The Goods JP is a charming little pocket of a place that opened last September in the Hyde Square neighborhood. Decor consists of old-timey signs on walls, prints of vintage seed packets, and a chalkboard menu scrawled in bright colors. It’s really a takeout spot, with just a couple of shiny stainless tables, and a few barstools facing the square.
The vast menu consists of comfort foods like pizza, sandwiches, burgers, and wings. What you get are generous portions of gutsy food. Think pulled pork and jalapeno on pizza, sandwiches piled high with toppings and smeared with ripe avocado, herbed cheese, and a creamy Cajun sauce.
Behind these dishes is chef and owner Beth Troisi, a Johnson & Wales grad whose first job out of culinary school was cooking at the Bostonian Hotel with Lydia Shire and Jasper White in the ’80s. At 19 Troisi opened a specialty food shop on Harvard Avenue in Allston. Most recently she has been a private chef, but after turning 50, decided it was time for her own place.
We settle in at a window table and start with JP jps, shorthand for fried jalapeno poppers ($4.99 for a small, $7.99 for large). These are crispy, cream-cheesy, and spicy, in all their heartburn-inducing glory. Next up is an order of wicked good wings ($5.99 for half dozen, $10.99 for a dozen). We opt for classic Buffalo and the thick coating of both panko and regular crumbs is crisp, the wings just licked with tangy hot sauce, rather than drowning in it.
In an effort to introduce something healthy to our menu, we order a grilled veggie salad ($5.99). The combo of mixed greens, tomatoes, and cucumber with grilled zucchini, onions, summer squash, and mushrooms seems tired. A kale and brown rice salad with shredded carrots and black beans is billed as “amazing” but it’s just satisfactory.
You know what is amazing? The house-made Italian relish that dresses up sandwiches and pizza, and should be bottled for sale. It’s a simple combination of sweet and vinegar peppers put through the grinder. Troisi learned to make it 20 years ago from her grandmother and says, “No one makes it anymore.” Troisi’s grandmother inspires much of her cooking. She sources all the Italian meats from Cara Donna company, whose North End shop her grandmother frequented with her young granddaughter in row.
Prosciutto cotto, Genoa salami, mortadella, and sweet capicola all make an appearance in Beth’s Italian sandwich ($8.99) along with sharp provolone, romaine, and that memorable relish. It all settles into a soft spuckie roll.
Other meats are roasted in-house, which makes a world of difference. Cajun turkey sandwich ($8.99) comes piled high with roasted red peppers, avocado, Cajun sauce, and Boursin cheese. The flavor is great, but it could use a little crunch. One disappointment is the brie and fig sandwich ($7.99) with fig preserves, and toasted walnuts on a baguette. It tastes like a giant Fig Newton, with crunchy onions.
The Black Jack ($8.49), however, is a lovely take on the Reuben, with dark pastrami, pepper Jack, Russian dressing, and sriracha slaw on rye. The sandwiches are perfect picnic fare, made to be unwrapped from their red-and-white checkered paper under blossoming trees in the nearby Arnold Arboretum.
There is a list of “oddly good pizzas” ($15.99). Our first is the divine tropical hog, which stays miraculously crisp under the weight of pulled pork, sweet mango barbecue sauce, and a sprinkle of roasted red peppers, fresh jalapenos, and mozzarella. Too big and too filling to finish. White artichoke is very cheesy and salty, with capers, garlic, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, ricotta, and lots of Parmesan. Our favorite is the Italian relish, topped with ricotta, provolone, mozzarella, tomatoes, Genoa salami (or pepperoni) ,and the addictive relish.
On nights when Troisi is in the house, tables are a little cleaner, the counter service perkier and more attentive. The food however, is consistently good on all nights. “I work hard at it,” says Triosi.
It shows.Catherine Smart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.