Santarpio’s: the jewel in the pizza crown

Santarpio's Pizza has been serving up pies at its Chelsea Street location in East Boston since 1933.

Santarpio’s Pizza has been serving up pies at its Chelsea Street location in East Boston since 1933. All photos by Steve Daly.

In the shadows of the Route 1A overpass leading to Logan International Airport lies the best pizza joint in America – not Boston, not New England, America.

Operating for more than 110 years, including the past 80 in its current location at 111 Chelsea St. in East Boston, Santarpio’s Pizza has fed generations of pizza aficionados the tastiest pie around. It never disappoints.

A Santarpio's pepperoni and garlic pizza.

A Santarpio’s pepperoni and garlic pizza.

“I’ve been going to Santarpio’s since the early 1970s,” said John Toto, a former East Boston resident who now regularly drives into the city from his home in Wayland, Massachusetts.  “There is nothing better than a garlic, pepperoni and cheese pizza.  I have yet to meet a person that says Santarpio’s is not the best pizza in Boston!”

The line to get into Santarpio's on a recent Saturday night.

The line was out the door at Santarpio’s on a recent Saturday night.

The condition of the signature New York-style crust can be a bit of a wild card – sometimes perfectly done, other times just a bit charred – but I’ve never been disappointed during my 30 years of patronage.

Santarpio’s serves just two other dishes beyond pizza: Italian sausage or lamb, cooked over an open flame at a grill shoehorned behind a tiny bar at the front of the restaurant. The barbecue dishes are served with a hot cherry pepper and Italian bread.

Don’t go to Santarpio’s expecting an intimate, quiet dining experience – you’ll be sadly disappointed. The place, located on the first floor of a triple-decker, is loud and festooned with boxing posters affixed to wood paneling. They have an odd collection of mismatched silverware – many years ago, my wife and I used utensils bearing the Eastern Airlines logo – and, until recently, the crushed red pepper flakes were shaken from baby food jars whose lids were probably punctured by a screwdriver.

But, ah, the pizza.

“Santarpio’s has an atmosphere that is a throwback to the 1960s and 70s, when Boston was more gritty and just neighborhood Italians only ate there,” Toto said. “Since I’m an Italian, that atmosphere is like an old comfy slipper.”

Santarpio’s, located about an eight-minute walk from the MBTA’s Blue Line Maverick Station, is always busy on weekend nights, especially Saturdays, when the line often stretches out the door. But, believe me, the wait is entirely worth it.

Santarpio’s is open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 12-11 p.m. on Sundays. For directions and more information, visit www.santarpiospizza.com.

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One thought on “Santarpio’s: the jewel in the pizza crown

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