An online food magazine has once again told America what East Bostonians have known for decades—Santarpio’s Pizza has one of the best pizzas in the U.S.
In the Daily Meal’s annual ‘101 Best Pizzas in America’ list that was released last week, Santarpio’s was named #7 on their best pizza list up 24 spots from its ranking of #31 on the list back in 2017.
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.
“If you’re looking for pizza in this major sports city, it’s gotta be Santarpio’s,” wrote the Daily Mail. “This cash-only Boston restaurant has no shortage of options on the menu, down to even shrimp scampi pizza, but its top-selling slice is classic pepperoni. “We do our very best to please our customers,” an employee told The Daily Meal over the phone.”
The Eastie landmark and its awesomely chewy, cheesy, sweet-sauced pizza has received the coveted ‘Best Pizza’ prize numerous times by Boston Magazine over the years. Barstool Sports recently brought New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman to Santarpio’s to rate the pizza. Edelman gave the pizza a solid rating.
“Delicious slices and pies are being cooked up all across America, so this ranking takes special care to highlight pizzerias from all parts of the country, as well as female- and Black-owned businesses,” wrote Daily Meal. “While America does love its pizza chains, this list is focused on smaller establishments and local favorites that have found success branching out to a few locations. To find them, we used internal expertise, scoured Yelp and other review sites, looked at coverage by local journalists and gathered suggestions from readers.”
Owner and Santarpio Family patriarch, Frank Santarpio, said, “Whether we are #7 or #107 our only goal at Santarpio’s Pizza is to please each and every customer that walks through our doors”
For decades Santarpio’s, or ‘Tarp’s’ 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,” 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, Santarpio’s father, Joseph, one of six children took over the establishment, and 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,” he said.
Along with the sign came a wave of success that hasn’t stopped for decades.