You might think that the owners of Beat Da’ Wrap Pizza & Grill in a Waltham office park are gangster movie fans. A framed poster of “Goodfellas” hangs near the soda machine, alongside a portrait of “The Godfather” with the quote “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Lou Tasiopoulos and Laz Askitis, former owners of The Rack nightclub (now closed) near Faneuil Hall, explain that the posters came with the place when they assumed ownership seven months ago. Chef Carlos Garcia still runs the kitchen, but the mob-themed movie decor — along with the previous owner’s inventory of nutritional supplements — are on their way out. Self-serve frozen yogurt dispensers occupy the space where the vitamin counter used to be. But the duo plans to keep the name of the restaurant. “It’s catchy,” Askitis says, “even though we do more than wraps.”
Judging by the lunch rush line, customers — students from nearby Bentley University and workers from the surrounding offices — have figured that out. They place their orders at the counter and take a booth or table to wait for the staff to bring them out; or they watch one of the flat screens tuned to ESPN while a takeout order is filled.
On a recent afternoon, we’re among the many customers ordering made-from-scratch soups ($3.75), all hearty and satisfying. Beef vegetable soup is full of meat, celery, carrots, and potatoes in a piping hot broth. We can’t decide if we like it more than the chicken and rice soup or a special pasta-vegetable soup.
We pair them with a basil turkey wrap ($7.25), a generous bundle of thinly sliced white meat (Beat Da’ Wrap roasts 10 birds a week) plus fresh basil, tomato, Swiss cheese, and a tangy drizzle of honey-mustard dressing. Spinach salad ($7.25) features pristine fresh baby leaves, cucumbers cut on the bias, tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, and crisp diced bacon. We ask for the cheese and balsamic dressing on the side and staff is happy to accommodate. All salads can be ordered with additions such as chicken salad (add $3.75), steak tips ($6.75), or grilled salmon ($6.75), which turns out to be excellent, a made-to-order 8-ounce fillet with a light char from the grill. The chef usually cooks it all the way through, so say if you prefer it a tad pink.
Looking around at other tables, American grill favorites are popular. The Angus burger ($8.25) comes as requested: medium rare with lettuce and tomato (leafy greens instead of iceberg and a riper tomato would have been preferable). The juicy handmade patty steals the show. It requires more than one napkin, which you may find yourself fetching for the table (no dispensers within reach). Alas, surprisingly limp french fries also lack salt. Much crisper and well-seasoned are golden beer-battered onion rings. Fries or onion rings come with all burgers or can be ordered as appetizers ($3.50 and $4.25, respectively).
A spot with pizza in the name should offer a stellar pie. A slice of pepperoni ($2.75) features a nice chewy crust, but the sauce and toppings are pretty standard. The Shine Box ($7.75), an Italian-style sub with mortadella, hot capicola, salami, provolone cheese, and vinegary hot peppers, is tasty enough, but we hoped for more meat and less bread. The turkey burger ($8.75) is altogether disappointing, rubbery and lacking flavor; this patty is a far cry from the house-cooked breast meat. Beat Da’ Wrap falls short when it relies on pre-made items like the turkey patty or a side garden salad that tastes suspiciously like prepackaged, and not so fresh, mix. That seems to be an anomaly because entree salads are invitingly fresh.
End with a sweet treat from the frozen yogurt bar. You’ll weigh and pay for it at the former vitamin counter. Even when the gangster movie posters come down, this tasty fare will be on offer. Right now, the idea of The Godfather licking icy yogurt is amusing.Ellen Bhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.