Phantom Gourmet: Monument In Charlestown

CHARLESTOWN – While the Bunker Hill Monument is impressive, Charlestown just got itself a new Monument that is doing one delicious battle on your taste buds. Located on Main Street, Monument is a collaboration of four veterans of the Boston restaurant scene, including John Sweeney, who wanted to bring that high-end experience to his ‘hood.

“Our goal with Monument was just to build a really great neighborhood restaurant for Charlestown. We all have ties to the neighborhood, whether it was growing up here or living here at some point. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for almost ten years and the neighborhood has been great to us.”

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To give back, John and his team have created an impressive looking space with high ceilings, a fun bar, and lots and lots of wood.

“When you walk into Monument, I think the first thing you notice is all the wood, all the brick,” John described. “On the right side, we have our 40 foot long wood bar. To the left, you’re going to see a big dining room with the open kitchen. You see the flame from the pizza oven and it just makes you relax and makes you ready to eat some good food.”

Making all that yumminess in the extremely open kitchen is Executive Chef Nick Panagos.

“We’re literally in the center of the restaurant, so everybody can see. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s definitely fun.”

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Lemon Rosemary Wings at Monument (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

The menu is lined with all of your favorite things, from indulgent Arancini Carbonara stuffed with crispy pancetta and plenty of fontina cheese, to the addictive Lemon Rosemary Wings roasted in the wood fire and served with buttermilk dressing.

“We don’t fry our wings. We bake them in the pizza oven,” John said. “They get this nice crust on the outside, they stay really juicy on the inside, and they’re flavored with lemon and rosemary. They’re great.”

For an Asian spin on a very trendy side dish, order some Kung Pao Brussel Sprouts.

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Kung Pao Brussel Sprouts at Monument (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“We take the brussels, we throw in some sweet chili sauce, some shisito peppers and then we top it with some Sichuan peppercorns,” John explained. “All the different flavors kind of just combine to make it taste awesome.”

Since the wood fired oven is such a showpiece, the pizza is a must order.

“It is a 100 percent wood fire pizza oven. We have one guy working back there every night, feeding the oven, working six pizzas at a time, stretching pizza to order. It gets about 900 degrees,” Chef Nick said.

There is the classic Margherita pizza topped with hand crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and creamy mozzarella; or the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza which uses an herby buttermilk ranch as the base with roasted chicken, bacon and peppers on top. For a spicy slice go for the Sausage Pizza, loved by staff and locals alike.

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Sausage Pizza at Monument (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“My favorite pizza is our sausage pizza,” John said. “We have great local sausage. Put some peppadew peppers on there, a little bit of spicy tomato sauce and you kind of get that sweet, savory mix of flavors.”

“If I had to compare it to anything, I would compare it to a sausage and pepper sub at Fenway,” added Nick.

For something between the bun, you can opt for the Steak and Cheese served all hot and melty with French soup onions and truffle aioli in a pressed ciabatta, or indulge in a lobster roll, served either hot or cold. Pattie lovers need to add Monument’s Smash Burger to their burger bucket list.

“People have told us that the smash burger is life changing,” John said. “We sear the patties with the onions on the flattop, so it gets really crispy around the outside, stays juicy in the middle. It’s a two hand burger. You definitely gotta wrap your hands around it. Gets a little bit messy, but that’s what makes it’s great.”

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Smash Burger at Monument (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Just as impressive are the entrees. You’ll find everything from a Roasted Pork Chop topped with a sunny side up heirloom egg; a massive, family-style Paella loaded up with seared scallops, chunks of lobster and spicy chorizo over a flavorful saffron rice; and a seared skirt steak served over perfectly cooked polenta and topped with a charred avocado, smoked paprika butter and a bright snap pea chimichurri.

“It’s super acidic so it cuts through the fat in the skirt steak and the fat in the polenta. You got all these different textural mouth-feels going,” Chef Nick explained. “It’s my favorite dish on the menu. That’s how good it is.”

The goodness goes right through dessert with sweets like Strawberry Trifle, Butterscotch Pudding, and hot, handmade Doughnuts filled with warm chocolate.

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Warm chocolate filled donuts at Monument (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“They come out super hot. You bite into them, that chocolate oozes out and it’s served with an espresso anglaise. You dip the doughnuts in there. You got the hot chocolate, the creamy anglaise, the espresso, it’s awesome,” Nick promised.

With apps averaging around 10 dollars and entrees topping out in the mid-twenties, you will find Monument to be a monumental value.

Monument is at 251 Main Street in Charlestown, and online at monumentcharlestown.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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