111 Chelsea St.
By Matt Norris
Santarpio’s is a slice of blue collar Boston at its most sincere.
Gruff, no-nonsense waitresses.
Tattooed patrons in wife-beaters.
Cooks barking orders in an unvarnished Boston accent.
I’d heard that Santarpio’s served the best pizza in Boston, which I must admit, had me a bit skeptical. I mean, Italians run this city.
Some of the greatest Italian restaurants outside of Sicily can be found in Boston’s famed North End.
And the more refined palette of the overly-educated in this city demands all sorts of high-end cuisines—pizza being no exception.
So am I really to believe that the best pizza in the entire Boston Metro area is served here at this dive bar found in a neighborhood where the language is more likely to be Spanish than Italian or English
As soon as I stepped into the dark interior of Santarpio’s, it was like I was transported into another time and place.
The sweet smell of charcoal and meat sizzling on the grill greeted me like an old friend.
Right next to the front door an old guy was turning Italian sausages and kabobs over an open-flame.
Immediately recognizing me as one of those adventurous travelers looking for Boston’s best pizza, the man greeted me and kindly invited me to find a seat at the bar.
The decidedly less friendly—but efficient—waitress slid me a Miller High Life while I perused the menu.
There wasn’t much to it. Barbeque and pizza.
Of course by barbeque, they don’t mean Carolina pulled pork.
Barbeque at Santarpio’s is meat barbequed over that charcoal grill by the front door—that smelled too delicious to pass up, so I ordered a link of sausage as an appetizer.
The perfectly char-grilled tube of meat came with some sinus clearing hot peppers and a big hunk of Italian bread.
Thick, peppery, and soulful, the kiss from the flame made this one of the best sausages a self-proclaimed sausage connoisseur like myself ever tasted.
Unfortunately, the pizza only comes in one size – large. And I just ate a quarter pound of grilled meat.
But there was no way I could come to Santarpio’s without trying the famous pizza— it’s why I came!
My garlic, sausage, and peppers pizza smelled like heaven.
The crust was charred brown by the oven with bubbly pockets all around the crust. My pie was perfectly crispy on the bottom and chewy throughout.
The garlic, oregano, and peppers packed a massive flavor wallop. So much so that the sausage seemed to disappear. Literally.
Buried under the cheese, garlic, and peppers, it was hard to tell if there was even any sausage there.
Being a meat-in-every-bite kinda guy, I was a little disappointed.
My other quibble was how challenging this pizza was to actually eat.
Floppy and messy, this is the kind of pizza you have use a knife and fork until you get closer to the crust.
It’s kind of a bummer. Somehow pizza just doesn’t taste as good when you can’t bring the whole slice to your face, as God intended.
But overall, this is darn good pizza.
Apparently lots of people agree.
Within minutes of bellying up to the near empty bar, Santarpio’s began to fill up shoulder-to-shoulder with regulars sporting thick Boston accents.
One old guy in a white tank-top sat down next to me with his significant other.
Clearly, he was a regular. Clearly, she was a first-timer.
“I’ll take uh cranberry vwodka” she said.
The waitress shot back, “We don’t have no cranberry juice—or any juice fuh that mattah.”
“K, I’ll take uh screwdrivah.”
“Did ya heah me? No juice!”
When the waitress hurried away to take care of more decisive patrons, the wife beater guy scolded her. “I told ya don’t piss hah off!”
Little miss prissy let out an audible sigh, “Fine. Just get me a watah then.”
The waitress was much friendlier to me.
Glancing at my half-eaten pizza, she asked, “You wanna box for that, hun?”
“No thank you. Just take it away,” I couldn’t take another bite. “Where I’m going, I can’t take it with me.”
It was a damn shame too.
Next time I’ll bring some help along so none of that pizza goes to waste.
In conclusion, does Santarpio’s really serve the best pizza in Boston?
Not that I’ve tried every pizza in The Hub, but I doubt it.
Still, Santarpio’s is worth the stop for good pizza, the best “barbequed” meat in the city, and a slice of Boston authenticity you sure won’t find on Beacon Hill.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt