets Post 51, 9 Amvets Lane, Randolph, MA, 02368. https://www.facebook.com/southshoreoriginalbarpie/