NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Downtown Haverhilll’s newest food-stop Stacks up well against its competition

Located at 144 Washington St, Stacks is the bold and enticing sandwich-focused restaurant that provides casual eaters and foodies alike a satisfying  blend of craft and comfort that is likely to please. Stacks restaurant is downtown Haverhill’s newest addition to the cities ever-growing culinary landscape, and offers a menu that takes the sandwich and elevates it to a flavorful architectural experience. The Stacks menu consists of appetizers, craft sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, and salads. The main stars of the Stacks menu are its sandwiches, with 14 varied and diverse options that span the globe with their range of worldy ingredients.

 The adventure doesn’t stop there – Stacks also specializes in gourmet milkshakes that are a combination of whimsical concepts and indulgent ingredients that can be ordered either with or without alcohol in them. The aptly named “Boozy Shake Menu” features 12 main shakes, one monthly special shake, and an option for a “basic” shake, which can be done 11 ways. Stacks also offers brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with breakfast style sandwiches being the primary focus.

Stacks is the product of two brothers, Chef Paul and Chef Anthony Tomacchio. The two co-run this new Haverhill hot spot and show their culinary perspective through their alluring and comforting craft sandwich and milkshake menu. Opened in November of 2021, Stacks brings a refreshing perspective to the culinary viewpoint that downtown Haverhill has to offer. With it’s share of Mexican, Chinese, Greek, and American cuisines, the food scene of downtown Haverhill has been begging for a place to open that can hold its own as an establishment that understands good cooking and good flavor and is able to use those things to create something that is inherently accessible yet still different. Stacks in downtown Haverhill manages to do just that. It is their focus on something than can and tends to be average at best – the sandwich – being done in a spectacular way that gives Stacks diners something they can recognize fundamentally that is enhanced and propelled into exciting territory through the treatment and intelligent usage of exciting ingredients.

 This is evident through the Bulgogi Cheesesteak sandwich, which takes the American Philly Cheesesteak classic and revamps it by putting a Korean spin on it through Korean inspired ingredients. Sandwiched between a great ciabatta sub roll, the spicy, thinly sliced shave steak that is bulgogi adds a baseline heat to the sandwich, paying homage and giving respect to the fiery tendency that a lot of Korean food has. Chef Paul and Chef Antony go even further to kick up the notch with this sandwich by adding of the fermented flavor bomb kimchi to the pile. Of course there is cheese, and plenty of it – the staple ingredient of a classic cheese steak had to remain.  American cheese ties this taste bud tantalizer together in a well thought out and satisfying spin on an iconic American sandwich.

The sandwiches truly are the heart and essence of the Stacks experience. Diners can be transported to Vietnam with the classic Bahn Mi sandwich, which Stacks serves on ciabatta rather than the traditional french baguette most bahn mi sandwiches are made with. Still, Stacks keeps the familiarity where they need to – ensuring that their bahn mi comes with the pickled carrots that make up a typical bahn mi – adding their Stacks spin on it by adding pickled cucumber, slaw, and the delicious umami of the sweet and sultry hoisin sauce to top it all off. Stacks is considerate of the vegetarian diner, who can order this sandwich with blackened tofu instead of the pork carnitas that it comes with.

Stacks offers two smash burgers as part of their craft sandwich section, with one option for a more traditional American style burger – with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a potato roll – and one option for a more sophisticated and daring smash burger that comes with peach mayo, goat cheese, and a unique sangria mayo. The craft sandwich section brings diners on a trip to Louisiana, where Stacks diners can experience the Stacks take on the traditional, iconic po’boy sandwich that has  become a staple to the Cajun area and culture of the Bayou in America. Two pieces of ciabatta are the vessel for the fried Cajun shrimp that is nestled within a heaping portion of slaw, tomato, American cheese, and Cajun aioli.

Vegans even have a place at the table in the craft sandwich section! Stacks provides a satisfying and vegetarian and animal-byproduct free sandwich called the Vegan, which consists of mixed greens, hummus, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and balsamic glaze on a ciabatta sub roll. This is a refreshing option for vegans and vegetarians and meat eaters alike who may be looking for a vegetarian option that doesn’t rely on the overdone, often dry black bean veggie burger seen on so many restaurant menus. Stacks sandwiches range from $13 dollars to $17 dollars.

As if the sandwiches weren’t adventurous enough, Stacks brings the fun to another level with their epic milkshakes. All constructed around a mason jar, the milkshake at Stacks is ice cream based, with some kind of flavored rim on the jar, a type of sauce or drizzle, and a giant chunk of some kind of dessert delicacy topping it all off. A diner who is in love with cheesecake is in luck – the Creamsicle Cheesecake milkshake (no, that isn’t a typo – this magnificent creation truly exists…) is a mouthwatering and gut shattering vision of creamsicle flavored ice cream with an orange marmalade drizzle and a vanilla frosted rim rolled in graham cracker crumbs. As if it couldn’t get any more out of this world, Stacks guilds the lily by adding a slice – yes, a whole slice – of beautifully luscious cheesecake right on top of the mason jar – finishing it off with another drizzle of orange marmalade and a dollop of whipped cream.

 The creativity and imagination within the line of Stacks’ milkshakes is endless and an effort that should be applauded. The ability of Chef Paul and Chef Anthony to pick out culinary gems from the sweet tooth archives of American history and to work them into something that is new and exciting is definitely what makes the Stacks experience not just satisfying but utterly unique. Other shakes like the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bread Pudding zone in on nostalgic American classic flavors from the cereal realm and pair them with a hard to resist bread pudding that tops the vanilla ice cream based shake. The fun continues with the Strawberry Lemonade milkshake that consists of strawberry lemonade ice cream, a strawberry sauce drizzle, and a vanilla cupcake with strawberry and lemon sauce topping it all off. Again, the cupcake isn’t served on the side with the milkshake – it is literally right on top of your milkshake, inviting you to plunge in for a bite of cake soaked in milkshake.

Stacks gives diners multifaceted milkshakes that go beyond the typical just-one-flavor-of-ice-cream-with-milk-formula that is the common standard in America when it comes to a milkshake or frappe. Stacks uses unique ice cream flavors with other flavorful inclusions, such as syrups, coated rims, and whipped cream, alongside an actual chunk of dessert that they include on the shake to make it a well rounded, well thought out, all-bases-covered sensory (and just plain fun) culinary experience. Stacks’ mad milkshakes can be ordered for $15, with the addition of “booze” to any of the deluxe milkshakes for another $4 dollars.

If you are looking for a place to eat in downtown Haverhill that ditches the pretense of the culinary scene while still maintaining technique and mindful flavor combinations through the medium of comforting and satisfying things like sandwiches and milkshakes – then Stacks is the place for you. Chef Paul and Chef Anthony have created a cohesive menu of exciting, well-done sandwiches that are made with high quality ingredients and a culinary expertise behind them in order for the diner to have the chance to experience things that may be familiar in some way but lead you away from what you may expect about those familiar things.

Stacks’ aresenal of tasty and comforting food takes the framework of American classics and has tweaked and improved them through a clearly present knowledge and understanding of food at the basis of it all. Stacks is the result of two chefs who clearly have the culinary skill that only a seasoned chef can acquire through school, work experience, or a combination of both – and have injected it into their casual food in order to make it something you won’t forget. Stacks sets itself apart from the competition while keeping their feet on the ground.