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Is Santarpio's the Best Pizza in Boston?

9
9lives Aug 6, 2002 07:42 PM

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's..my 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. l
    libertywharf Feb 5, 2013 08:55 AM

    I've been going to santarpios since the 60's. I like the pizza here better then Regina and most places. It's a must visit for anyone who likes pizza.

    1. h
      HubFlyer Feb 5, 2013 07:33 AM

      Santarpio's is in my top five but I had to laugh when I went by a few weeks ago. While waiting for my friends to arrive a Domino's delivery pulled up literally across the street from Santarpio's. I actually saw the driver pull up and bring a pizza into the home. Not sure if the choice of Domino's was a comment on the pizza quality, or the deliveree's laziness.

      (Santarpio's is the light brown building at the end of the block on the right just before the green overpass. The Domino's delivery car is doubleparked on the left.)

       
      1. k
        Kebec1 Mar 15, 2012 09:06 AM

        Best, no question.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Kebec1
          b
          bakerboyz Mar 15, 2012 01:00 PM

          Maybe 10 years ago, just like this post. I haven't been to Max and Leo's yet in Newton Corner but I am dying to try their coal fired oven pizza, pretty much the only coal fired oven this side of New Haven and Brooklyn.

          1. re: Kebec1
            MC Slim JB Feb 5, 2013 09:09 AM

            Good, and fun, but not the best pizza in Boston anymore. Also, it's important not to load it up with more than a topping or two. I usually sit at the bar and get a plain pie, a BBQ combo, and some draft wine. It's a great way to kill an hour before picking up Mrs. MC at Logan. Always great conversations at that bar.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            1. re: MC Slim JB
              b
              Blumie Feb 5, 2013 09:48 AM

              I'm not sure that speaking in terms of "best pizza" necessarily is productive. Santarpio's offers a great product (yes, as with many pizza places, it sometimes suffers from lack of consistency, but most often they serve a great product). It's sufficiently different than Regina's and the other area options that I don't find the need to rank them. Sometimes I prefer Santarpio's style over the others, sometimes not! But I'm never disappointed to end up at Santarpio's.

              1. re: Blumie
                MC Slim JB Feb 8, 2013 07:30 AM

                This is a good point: I generally shun the term "best" in favor of "among my favorites", or some such. Obviously bestness is in the eye of the beholder. So, I should say, "I used to consider Santarpio's among the best pizzas in Boston, but not anymore. I still really enjoy the original location, regardless."

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              2. re: MC Slim JB
                g
                Gabatta Feb 5, 2013 10:11 AM

                Yes, always GREAT conversations at the bar. I was reminded of this last week while on a stop in on the way to an airport pickup. That, and the peer pressure to knock back a bottle or two of beer no matter what time of day.

                The pizza is fine, but I generally go for a double order of the lamb when I'm there. I enjoy the crusty bread with hot peppers they give you to start. There are other local pizza's I prefer to Santarpio's.

                1. re: MC Slim JB
                  h
                  Hasselhoff Feb 8, 2013 07:21 AM

                  Santarpios makes a fun pie and gives you a fun place to enjoy it. But Picco's on Tremont near the BCA makes what I consider to be the best pizzas in Boston--certainly Neapolitan-style.

              3. d
                David Pearlman Aug 8, 2002 01:27 PM

                Used to eat at Santarpio's a lotthen switched to the North End Regina's. Once you realize that Regina's basic deficiency is too little sauce, you can cure it just by asking for extra, and with the extra sauce I much prefer it to Santarpio's.

                As for pizza elsewhere, Pepe's in New Haven is for me a most wonderful place. Sally's is perhaps a hair behind, but both are divine. My favorite combo at Pepe's is the bacon, mushroom and onion with mozzarella and red sauce. The white clam is the best of its type. Pepe's pies are chock full of good olive oil and heavily salted. The crust, as with any really great pie, is worth eating all by itself.

                Grimaldi's under the Brooklyn Bridge and Totonno's out in Coney Island make a pie in a somewhat different style from Pepe's, Sally's Santarpio's and Regina's. The crust is lighter and thinner, and only fresh mozzarella is used. They are so light that I've seen people eat multiple pies at these places. A visit to one or the other is a must. Avoid the Totonno's in Manhattan.

                1. s
                  Steve Aug 7, 2002 10:03 AM

                  Has anyone tried the pizza at the Town Spa in Stoughton? The best around but not so easy to get to - almost 20 minutes off 93. Definately worth the trip!!!
                  (if you go, bring cash - no CC accepted)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Steve
                    k
                    Kathie Aug 7, 2002 11:06 AM

                    Been to Town Spa on several occasions when dtr was in college close by. Loved the pizza, but have read horrible reviews. I guess you either love it or hate it.

                  2. c
                    chilibug Aug 7, 2002 08:42 AM

                    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
                      9
                      9lives Aug 7, 2002 08:46 AM

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

                      1. re: chilibug
                        g
                        galleygirl Aug 7, 2002 09:34 AM

                        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
                          o
                          oystershucker Aug 7, 2002 10:14 AM

                          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
                            s
                            Salley Mar 12, 2003 08:06 AM

                            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!

                      2. c
                        C. Simon Aug 7, 2002 07:48 AM

                        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
                          9
                          9lives Aug 7, 2002 09:13 AM

                          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?"...you're right..apples and oranges..both great.

                          1. re: 9lives
                            g
                            galleygirl Aug 7, 2002 09:25 AM

                            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
                              c
                              C. Simon Aug 7, 2002 10:02 AM

                              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
                                m
                                MichaelB Aug 7, 2002 11:07 AM

                                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
                                  j
                                  Joe H. Aug 8, 2002 11:37 AM

                                  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.
                                    c
                                    C. Simon Aug 8, 2002 02:30 PM

                                    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. j
                              Joe H. Aug 6, 2002 09:57 PM

                              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.
                                9
                                9lives Aug 6, 2002 10:12 PM

                                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
                                  g
                                  galleygirl Aug 6, 2002 10:24 PM

                                  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!

                                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                  1. re: galleygirl
                                    f
                                    fladd Aug 7, 2002 07:39 AM

                                    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
                                      j
                                      Joe H. Aug 8, 2002 11:21 AM

                                      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
                                      l
                                      Limster Aug 6, 2002 11:07 PM

                                      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. g
                                    galleygirl Aug 6, 2002 08:38 PM

                                    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
                                      9
                                      9lives Aug 6, 2002 08:45 PM

                                      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
                                        c
                                        C. Fox Aug 6, 2002 10:06 PM

                                        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
                                          g
                                          galleygirl Aug 6, 2002 10:27 PM

                                          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
                                            c
                                            C. Fox Aug 7, 2002 01:23 PM

                                            "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?

                                            1. re: C. Fox
                                              f
                                              fladd Aug 8, 2002 08:26 AM

                                              I'm in!

                                          2. re: C. Fox
                                            9
                                            9lives Aug 6, 2002 10:37 PM

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

                                            1. re: C. Fox
                                              l
                                              Limster Aug 6, 2002 10:51 PM

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

                                              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                          3. 1
                                            1crispydude Aug 6, 2002 07:45 PM

                                            Used to live in Winthrop and worshipped the 'za at Santarpios. Can't beat the decor and atmosphere...so E. Boston...so unpretentiuos. MMMMMMMMMMMMMisss it!!!

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