Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Aug 6, 2002 07:42 PM

Is Santarpio's the Best Pizza in Boston?

  • 9

I'm not sure, but it's got to be close to it. 3 of us had lunch there today..and since the other 2 are such prolific writers, I'll leave it to them to post all the details. I thought the pizza was great, we had anchovy, with a side of BBQ sausage and lamb (I know, not real authentic BBQ...but thats what they call it)..also great.

Pizza compared to Regina' favorite in Boston..little different cheese and sauce..but on a par..may have to do further research..:)

An arancini at a little Italian market, fried corn and cheese thingy at a Columbian restaurant, and a cannoli rounded out a nice afternoon.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Used to live in Winthrop and worshipped the 'za at Santarpios. Can't beat the decor and E. unpretentiuos. MMMMMMMMMMMMMisss it!!!

    1. You are SUCH a troublemaker, to start this again! (vbg)...One good pizza, and you're ready to change sides! I still think the dough was on the EDGE of being too thick, it just rose a HINT too much. Nice restraint of cheese quantity, and while the sauce was a pinch sweet, it did work well with the nice salt level, even on the slices with no anchovies...Didn't there seem to be some oil in the dough?
      Clearly, the only way this can be decided is a two-hour lunch next week to compare Haymarket (the TRUE best Boston pizza!), Ernesto's, and Regina's (a clear contender)...

      Only then can we present our champion to those CT hounds!

      7 Replies
      1. re: galleygirl

        You're so right. I never thought Santarpio's was that good..always preferred Regina's..but today's pie was great....more research is needed..:)

        1. re: galleygirl

          Perhaps a wider range of palates should be polled... including, of course, *mine*...

          So if you're serious (and I KNOW you are), is there any chance that this marathon could be scheduled for a Wednesday, or maybe a Friday, so I can play too? Otherwise, my vote would have to go straight to Santarpio's, out of sheer *ignorance*, and that will never do!

          BTW, where's Ernesto's? Don't recall seeing that place mentioned on this board.

          1. re: C. Fox

            Discussions are underway for a Friday hookyplaying option!

            Ernesto's is on Salem Street, a by-the-slice place that always has a HUGE variety of toppings on HUGE slices...Not Haymarket, but the variety is fun....

            1. re: galleygirl

              "Discussions are underway for a Friday hookyplaying option!"

              Hmmm...I could combine this with the Haymarket/North End day I've been promising myself...anybody game to make a chowshopping day of it?

            2. re: C. Fox

              Recounts, revotes, 2nd, 3rd and more opinions are welcome...

              1. re: C. Fox

                Had a brief (1 slice) Ernesto's encounter in May (link attached -- it's somewhere in the middle).


            3. Disgusting. Pizza at Santarpio's and a discussion of its relaive merits vs. Regina, Sally's, Pepe's and others. Without me.
              Absolutely unthinkable I would not have been at the table to share in this.
              Oh well. I'll have to content myself with searching for the perfect crab cake since I live in the D. C. area.
              I do have to admit that I prefer pizza to crab cakes.
              Anyway, guys, I'm jealous.

              By the way has anyone ever heard of a pastry shop in the North End called Mike's? Or a place on Wooster Street in New Haven called Tony and Lucille's? Specifically a fried calzone at the "small" Tony and Lucille's?

              From a list of recommendations from a trusted friend.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Joe H.

                Joe, Joe, Joe...It's your chowskills that motivated the Santarpio's trip...and it was great..thanks for the push..:)

                now Mike's Pastry..there's a lot better to be had in the Boston area....for example.we had a far better cannoli at a place in East Boston..a true chowheaven...Italian and Central American..

                1. re: 9lives

                  Yeah, Joe, we felt you had judged Pepe's unfairly against Santarpio's; that that wasn't the contender we'd send in against the big boys in CT..So we had to choose our contenduh!! Research will continue to determine our challenger!

                  BTW, the Mike's vs. Modern Pastry Debate is second ONLY to the Santarpio's vs.Regina's debate on the Boston Board..Clearly, your next trip will have to research this!


