Jam-band music and jam-packed sandwiches
Dough in East Boston takes its laid-back vibe seriously. Psychedelic posters of the band Phish cover much of the wall space. The SiriusXM station Jam On provides a fitting soundtrack. With only three tables and countertop window seating, it’s more of a takeout than dine-in spot, but you can order from the counter and, well, chill. And on a quiet weeknight, we immediately feel like we own the joint.
“You guys ordered a lot of good food, so this is going to come out tapas-style,’’ announces co-owner Kevin Curley, delivering roasted garlic bread ($2.95 and $4.95), fries ($2.50 and $4.75), and beer-battered onion rings ($2.95 and $4.95) with a spicy concoction he calls “boom boom sauce.’’
Fries and onion rings are good, but don’t taste homemade. The boom boom sauce helps. Garlic bread with caramelized onions and mozzarella is fantastic.
Curley, 34, and Michael Sanchez, 37, opened Dough outside Maverick Square in 2006 after meeting in Vermont during college. “These Eastie customers are tough,’’ Curley tells me later on the phone. “With pizza and sandwiches, they don’t really mess around.’’ The place likely has survived because it lives up to those high standards.
The main courses take a while, but we don’t mind the wait. Then two enormous sandwiches quickly win fans. The Vermonter ($7.95) is a signature meal featuring turkey, gouda, bacon, apple, red onion, and sun-dried tomato mayo on multigrain bread, all baked in the oven. The Gobbler ($7.50) is one of the best Thanksgiving-style feasts on bread we’ve had, with thin-sliced turkey and stuffing, slathered with a delicious cranberry mayo, also on multigrain.
Cajun chicken cheese steak sandwich ($7.50) receives a mixed reaction. “I wish I kept that boom boom sauce to put on my sub,’’ says one dining companion, pushing away the pairing of shredded blackened chicken, roasted red peppers, and provolone on a spucky roll. Another likes the cheese steak as is. The first diner reconsiders. “Maybe because it wasn’t greasy as I expected.’’
Raves also go to a curried chicken salad sandwich ($7.50), layered with grilled chicken salad, curry, mayo, red onion, celery, almonds, and grapes on a braided roll. The combination of sweet grapes and crunchy nuts and celery give it a punch.
Chicken wing pizza ($9.95 and $14.95) with grilled chicken, blue cheese, mozzarella, and hot sauce, is delectable but lacks the kick we expect from wings. Pesto pizza ($9.95 and $14.95) has loads of taste spread between pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms, but the flavors compete with no clear victor. Orchard pizza ($9.95 and $14.95) is varied, as the names implies, with grilled chicken, bacon, caramelized onions, apple chunks, and mozzarella. The odd mix of flavors works, especially with apple.
Neither meatball calzone ($9.95) nor pasta pollo ($10.95) measures up. The grilled chicken in the pasta, which also has prosciutto and broccoli in alfredo sauce, is perfectly cooked and delicious, but broccoli too heavily influences the dish. Meatball calzone leaves us wishing we’d ordered the buffalo chicken version. The dough is fantastic, making it great for dipping, if nothing else, but the meat tastes off.
One night a man with long, curly hair, a pink shirt, and khakis tucked into his socks orders a pizza and begins a juggling act. Restaurant patrons warmly applaud when he pulls off a feat. He’s a neighborhood regular, and Sanchez eggs him on.
A triple-chocolate cookie ($2) is packed with Reese’s peanut butter, chocolate chunks, and dark chocolate. I ask if it’s homemade - a foolish question at a place named Dough. “Oh, you bet it is,’’ Curley says.
A young couple walks in as we’re leaving one night, and they’re serenaded from the kitchen by Sanchez, loudly singing to Dave Mason’s 1977 hit “We Just Disagree.’’ The customers hardly react. They simply settle into a table and go with the flow.
Glenn Yoder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.