If you live here on the SouthCoast, then chances are you might have had a linguica-topped pizza. As someone who is Portuguese, linguica is not only a staple meat, it's engraved in my DNA.

While I'm on the subject of pizza, one must be aware that takeout pizza and bar pizza are two completely different things. Regular pizza comes in a box, while bar pizza is served on a metal dish (for the most part) or wrapped up in a paper bag if order "to-go." It also features a thin, cracker-like crust, is cooked in a specific type of pan, and features a cheese blend that is more cheddar than mozzarella. Bar pizza is the best type of pizza, bar none. Its well-rounded and delicious features support my case, even if the bar pizza vs. regular pizza debate is bigger than Red Sox-Yankees around here.

There is a Facebook group exclusively for bar pizza lovers called the South Shore Bar Pizza Social Club that supports local mom-and-pop pizza shops and bars serving this style of pizza. The group was first created by a man named Kelly Byrne who is not only a pizza connoisseur but a strong supporter of small businesses. His group started with 1,000 people who shared the same love for bar pizza and has now expanded to a whopping 36,800 people and growing.

With all of the sharing of "best bar pizza" spots and photos from the group members, its effectiveness helped support and keep a large majority of Massachusetts pizza joints in business throughout the pandemic.

"Not one bar pizza establishment closed down," Byrne said.

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Recently, Byrne came across a realization that subliminally put the SouthCoast on the map when it comes to pizza toppings, and it's all about the linguica.

"So, linguica, a smoky Portuguese sausage, may be the signature SSBP topping. And, by that, I mean not the most common or most popular, but a topping you don't find on many other pizzas in many other places," Byrne posted in the group. "I'm told the linguica used by local bar-pizza spots comes from the same smokehouse sausage maker in Fall River."

He's not wrong and the Fall River business he's referring to is Amaral's in Fall River and in New Bedford (same company), I'm being told. Between them, Gaspar's and Michael's, you really can't go wrong. However, Amaral's gets the tip of the hat from the SSBP Facebook group.

"I live in New York City and I've never seen linguica on pizza anywhere," Byrne said. "All the other basic toppings (cheese, pepperoni, etc) are all delicious, but you see it everywhere. That's why linguica, to me, is the signature topping."

Byrne delivered the perfect description of just how influential Portuguese cuisine can be on non-Portuguese establishments.

"Putting linguica on our pizza is a cap tip to local immigrant culinary tradition, with so many Portuguese and Portuguese-Americans just to the south of us on the so-called SouthCoast (New Bedford, Fall River, etc.)," he said.

The Best of South Shore Bar Pizza

There's pizza, and then there's South Shore Bar Pizza. Birthed in Brockton (and to this writer, perfected in Randolph – Lynwood Café is the true G.O.A.T.), it must meet certain qualifications to be considered "SSBP," which include: it's a 10-inch pie; it has a thin, cracker-like crust with minimal "flop;" the cheese is a blend that features more cheddar than mozzarella; and bonus points if you take it home between two carboard-type plates wrapped in flat brown paper bag. They also usually come with "laced" or "burnt" edges (terminology depends on where you are ordering), which is when the sauce and cheese are extended all the way to the edge of the pan, creating a crispy, flavorful coating to the crust. We reached out to the hugely popular South Shore Bar Pizza Social Club Facebook group to ask the experts to share the best of the best (in no particular order).

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