                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Santarpio's is full-stop, my wife's and my favorite place in Boston. The pizza is fantastic and the atmosphere is at least as good. I just read the post about the Central American crawl and as Bugs Bunny would say, "Oooooh! I'm DYin'!"

                    Count me in on your next crawl.

                    1. re: galleygirl

                      Perhaps the most frustrating of all is that I landed at Logan at 7:30 yesterday morning and returned to D. C. at 8 this morning. In between I drove to Salem, NH for a long meeting but there's actually a fairly good slice of pizza there at Sal's Just Pizza. But this morning coming out of the tunnel for the airport, coming around the corner and seeing Santarpio's on the right. Pain. Denial.
                      I've been to Modern. Seriously good. Probably I need to stop at both and sit on a street corner and make a judgment call.
                      But only after osso buco at Mama Maria's which is one of the great versions of it anywhere.
                      Anyway, I'm going to find it very difficult to go back to New Haven and not stop at Pepe's or Sally's to go to Modern Pizza there-which I've never had. I know this has a big following and sometime I'm going to have to try it.
                      Thanks for the nice words everyone.

                    2. re: 9lives

                      Mmmmmm.....the sausage at Santarpio -- I liked that a lot too! I'm going to withhold judgement until I chow at Haymarket pizza, since it comes with kudos from GG. BTW, didn't someone say that the pizza at Antico Forno was also good? Is it a contender? I've yet to pizza there.

                      Just to mix things up a bit on the cannoli front, the cannoli filling at Maria's is also somewhat thicker, not unlike the one we had this afternoon. So if you enjoyed that, I think Maria's is worth trying (they also fill them to order, unlike Mike's).

                      I think my favorite cannoli shell is at Modern's, but I'm still undecided about the filling -- Modern's is ever so slightly runnier, with an honest lumpiness from the ricotta, while Mike's is slightly thicker, although a little farther from the slightly cream cheesy consistency of Maria's.

                      P.S. I owe you guys big time for pointing East Boston out to me.

                  2. Although I would not recommend including it in your pizza chow-tour, I have to put a vote in here for Cafe Louis for best pizza in Boston.

                    Before this view gets dismissed as nonsense, I should mention I grew up constantly comparing Pepe's to Sally's to Modern to Randy's Wooster Street, etc. -- always reserving judgment so that more testing would be needed! And, I've explored NYC: Grimaldi's, John's, Lombardi's, Totonno's, Patsy's, etc. I mention this not to start another silly NYC vs. Boston debate, but rather to illustrate that I am a devotee of the classic pizza parlor pizza (or apizza!) pie.

                    Nonetheless, there is no pizza in Boston I have enjoyed more than the grilled pizzas at Cafe Louis. They are wow-worthy.

                    Of course, this may be comparing apples to oranges. Although Haymarket, Ernesto's, Santarpio's, Regina, and Cafe Louis all serve "pizza", the amorphous individual-sized grilled pizzas at Cafe Louis are a somewhat distant cousin of the parlour-style pies at the former four restaurants. Also, I have to give Haymarket and the like the edge in the value department, as Cafe Louis's divine pizzas come in at around $16.

                    However, if the question really is: Where have I had the best "pizza" in Boston?, I would have to choose Cafe Louis.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: C. Simon

                      Agree that Cafe Louis' grilled pizza is great..also done at Mistral and Stephanie's. I haven't tried Steph's yet but it looks good, costs less, and they have that nice outdoor seating. There are a few places in Providence that make the grilled pizza, made popular by Al Forno (owner of Cafe Louis). But can you compare the "grilled" to "traditional?"'re right..apples and oranges..both great.

                      1. re: 9lives

                        Yeah, during the tasting yesterday, we even discussed how much we love the pizza at FIGS!!!...(Hate the chef, love the pizza..) So, we concede there are other pizza treats in town, all worthy of the calories, and even the money, but we were comparing that ephemeral old style that, for lack of a better description, we grew up with...

