Like many Bostonians, when the late Mayor Thomas Menino wanted something good to eat East Boston restaurants were at the top of his list.
Like many proud Italian Americans who grew up on the comfort food of their mothers and grandmothers, Mayor Menino craved the home cooked fare offered at many of Eastie’s more popular eateries.
There was perhaps no other place that Menino frequented than Meridian Market. Menino was a regular fixture on Saturdays at the small sandwich shop on Meridian Street between Central and Maverick Squares. He loved to dine on the offering put out by brothers Paul and Freddie Noviello.
His favorite go to dish and an Italian tradition on Saturday’s was Meridian’s tripe.
“I’m going to miss our Saturday lunches with the mayor,” said Paul Noviello. “He always came in with family, friends and East Boston officials on Saturday.”
It was here he could relax and take some time off from his busy schedule and talk with the Noviellos and chat with Eastie locals. Menino last visit to Meridian was three weeks before his passing where he met with City Councilor Sal LaMattina and Rep. Carlo Basile on a fall Saturday afternoon.
Another favorite of Menino’s was Santarpio’s Pizza, the famed pizzeria on Chelsea Street. Since his early days as a district city councilor in Hyde Park and throughout his tenure as mayor, Menino would stop in with friends, his grand kids and staff members.
He would always order a cheese pizza and was a fan of Santarpio’s famed BBQ Italian sausage. The staff there said he’d always bring a pizza home for his wife, Angela, or his kids.
Santarpio’s was also the location of Eastie’s annual Election Day luncheon, an event he never missed as Mayor.
“He has come in for many years loved the pizza,” said Carla Santarpio. “We will all miss is friendly smile. He really loved the staff here and loved him back.
When he wanted a more upscale Italian meal Menino, like many from across the country, headed to Rino’s on the corner of Saratoga and Putnam Streets. Here he’d have private meals with friends like former Senate President Robert Travaglini, City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Suffolk University Vice President of Governmental Affairs John Nucci and Senator Anthony Petruccelli.
“Boston lost one of our great leaders, but so many of us in East Boston lost much more than that; we lost a friend,” said Nucci of his time spent with Menino. “Eastie was always the place where the mayor would come to eat great food among people he considered not just constituents but also his friends. He’ll be missed enormously.”
He also gave his stamp of approval to other places like Italian Express in Sumner Street. Menino even made an appearance during the restaurants segment on the Food Networks Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Menino co-hosted the segment with the show’s host Guy Fieri and even took a ride around Eastie in Fieri’s trademark red Mustang.
“We want to thank Mayor Tom Menino for being such a great friend and supporter of Italian Express Pizzeria over the years,” said co-owner Jim Ianuzzi. “You are the “Real Deal” and we will always remember all that you did to help us.”
The restaurant even has a dish, “Rolled Eggplant Menino”, named after the famed Boston leader.
“He inspired us to be the best,” said Ianuzzi.
Mayor Thomas Menino is one of his favorite spots in Eastie, Santarpio’s Pizza.
Mayor Thomas Menino poses with Paul, Anna Noviello and their son Luigi. Menino was a Saturday regular at Meridian Mark owned by the Noviellos.
Jonathan Harker, Jim Ianuzzi, Mayor Thomas Menino and Food Network host of Diners Drive ins and Dives, Guy Fieri outside Italian Express, another Menino favorite.