The Word Is Now out: Santarpio’s Pizza Receives High Award for Its Pizza

Rocky Vitale in the kitchen working on getting the pizza out to hungry customers in the dining room.

Rocky Vitale in the kitchen working on getting the pizza out to
hungry customers in the dining room.

An online food magazine has told America what East Bostonians have known for decades—Santarpio’s Pizza has one of the best pies going in the U.S.

In the Daily Meal’s annual ‘101 Best Pizzas in America’ list that was released last week named Santarpio’s #29 on their best pizza list.

The Daily Meal named Santarpio’s Mozzarella, Sausage, and Garlic pie a must have.

“The local favorite has already seen its fair share of fame after winning the Best Traditional Pizza in New England award from Boston magazine seven times in the last 20 years, including last year,” read the article. “Santarpio’s, which opened in 1903, sticks to their traditional roots when it comes to their infamous slightly-chewy, and satisfyingly wet slices. Their menu consists of a variety of options, but also includes a list of customers’ favorite combinations, like a pie that pairs sausage with garlic, ground beef, and onions, and even “The Works”: mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, sausage, pepperoni, extra cheese, and anchovies. If you’re a first-timer, order Santarpio’s most popular pie: mozzarella, sausage, and garlic.”

To compile the list the Daily Meal said it turned to a panel of experts to narrow the list down to America’s 101 best.

“A formidable task, which is why we invited more panelists than last year, enlisting twice as many experts from across America. This panel included 46 American chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers, and pizza authorities,” they said.

Last year, Boston Magazine gave the Eastie landmark and its awesomely chewy, cheesy, sweet-sauced pizza the coveted ‘Best Pizza’ prize.

“We are honored to have been chosen by Daily Meal considering the amount of pizza places across the U.S.,” said Carla Santarpio. “We strive to provide our customers with the best product we can.”

For decades Santarpio’s, or ‘Tarps if you’re an Eastie resident, has gained the reputation of being an unpolished oasis that has refused to age with the time.

A status that Frank Santarpio says gives the popular pizzeria character and charm.

“When you first come here you’re either going to love it or you’re never coming back,” once said Frank.

However, on Friday and Saturday nights the line to get into Santarpio’s stretches around the block so Frank can be unapologetic about the ambiance.

The bill of fare has always been simple and since it was turned into a pizza place in 1966 there’s only been a few deviations from the main staples of pizza, grilled lamb or sausage and beer.

However, Santarpio’s has come a long way from an Italian bakery that opened in 1903 on the corner of Chelsea and Porter Streets.

“My grandfather, Francisco, came to America in 1900,” said Frank. “He bought a couple of buildings in Eastie, one was this building which he made into Santarpio’s Bakery in March 1903.”

In 1933, Frank’s father, Joseph, one of six children took over the establishment in 1933and revamped the building, turning the bakery into Santarpio’s Café, a popular bar among Eastie residents and sports fanatics.

Every once in a while patrons of Santarpio’s Café could expect a visit from one of their favorite boxers.

From Rocky Marciano to Jack Dempsey, legendary fighters would pop in for a cold beer and a quick photo opportunity throughout the late 40s and early 50s.

It was during this time the food started to catch on.

“My father used to make the tripe on Saturdays and they had the pizza and grill,” said Frank. “I guess it just sort of caught on from then.”

In 1966, the restaurant went through another facelift when Frank took over, ultimately bearing the name Santarpio’s Pizza.

“We put the sign up with the last $700 I had and that’s when it really caught on,” said Frank.

Along with the sign came a wave of success that hasn’t stopped.

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