                        1. re: 9lives

                          In my experience, the grilled pizzas at Mistral and Stephanie's have been far inferior to Cafe Louis's version. I have not yet tried Al Forno, but I understand that Cafe Louis pizzas are basically the same as the ones at their mother restaurant Al Forno, where rumour has it that grilled pizza was invented.

                          As for the pizza parlour style pies, I never can choose a favorite. I could never choose among Pepe's, Sally's, etc. And, I can't choose among Regina's, Santarpio's, etc. Better keep tasting . . .

                          1. re: C. Simon

                            To add to the debate, there are the new-fangled places with old-style pies. I'm thinking specifically of Upper Crust, on Beacon Hill, and Vici, in COolidge Corner. Although, for the purposes of considering the "best", I would only include Upper Crust. Thin-crust, simple toppings, by the slice. It's damn fine pizza. I think it can compete, at least with Ernesto's (which is thicker-crusted) and maybe even Regina's. (I have yet to try Santarpio's, all the more reason for an official lunchtime pizza test!) ANyway, just a thought.

                            It's been several years, but the grilled pizza at Al Forno in Providence IS astonishingly delicious (and as far as I can tell, completely NOT replicable at home, even following the instructions from their cookbook). Have yet to try the Cafe Louis outpost.

                            1. re: C. Simon

                              I am convinced that the crust alone at Pepe's is the best I have ever had on a pizza anywhere on earth including Naples. It is above this that the confusion starts. Sally's (which has, for me, excellent crust) rises on the incredible amount of olive oil they put on their pies in combination with the "hand picked" tomatoes spread over the crust. Overall I actually like the flavor, above the crust, at Sally's better than Pepe's.
                              Another's comment about pepperoni and Santarpio's was interesting since I ordered an all tomato and cheese, half pepperoni pie. The day I had it the oil from the pepperoni did NOT overpower the pie. Yet I did the same at Pepe's and I felt their pepperoni was a distraction. (Pepe's best pie might be their white clam pie but this is totally unrelated to this topic just as-please forgive me for saying this-I believe grilled pizza or deep dish pizza is. ((The original Uno's in Chicago is far, far superior to anything more than one block away with the Uno's name. For one thing the recipe is literally different; for another some of their pans have fifty years of "seasoning on them.")) To compare variations I believe really does introduce apples and oranges. It's difficult enough to determine whether or not pepperoni should be on the pie!!
                              As for toppings you mentioned Patsy Grimaldi's on the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. They have the best sausage I've ever had on a pizza. Superb. A question: do you think Patsy's in Harlem is better than Grimaldi's?
                              Also, to really take this thing to the next level, has anyone on here ever had pizza from Toccanelli's in Philadelphia which has a coal oven and is an institution in Philly just as Regina and Santarpio's are in Boston?
                              How would you compare this to any of the others mentioned in this thread?

                              1. re: Joe H.

                                To asnwer one of your questions: I don't think Patsy's in Harlem is any better than Grimaldi's. Then again, I have a hard time deciding that any of the great pizza parlours are any better or worse than any others.

                                I have to agree regarding Pepe's crust, though. That's special. Just NEVER get take-out. Actually, never get take-out at any of these places. Unless it's just a slice. I have never known a great pizza to survive a steam bath inside pizza box just moments after it comes out of the oven!

                        2. I'm having pizza at Santarpio's tomorrow night before Cirque du Soleil. I'm really pysched after reading such positive things! Lately there have been some mildly critical, or disappointed, posts. This will be my first time at Santarpio's, and I'm looking forward to trying Regina later this summer.

                          By the way, the BEST pizza I've EVER had was at Spiritus in Provincetown. Pepperoni is my topping of choice, and I like my pizza hot and greasy and foldable. It was all of the above, and they use chunks of spicy pepperoni, as opposed to those floppy little disks of blandness on most pies. It was absolutely everything a pepperoni pizza should be, and is the standard by which I judge all others. PTown is a bit far for a chowhound taste test, but if you ever find yourself out there, give it a shot.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: chilibug

                            I've had Spiritus Pizza and also think it's great.

