Santarpio’s Pizza

By Eric Twardzik   East Boston (+) · Italian · Pizza · $

Every conversation we have about Boston pizza tends to begin and end with the same word: “Santarpio’s.”

This venerable East Boston institution started serving up carbs one way or another when it first opened as a bakery in 1903. Since then it’s become a local icon, beloved for both its hefty pies and its unvarnished approach to service and décor.

On most nights, we expect to wait. And there’s no hostess to dutifully scribble down names or numbers, either; if Santarpio’s is full, Santarpio’s is full—and it’s best to just fall in line behind everyone else.

Inside, it’s hard to imagine that much has changed since the Kennedy years. Photos of boxers from another era dot the walls, Sinatra croons from the speakers, and even a payphone idles in a corner. A wooden screen separates the smallish dining room from a long wooden bar, whose stools provide an excellent view of steak tips and lamb skewers sizzling on an open grill.

But we’re here for one reason: pizza.

The pies resist all attempts at easy classification. The crust is light, chewy, and well-charred like a Neapolitan, yet the rest is as thick, cheesy, and foldable as a New York slice. We like to think of it as the best of both worlds. Even better: All pies range from $9.50 to $19.50 and easily satisfy two diners.

No delivery is offered, but takeout is an option. Yet while tucking into a Santarpio’s pie would surely be just as satisfying at home, there’s something about that unabashedly rough-around-the-edges attitude that keeps us coming back inside.

Like all the best diamonds-in-the-rough, Santarpio’s is strictly cash-only. Luckily there’s an ATM inside.

Any pizza can be ordered “white,” aka sans sauce.

A second location in Peabody serves up the same satisfying pies, although it lacks this one’s East Boston atmosphere.

Must Haves

  • Cheesy, meaty, garlicky-and yes-greasy: This is pizza at its comfort-food finest.

  • Featuring mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, sausage, pepperoni, and extra cheese, this delightfully heavy pie contains nearly every topping Santarpio's can muster (except anchovies, of course).

  • This sauce-free pie embodies the broccoli-chicken combo of Italian-American ziti fame.

Fun Fact

Look above the end of the bar furthest from the door for a photo of JFK himself campaigning outside Santarpio’s.

Tastes of Santarpio’s Pizza

So good we can't stop writing about it. Read more about Santarpio’s Pizza!

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