Scampo, Boston, MA: Haute Pizza Heaven
Located in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood ,Scampo, Italian for ‘to escape,’ is a cool-as-a-cumber Italian restaurant that makes its home in the Liberty Hotel, the former St. Charles Jail. In fact, the original iron bars from the jail are still on the windows. But if you eat at Scampo, you won’t want to escape. You’ll want to stay and linger a long while.
We stopped at Scampo on a recent visit to Boston when we heard that they served a thin crust lobster pizza. Sweet, succulent lobster and Italian-style, wood-fired pizza — what’s not to love? We had to try it.
We started our afternoon Scampo snack stop on the restaurant’s cool, breezy patio. In the afternoons, the wind comes off of the Charles River, funneling between the buildings and creates natural air conditioning (and a bit of a wind tunnel effect) that was welcome on this hot day in Boston. We started with a caprese salad—arugula, fresh basil, thin sliced red onion, red tomato slices, and house made mozzarella with aged balsamic and olive oil. The slightly bitter greens paired well with the sweet tomatoes and balsamic. The soft, creamy mozzarella was a lovely contrast to the crunch of the greens.
Then it was onto the main event, the pizza. However, when we read the menu, there were plenty of other interesting pizza choices besides the lobster such as zucchini blossom, fennel pollen and crumbled hot sausage; white ham and bacon; and white pizza with truffle cheese, shredded chanterelles, and fig preserves. This is taking pizza to a whole other level. We opted for a half lobster, half truffle/chanterelle/fig pizza.
Our first bite of the lobster pizza was one of those “OMG, this is too good to believe” moments. Scampo’s lobster pizza combines the best of thin crust Italian pizza—the crispy snap of good, wood fired dough and just the right amount of the freshest ingredients – and the best of New England – fresh, sweet lobster and cream. The pizza’s crispy, earthy crust is topped with shallots, garlic oil, ricotta salata, lobster cream sauce, big chunks of lobster, and delicate shreds of fresh basil. The pungent flavor of ricotta, the sweetness of the lobster, the freshness of the shallots, and the creamy richness of the lobster sauce combine to make this the perfect pizza.
Our other half of the pizza, the truffle cheese and chanterelle with fig preserves, was rich and sweet. The wild, earthy flavors of the truffle and chanterelles are offset by the sweet fruity flavor of the figs and make for a heavenly combination. This pizza is so rich, you’d almost want to order it for dessert..
Real Bottom Line: Talented Boston chef Lydia Shire has made Scampo a must-stop for pizza lovers. Scampo, of course, doesn’t just serve pizza. This Italian-themed eatery offers plenty of house made pastas and traditional Italian dishes with Chef Shire’s creative twists. If this woman can invent pizza like the ones we sampled at Scampo, anything she makes has got to be delicious. Next time we’re in Boston, we plan to try some of her other delights. But, for now, her pizzas, especially her lobster pizza, will occupy a special place in our food memories for a long time to come. www.scampoboston.com
Be sure to check out our recipe for Lydia Shire’s Lobster Pizza. – Reviewed Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor, Photos Anne Weaver, RFT Editor