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Roast beef sandwich joint with decent rolls?

I've been eating a fair amount of roast beef sandwiches (most recently tried Mikey's in Billerica -- Woburn seems to have a ton of RB joints, too), but I'm getting tired of bad rolls: soft, fluffy, supermarket-grade hamburger buns, basically. Requesting them toasted helps a tiny bit, but only a tiny bit.

I think Royal Roast Beef in Eastie is the paragon of the kind of joint I mean. These places usually do decent deep-fried seafood, too. Many of them appear to have Greek-American owners. But while Royal's fried clams are nice, their RB roll is weak.

I haven't been to a Kelly's in years after some dreadful food there a while back, but I recall them using a McDonald's-grade sesame-seed bun. Is that still a fair assessment?

Does anyone know of a roast beef sandwich specialist (more general-purpose delis don't count) that serves a decent, crusty bulkie? The Wonder Bread bun sorta saps my joy at these places.

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  1. Your talking seditious heresy and none that I'm aware of Slim since you've ruled out delis. They all use sesame seed rolls but Nick's in Beverly and Bill & Bob's, in Salem at least, both go to a large, soft, yellow & squarish onion roll on their super-sized sandwiches. Personally I'm happy just so long as the rolls are nicely toasted.

    Here's a link that I saved to a Globe article from 2005. It's pretty interesting from a geneological standpoint on the origins of the North Shore RB business and could easily be entitled; "It's all Greek to me." http://www.boston.com/ae/food/article...


    1. I usually think of the square onion roll (squishy, yes, but with more character than wonder or sesame-wonder style). I think of Mike's in Everett as having a typical bun of this type.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Luther

        I am also in the "Onion Roll Camp". I like them toasted with a light layer of James River BBQ sauce and some American cheese. Yum.

      2. We have the same options for roast beef on the South Shore. We have seen the expansion of Brother's Roast Beef: Weymouth, Abington, Quincy. Their product is quiet good. I think the original is in Malden. But their Jr. Beef comes on a hamburger bun, the regular on a seseame (sp?), and Super comes on the obligatory square onion roll. I like the onion roll best but there's a lot of beef on one of those, so i have to be HUNGRY to eat a whole one.

        6 Replies
        1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

          Is Brothers in Quincy on Hancock in Quincy Center? And, is it hot roast beef or cold? Pardon the ignorance but I'm from the midwest, where roast beef sandwich usually means hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy on it!

          1. re: EmmaFrances

            Harrison's in North Andover has always been pretty reliable!

            1. re: kparke30

              i find Harrison's beef too thinly sliced and too well done. like a big grey meat paste lump thing. and their ORs are worse than BK.

            2. re: EmmaFrances

              I've never been to the one in Quincy, but at both the one in Weymouth and the one in Abington, the beef is hot and served on a bun that is slathered in butter and grilled for a minute or two on the griddle. I like mine with Lettuce, tomato, Onion and mayo. (no potatoes or gravy) But some like their BBQ sauce which, I think, is a mix of a regular BBQ and Franks Redhot. The only knock against them is that occasionally their beef is a little too well done for me. But more often than not, it's pretty red/pink.

              1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                the "Sauce" served in most joints in Lynn (and the rest of the NShore) is it's own thing and usually for sale from behind the counter.

                for some reason Texas Pete's rings a bell and from looking online i think that's it as i recognze the stick-figure cowboy on the label.


                1. re: ScubaSteve

                  It seems that most of the Roast Beef places I have tried, including Kelly's, serve the James River BBQ sauce. I am a Sweet Baby Ray's man myself but every once in a while I get a craving for the James River sauce.

          2. My favorite, by far, is Billy's Roast Beef on the Melrose/Wakefield line. Second choice is Brother's on Eastern Ave. in Malden. Third choice is Nick's in Saugus.

            1. In general, whether it's a dive or a more upscale place, there's a dearth of decent rolls/buns for burgers, hot dogs, and roast beef sandwiches. I wonder how much more it would cost to offer whole-grain rolls, and how many other people there are like me - I avoid highly-processed starches for health reasons. Consequently, I rarely frequent these places. I would be a regular customer if I could get more complex-carbs and less salt. I know people with young children who would choose such options for their kids, too. I have noticed a few non-chain sub shops starting to offer whole wheat rolls and wraps and hope they are at the forefront of a trend.

              3 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  We overheard two women eating sub sandwiches on the beach recently. One of them said "there's nothing like a New Jersey sub" and when her friend asked her why she replied "It's the bread." Made me want to go to New Jersey.

                  1. re: pondrat

                    Beachmont Roast Beef in Revere (right outside of the Beachmont station). Extra sauce, cheese and mayo.

                2. So Slim, was this a CH vs. Yelp test? And if so, what are your thoughts? :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jgg13

                    Actually, no (jgg13 is referring to the fact that I posted this same query to the Yelp Boston Talk board, their closest equivalent to what Chowhound does). But the responses there have been underwhelming. In general, Yelpers seem to be younger, less experienced, and more limited in their geographic scope. (That's a generalization, and all generalizations are bad.)

                    But the bottom line appears to be that most if not all roast beef sandwich specialty joints in Greater Boston use Sunbeam-grade hamburger buns and sesame seed buns. At best, if you order the gigantic sandwich (which I don't), you still get mass-market-bakery junk, an onion roll on par with the Kasanof's bagged rolls they sell at the Stop & Shop deli counter. Blech.

                  2. I love Jimbo's on Rte 28 in Reading (or it could be Stoneham, not sure where the line is)... but I can't remember what the rolls are like. They are the only place I eat roast beef sandwiches from anymore and I make the trek from Malden... they are that good.

                    1. MC, If I ate roast beef sandwiches, I'd go to Previte's in Quiny Point (soon to be in Weymouth on Rt 53 at the Hingham line). They may not have bulkie rolls, but I know they have very good sub rolls, and I'd bet their RB would be top notch. I believe they have cold and hot. Also, don't miss their Italian subs. They are the freshest, and best. I just made myself hungry for a Previte's anything at 9 in the morning. You know I'll be there tomorrow morning.

                      If you have the time to make them yourself, I'd get the rolls at Fratelli's Bakery in Quincy and the RB at a local reliable deli. Fratelli's rolls, when fresh, do the trick.

                      Hope that helps,

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CocoDan

                        I can't wait for the new Previte's to open. They were going gangbusters on construction a month or two ago but it seems to have slowed; I'm surprised that they're still not open. Their Italian sub is hard to beat.

                      2. I can't remember if the bun was terrible at Charlie's in Middleton, but I have a feeling it was standard sesame seed and mushy. No help here, but just wanted to update folks.