Arts restaurant review

Pauli’s: ‘Wicked Fresh, Crazy Good.’ Lobster rolls, sandwiches, and much, much more

Pauli’s in the North End is a go-to for a scrumptious meal, for tourists and locals alike

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In the North End, Pauli's serves up the “Pauli-tician” and their classic buttered lobster roll.

Breakfast and Lunch: Lobster, Sandwiches & Wraps, $
65 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02113
Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

My latest food excursion took me and a friend to the North End, into the homiest of grab-and-go establishments: Pauli’s. A go-to stop for an inexpensive meal on a busy day, a popular haunt for tourists and locals alike — Pauli’s is tucked into a snug street of Italian restaurant storefronts and homey brick buildings, a block away from Mike’s Pastries. I popped in on a blazingly bright and crisp autumn weekend; the shop was comfortably busy. Delivery people popped in and out to pick up their paper bag deliveries every so often, creating a “fast-casual” atmosphere. But even so, cozy wooden tables, red chairs, and a blackboard menu scribed in a beautiful font made us feel right at home in the shop.

Nicole, the manager, settled us down with the utmost hospitality. My friend and I shared two sandwiches: the “Pauli-tician” and the classic “Buttered Lobster Roll.” The Pauli-tician presented a variety of flavorful fillings atop a sesame roll. Among them was a chicken cutlet — warm and comfortingly crispy, imbued with balsamic glaze and olive oil juiciness. A bed of stringy and well-seasoned prosciutto added a savory kick to the chicken. A slice of smooth and creamy mozzarella, herby basil leaves, and juicy tomato topped it off. I have a bit of a bias for warm sandwiches, so I would have enjoyed the sandwich more if the bread were toasted — but it really doesn’t get much better. Rich and savory, the combination was scrumptious.

The buttered lobster roll was a different kind of delicious. Fragrant lobster juice soaked into the warm roll; the aroma wafted around my nostrils and lifted my spirits. While munching, I reminisced about my previous experiences eating lobster-in-the-shell. I would diligently hack away at a tough claw with a steel shell-cracker, only to coax out a tiny scrap of meat. In comparison, chomping into a mouthful of Pauli’s buttered lobster roll felt utterly luxurious. I was a queen! 

We were kindly provided with a gift of several desserts: a s'mores cookie, an apple crisp cookie, and a fudge brownie, all of which were delectable. Unlike other fast casual establishments, which often purchase their desserts from third-party suppliers, Pauli’s makes their own desserts in-house under their own label, Wicked Baked Cookies.

Even after that wholly memorable experience, I’d only experienced a tiny slice of all Pauli’s has to offer. Pauli’s offers an extensive menu that could satisfy my lunch needs for the rest of my life. Other signatures include the “Lobsta Mac & Cheese,” a blend of lobster and ziti tossed in a melted four-cheese sauce with buttered garlic croutons, as well as the “Killer Bee,” another signature sandwich with a crispy chicken cutlet, bacon, provolone cheese, lettuce, and honey mustard sauce. There are also a variety of filling burgers, healthy salad options, pastas of all kinds, wings, soups, and breakfast options.

The owner of the shop, Paul, grew up in the North End in a family of foodies. He began working in his family’s food businesses when he was eight years old, and is proudly carrying on the tradition. As gentrified as the North End has become, it’s comforting to know that the family food culture that has been here since the beginning is still thriving today. With the inexpensive, good quality comfort food, great for an afternoon snack or a scrumptious meal, I will definitely be back for more.