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Old School Boston?

Watching the "Disappearing Manhattan" episode of Tony Bourdain's show this weekend, which featured a bunch of places in NYC where they still do things in an old fashioned way, I was wondering where there might be similar places in the Boston area. You know -- places that have been around for generations, that haven't changed much, that might not be all that great but take you back to the 1940's or even the 1890's and give you a glimpse of history.

The obvious places on the list include Union Oyster House, Locke-Ober, Durgin Park. But I wanted to go beyond the obvious choices to some places that might be nearly forgotten, or tucked away in not-so-obvious neighborhoods. I'm sure there must be some quintessentially old-school Italian places in the North End and elsewhere (Caffe Vittoria notwithstanding). Kowloon's in Saugus comes to mind, but I was hoping for something closer into Boston proper.

So, where are some good (or not so good) Boston places that are still kicking it old school?

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  1. Well Sarge, here are a few but, I wouldn't waste my time with them. Anthony's Pier 4, No Name, Durgin Park. I would go to Regina's Pizza on Prince St in the NE, Santarpio's in Eastie, Jacob Wirths on Stuart St for german.

    1. In the theme of comeback, I'll add Cafe Marliave. .which is a great restoration of a Boston oldtimer, Ida's and Regina's in the NE.

      Charley's Sandwich in the SE. JJ Foley's

      Maybe Brandy Pete's in the Finacial District; though they relocated a few blocks 25 years ago.

      6 Replies
      1. re: 9lives

        I'm very disappointed in Marliave's restoration/preservation. That's not my definition of "old school" at all. In my opinion, there's no sense of the speak easy, old-world charm that a lot of people reference. Locke Ober is quintessential old-school Boston.

        1. re: skylark938

          I'm surprised to hear you say that.

          Cafe Marliave seems to be a good restoration of the restaurant that I went to in the early 70's..with better food;..and an oyster bar replacing the Littlest Bar.. much like Lydia Shire restored Locke Ober, 8 or so years ago while retaining the original decor.

          Speak easy, old world charm didn't characterize many of the old school restaurants mentioned here..to the contrary, Durgin Park, No Name, Jeveli's,Regina's, Santarpios, etc always had their own character..and charm wasn't a part of the picture.

          1. re: 9lives

            The Littlest Bar was not where the Marliave oyster bar is... it was next door in that new monstrous building that houses luxury condos (oh joy, more luxury condos. just in time!)

            1. re: purple bot

              Ms 9 agrees with you.

              I'll have to walk by tomorrow to refresh my memory..maybe stop in for some research..:)

              1. re: purple bot

                After some serious research that included 1/2 dozen oysters and a pastrami sandwich from Sam LaGrassa's, you and Ms. 9 are correct.

                Littlest Bar was a few steps away from the Marliave oyster bar.

                Research is tough work..:)

                1. re: 9lives

                  ...but someone has to do it! Thanks for taking one for the team. ;-)

        2. I think these fit the criteria: Santarpio's in East Boston, Parziale's Bakery in the North End and No Name Restaurant. I know you are looking for Boston proper, I think a shout out to Hilltop Steakhouse in Saugus and Kelly's Roasbeef on Revere Beach are in order too(!). Obviously the restaurants are not on the same level as a Locke-Ober, but definite old faithfuls.

          1. if you havent been to Locke-Ober, i think its a must. Its expensive and not the best restaurant in the city, but its like being in a part of history, and its a very nice room.

            1. second all here. i'd also add: amrhein's, doyle's, simco's, jeveli's, tecce's, brown jug, new bridge, s&s, umberto's, paddock, hacienda, mount vernon and kowloon.