Last night I ordered a spicy sausage pizza for carry-out. The hostesses always recognize me and smile when I come in. The pizza was delicious. But this time, something was different. Within hours, the restaurant would burn to the ground. When I walked past the smoldering remains this morning, just a block from my home, firefighters were painting the area with ladder-mounted cannons. I ate the leftovers, but it didn’t seem right.
If it’s true that you are what you eat, then this year I’m a changed man. Last night six of my neighborhood restaurants were completely destroyed, and a seventh happens to be closing. These are my go-to places—the restaurants closest to my front door—and they are—were—a big part of what makes me so fond of this location. Among the losses:
El Pelon Taqueria, where I’ve been eating burritos to the strains of loud Banda music weekly for at least 5 years.
Thornton’s Fenway Grille, where I take every visitor for breakfast.
Rod-Dee Thai Cuisine, a very respectable Thai place.
Sorento’s Italian Gourmet, makers of the finest pizza I’ve had in Boston.
An equally surreal scene unfolded this evening as fire investigators finished exploring the buildings and utility crews repaired the infrastructure. Floodlights were erected. A team of riggers used huge portable cranes to lift—no, tear—the air conditioning units free of the collapsed roof. A group of waitresses huddled on the sidewalk, cried, hugged each other, and took snapshots. Some stood on the icy street drinking beers, oblivious to the police presence. Strangers stopped strangers and exchanged stories. A stack of plywood was delivered. Trucks began to depart. The neighborhood is going to be quiet for a while.