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Dive Bar Fly on the Wall at Anchovies

Dive Bar Power Hour, part of Cocktail Week 2014, continues with an evening at Anchovies, a cozy restaurant and bar in the South End.

It's Monday night, and we just walked in Anchovies in the South End. The aroma of red sauce, melted cheese, and meatballs hangs heavy; it smells exactly like what you want your local pizza joint/dive bar to smell like. Red lights give the whole place a crimson glow. We look around, hoping for a seat at the bar. There's only a couple of scattered single barstools, and we debate whether or not we want to be those people that ask if others would mind "scooching." A couple of guys yell out to us. "We'll move down, here! Sit over here," they say in friendly voices that makes us feel welcome.

We get situated, order a drink, and start to look at the menu. To the right of me, a guy is listening to a woman vent about a friend who is making a big mistake. She is drinking a glass of white wine, and he's drinking what is presumably a vodka tonic. She pays her bill; he insists on giving her a hug. She leaves. Two more people come in and know the hugger. We start to call him The Mayor. The bartender knows everyone who just walked in, and he verifies their "usual" drink order. More people come in. Everyone seems to know The Mayor.

Seated behind me, a family of three. Mom and Dad aren't talking about something that seems serious. The daughter plays video games, almost unaware that she's even here. She ignores Mom's plea for her to eat. She's busy; she's got a game to win. Our new buddies that so kindly made room for us have ordered quite the spread: toasted ravioli that is served neatly in a porcelain French onion soup crock and a side of red sauce, two tennis ball-sized meatballs, and a basket of skinny French fries. The smell of truffle oil that the fries are laced with rises up and lingers. We get hungry as we wait for our pizza.

The Mayor is sitting by himself now. His friends had one drink and then left. A sad-looking younger gentleman takes a seat next to him. He orders a vodka and soda. He is lost in thought. The Mayor strikes up a conversation with him, and the two end up chatting like old friends.

Video Game Girl takes a break from the game and announces loudly to Mom that one of her teeth is about to fall out. Four out of six people that are sitting around us are scrolling through their Facebook feed. The Mayor is showing his feed to the sad, younger gentleman. Bits of conversations can be heard along with rickety wooden chairs that scratch against the worn floors. Someone from across the bar loudly declares, "I've never met anyone in my life that doesn't like cheese." ACDC plays so softly in the background that you almost don't even hear it.

Our pizza is accidentally delivered to The Mayor. He says it's not his, and we claim the pie. It has shaved meatballs that rest on top of sweet red sauce and cheese that stretches and pulls dramatically with each slice that is removed from the well-worn silver pizza plate. We get lost in our pizza while two women come in. They're very excited to see The Mayor, and he stands up to give them each a big hug, the type that both parties hang on a little longer then they should and sway left and right. He eyes her bag. "Is that a real Fendi?" he asks in surprise. She sheepishly admits that it is not as she takes off a jacket that reveals a fluffy white sweater that has a giant postcard embroidered on it. Where an address should be, it says in bold letters, "I'm here! Please love me!" She and The Mayor get lost in conversation and laugh often. Even Sad, Younger, Gentleman joins in on the fun. He's now part of the group. Our buddies that originally offered us our seats whisper to us that next time we're here we HAVE to get the meatball calzone. They follow up with approval of our order. The meatballs are out of this world, they say, and we agree.

We finish up our wine and pizza. We head out to our car. It's a crisp fall night. The kind that is perfect in that classic New-England-in-October sort of way. We ask ourselves why we don't go to Anchovies more often, and we debate how high it ranks on the dive bar scale. It's got the look, old and well-warn, quirky in its decorating and looking like it hasn't changed since the 70s or 80s. It's the tough type of place that seems like at any minute it could get rough around the edges, but it never does. It seems to be the place that everyone knows your name, and as Bostonians, isn't that what we're supposed to want? It's reasonably priced, especially for the high-end neighborhood it's situated in, and whether or not truffle oil fills the air with its perfume shouldn't deter it from its dive bar status. It's got it's own kind of charm, and for a night like tonight, it's just perfect.


433 Columbus Avenue, , MA 02116 (617) 266-5088