Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
May 17, 2011 05:11 AM

Riverside Pizza & Seafood [cambridgeport]

Everybody's got their sub shop. Limited to a very select few (Bob's eg), you can count the number of destination sub shops on one hand, including the ones you're schlepping across burbs for because they slap together the Delaware Valley hoagie that you grew up with. I've been yammering on lately about Riverside Pizza & Seafood (affectionately known as Da Riv, maybe only by me and my pals), but it's by no means a destination sub shop, just happens to be my neighbourhood lunchington haunt. Putting aside the fact that they've deviated from classic Greek pizza/sub shop naming convention, they're otherwise true to the tradition. Standard array of hoagies & grinders - steak bombs, parms, meatballs, italians - all very competently prepared, sourcing high-quality commercial products. This is standard-issue smooshy whitebread kinda stuff. As charmingly Greek as the owners are, they're slinging Kronos gyros like the rest of em. But don't tell me you don't eat that shit, because you do, because the heart wants what the heart wants, and the heart, for some wickedly ironic reason, every now and then, wants to be stuffed full of cheap grease, and the heart can get that fix on the corner of every nabe in town. My pusherman just happens to be at Da Riv.

My personal fave, standard order, signature sander (around the office, at least), is the hot'strami. High-grade outsourced pastrami slapped on the flattop for a few, just to get sweaty in some places and crispy in others, a slice of melty provolone, stuffed into a toasted roll with a schmear of mustard. On Fridays and particularly ruff Mondays, I may opt for hots as well, which are a giardiniera-like tangy concoction, bringing a fair punch of heat. She'll travel reasonably well, but better off to take up position in the back bar with an ice-cold domestic and a repeating run of classic R&B/soul. Plenty of bad pastrami abound, I find their product to be at least a tier or two better than others, but in the grand scheme of things this is like talking Boars Head to Carl Buddig. Good enough that an old regular recently tipped me off to the pastrami pizza which was so dang delicious I owe this guy a lifetime bartab. Greazy Greek style cheese pie, thick-rimmed buttery crust, topped with crispy juicy strips of pastrami, I try to limit it to Fridays as well. Sometimes challenging Mondays. But only once a month. Unless it's a month that ends in 'r'. Those months also call for multiple bowls of their chicken soup, avgolemono-inspired, a homemade matter of pride affair, always scaldingly scrumptious.

I have mentioned the classic Lenten pepper & egg elsewhere -

In addition to the Italian -

The gyros are poorly-executed Kronos, sometimes not even crispy - take a pass. The fries are frozen, sub-Sysco, unseasoned - take a pass, move on to the onion rings. Cheesesteaks, better off elsewhere - steak tips, however, excellent. Ups and downs go on and on. The burger is gray, if you want it, take a tip from Salt Lake City (their only tip), and get it topped with some pastrami. I've yet to get to the fried seafood, but I'm feeling good about it. Because they can fry. Them boys can fry !

By now hopefully I've lost all readers, because the main point of all the jibber-jabber is that Da Riv has the best fried chicken in Boston. It's the whole point. The chicken is what you drive across town for. It's a 'broasted' bird (they don't have the magical patented Broaster (TM) that can allow them to use the term), pressure-fried, not unlike the Colonel's. If you like big one-inch thick craggy crusts on your bird, go somewhere else. This is not battered, it's barely breaded, simply seasoned and given a quick slam-dunk in the pressure-fryer. The result is a crispy seasoned skin that tastes like skin, and gives way to salty schmaltzy meat. Like all broaster birds, they are accompanied by JoJo's, fat potato wedges also pressure-fried with super-fluffy-cloud innards. Optional. Fried chicken - not optional. Legs, whole wings, breast, it doesn't really matter, though I tend to always get a leg at least, added benefit of getting an oyster, piece de resistance. Life stopped for many people, including myself, when the magical broaster machine was on the fritz for several months. Thankfully, unemployed MIT engineers abound, it's back up and running and, after a few adjustments, back to its bad ol' self.

Riverside Pizza & Seafood

305 River St

Cambridge, MA 02139

(617) 354-8800

closed on Sundays

Riverside Pizza & Seafoods
305 River St, Cambridge, MA 02139

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. OK, you've already got me hooked on the subs. I have been eyeing that chicken when in there as it looks and smells great. When I stop by, generally about lunch time, the glass case is full of hot fried chicken. I have been wondering if it loses anything sitting there. Do they cook it to order, or strictly out of the case. Either way, I'll try a piece next time I am waiting for my sub.

    1. Thanks for this one Nab. I've past this place a hundred times but never tried it. Always looking for fried chicken of note and I wouldn't have thought that a Pizza place would be worth the calories.

      1. Oh gawd, that chicken is really good! It was a dark dark day when I stopped in and found that the magic machine was broken. The owner just kept shaking his head and didn't look hopeful. But as Nab said, we've got some smart whiz kids in this town, and the fryer is BACK!

        Everything else in this description is right on ... very thin schmaltzy salty skin shattering off the tender meat; meat slipping from bones with little resistance, small almost delicate pieces of bird (these aren't gargantuan birds and I think the chicken is more flavorful as a result).

        I don't love the JoJo's, but that's a nit. The guys are really nice, the chicken is great, and the place does deserve a drive across town to get that bird!

        3 Replies
        1. re: yumyum

          Oh! I forgot I have chicken prOn pix to add. This will give you a sense of the thin crispy coating....

        2. sounds awesome-- do they do the chicken Saturdays lunchtime?

          2 Replies
          1. re: barleywino

            They sure do, BW. In fact, it's a critical point that Gabatta has brought up too. They do fry in batches, right before the lunch crush, and then I can again smell them a mile away right after the workday. Not sure what the timing of batches are in between those hours though. Your best bet is to roll in there around 11:30am, though I will say, the chicken does not seem to suffer from an hour in the heatlamp. At all. OTOH, if you have a bit of time on your hands, go at a totally off-peak hour and have them fry up a batch for you to-order. Nice thing is that you can order just one wing, if you're only looking to dip a toe in the water. But who does THAT ?

            gourmaniac - you probably have seen/tried the many Indo-Pak broaster chicken places in Toronto too, many of which are excellent (different flavour profile obviously), this is a distant delicious cousin

            1. re: Nab

              kewl. I haven't had the Indo-Pak broaster places but know what I'll be having on my next visit. I recall a broasted fried chicken place from my youth and the machine looked like something from a nuclear submarine.

          2. I am suggestible and clearly nuts so I stopped in today to try the hot ' strami ... here are some pix...

            Also, a wing happened to jump in my bag too ... ooopsie!

            The hot pastrami is delectable -- and as Nab has said, the subs are neat and tidy and not a total disaster to eat -- a three or four napkin affair. Got it straight up with mustard on a toasted roll with provolone and a side of hots on the side. The mustard is where it's AT for me, but the hots add a little more tingly tang to the bites when you want it.

            1 Reply