                            1. re: chilibug

                              Beware, Chilibug, the only thing you may have missed in the other Santarpio's posts, those from HAPPY customers, is that you have the best chance for a good pie if you order it plain...We didn't stress that yesterday, but the bad experience I, and someother hounds had, was getting almost ANYTHING on the pizza (in my case, mushroom)..It seems this crust just doesn't handle it well, the whole thing gets goopy..Anchovies don't count; they seemed to use ground ones as seasoning!...

                              Other hounds (they may not post, but they were chowhounds in their hearts; 9lives saw a bunch of guys on the T with him on the way over that ended up sitting next to us!) seemed to concur..We saw ALL plain cheese pies going by..

                              Our recommended ordering strategy(okay, 9L's and Limster's..) is to get the grilled sausage and/or lamb for that meat fix, but get a virgin pie...

                              1. re: galleygirl

                                After only ordering plain pies and the "BBQ combo" (lamb and sausage) for years at Santarpio's, a friend told me to order the white pie.
                                I was not disappointed.
                                The white pie has caramelized onions and fresh garlic, if I remember correctly. I think some ricotta was involved as well, along with the mozz. Their oven browned the cheese a little bit too ... yum.
                                Anyway, I was skeptical at first, as I love their plain pies. But now when I go with a group, we order a plain AND and a white.

                                1. re: oystershucker

                                  Last weekend was my first time at Santarpio's, despite living in Boston for four years a while back (I was visiting from CT). I loved the atmosphere of the place - great vibe and wonderful karma. The pizza was very very good, too, although my bf and I are partial to Sally's in New Haven...

                                  We arrived at around 6 on a saturday night, and there was, of course, a line, but I bypassed the line just to peek my head into the restaurant and saw a big frowning man cutting loaves of bread with a very large knife on a counter. He pointed to me and grunted, "How many?" I said that I was just peeking, that there was a line ahead of me. Grunt:"I know, I asked you how many? See the girl over there." (very homey lighting, boxing posters and paraphernalia all over the walls, Sinatra's "New York, New York" playing, I loved this place already!) I saw a lady standing by the door taking numbers of parties, and told her we had four, and went back outside. The line moved pretty quickly, though, and we were soon inside the restaurant.

                                  Which brings me to Tony, who was the best part of the Santarpio's experience, at least for us that night. He was our waiter and a serious dynamo. He was all jokes and attitude and charm - he had me laughing or blushing the whole time. I told my friends that I wanted to come back to Santarpio's just to see Tony again.

                                  On to the food. We ordered the barbecue combo plate of lamb and sausage, two plain red pies with garlic and cheese and one red pie with hot peppers. Tony refused to get involved because we were "virgins." The combo plate came out first, and it consisted of a few hunks of bread, a couple hot peppers (which were much much hotter than we'd anticipated), chunks of lamb, and two very fat pieces of sausage. Everything was good, but the sausage was the best part - perfectly crisp and and tight on the outside, very tender on the inside, and full of wonderful flavor. Our pizzas arrived a little later, and when Tony dished them out to our table, he told us that next time we should order a white pie with garlic and his personal favorite, a red pie with garlic, onion, and sausage. So on the spot, we asked him to order us one of his favorites while we worked on our three pizzas. The pizza is not very big, about what a medium would be at other places, but it's very filling. The crust is thicker than the places in New York and New Haven (sorry, I haven't been to Regina's, so I can't compare), is crusty without being too crispy or chewy, with a nice bite to it. The plain pies were our favorite - the pepper was good but seemed to get all soggy. "Tony's special" arrived much later, and was very tasty (it's much much heavier), but we couldn't really do it justice after eating three pies and the barbecue between the four of us.

                                  We had to rush off to see a concert (I don't even know if they have dessert...), but we said goodbye to Tony and sat in the concert in a food coma stupor. It is a wonderful place - I definitely recommend it!