I don’t get it. Santarpio’s Pizza has been rated as a Best of Boston in Boston Magazine in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008. I guess I have to chalk it up to ‘different strokes for different folks.’ I just don’t think it’s that good.
The pies are sloppily made with ingredients of mediocre quality, inconsistently baked and the crust has the texture of a burnt water cracker. To top it off you will likely have to wait in line (outside) and once seated you get a free side order of attitude from the staff.
In all fairness I am in the minority. Santarpio’s has a devoted following and gets tons of positive reviews on several online sites. I will not attempt to convert the devoted but I will list my reasons for giving it a big thumbs down.
- The pizza: Like I said, they’re made with the care and attention of a truant to his homework. My biggest complaint is they keep their pies, more often than not, in the oven too long. The result is significant burnt spots on top – carbonized cheese, yum – and on then bottom. Inconsistency reigns here. The crust is dry and flavorless. Clearly many like it this way. I don’t.
- The pie selection: The pies come in only one size. There are only nine toppings available – or 11 if you count cheese and extra cheese as optional. Peppers and hot peppers are two of the nine and another is anchovies, which for most means that they only have eight toppings. If you want something green on your pie you’ve come to the wrong place.
- The barbecue: The fact they have the gall to call this barbecue is an abomination to pit masters everywhere. They offer ‘choice lamb’ and ‘homemade sausage.’ But let’s be clear, this ain’t barbecue, it’s simply grilled meat. Barbecue means ‘low and slow.’ The meat suffers the same fate as the pizza. Inconsistently prepared and quickly cooked to a blackened crisp. The lamb is cut into chunks, skewered and grilled. If they took the time to cut the lamb into similarly sized chunks they could cook it more evenly. Instead you’ll find one piece as flat, dry and charred as jerky next to a plumb cube that’s (thankfully) medium rare. And they will not ask how you want it. It comes their way, not yours. The sausage is reasonably good but not a stand alone reason to come here.
- The setting: Outside - Nestled next to Route 1A’s flyover to the airport, Santarpio's is not that easy to find, much less find a parking spot. One gets the impression that valuables should not be left in the car. At least you’ll be able to keep an eye on your car as you wait outside. Inside - I’m sure the fans come here because of the kitschy throwback interior. But it’s a fine line between kitschy and grimy. How the proprietor cajoled so many celebrities to adorn his walls is beyond me. