Woody’s Grill & Tap: A hidden gem in Boston’s Back Bay

At Woody’s Grill & Tap, pizza has graduated from greasy to grown-up.

The restaurant, located at 58 Hemenway St. in Boston, is a dependable hideaway in a college neighborhood: Its nestled facade blends in with Northeastern University’s residence halls and apartment buildings. Woody’s specializes in pizza, but the menu also contains a wide selection of craft beers, appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees. The restaurant draws a young crowd, mostly locals living in the Back Bay neighborhood and area college students. Located a few blocks from Fenway Park, Woody’s attracts a big baseball crowd when the Boston Red Sox are in full swing. Several televisions are mounted on the walls for diners to watch sports  games.

So, what makes Woody’s pizza rise a notch above other pizzerias’ pies? The soft, thin crust pizzas are made in a stone-based wood burning oven. My cousin, aunt and I ate at Woody’s last week. We didn’t have to wait for a table because we avoided the dinner rush by going at 5 p.m. We ordered two large pizzas: veggie ($13.85) and meatballs ($12.85). The waiter, who was both friendly and attentive, brought the pizzas to the table quickly – within 15 minutes or so after we placed our orders. I enjoyed the veggie pizza because the name persuaded me that I was choosing a “healthy” pie with eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli and sliced tomatoes. The cooks topped the pizza with a mesclun salad, which made it difficult to hold my slice without lettuce falling onto my plate. We also ordered sodas and waters, and the bill was $31.24, excluding tip. Not bad for a Friday night in Boston.

Veggie

Meatballs

At Woody’s, you might pay a few more dollars than you would at the neighboring Cappy’s Pizza & Subs or Boston House of Pizza, but nothing beats its brick oven pies. I don’t mind spending three or four more dollars for a pizza when it’s not dripping with grease. If you want to grab a slice late at night on a weekend, you won’t run into huge crowds of drunken students since Woody’s is located blocks away from Huntington Avenue. When relatives and friends visit, I often take them to Woody’s because I know we will enjoy a great meal at a fair price. Each time I eat there, I only order pizza because I think its pies are unmatched in Boston. My favorite is the barbecue chicken pizza.

The menu provides almost a dozen signature pies, including a meat lover’s “Kitchen Sink” (small $11.95, large $14.95), “Jamaican Jerk” ($10.95, $13.95), Greek ($11.25, $14.25), white clam ($11.25, $14.25) and barbecue chicken ($10.95, $13.95). Toppings to add to a classic cheese pizza ($7.85, $10.85) include, but are not limited to, bacon, broccoli, chicken sausage, garlic, ham, Italian sausage, meatballs, white mushrooms, pineapple and spinach.

Other items are “traditional” pub appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts: buffalo wings ($7.25), hummus plate ($6.95), fresh mozzarella ($7.95), fried calamari ($9.50); House ($5.75), Italian ($7.25) and Caesar ($6.95) salads; sirloin burger ($7.75), veggie burger ($7.25), roast turkey sandwich ($7.50); fish and chips ($14.50), lamb loin ($14.50), steak tips ($15.95), wild mushrooms pasta ($13.95); and cheesecake, orange honey cake and ice cream fudge trifle.

I always enjoy the relaxed, casual and comfortable atmosphere, but seating is limited. Two brick ovens and a long, wooden bar take up half of the small establishment. There is space for about 12 tables and booths in the dining area. There is limited parking on Hemenway Street because many of the spots are marked with “Resident Parking Only” signs. If visiting during baseball season, plan accordingly because Woody’s doesn’t take reservations. The restaurant accepts cash or credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express).

Address: 58 Hemenway St., Boston, MA 02115

Phone: (617) 375-9663

Website: Not available

Open daily for lunch and dinner

Dining room: Sun-Wed: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Thurs-Sat: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Bar: Sun-Wed: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Thurs-Sat: 11:30 a.m. – Midnight

Takeout Available

Dress Code: Casual

Wheelchair Accessible

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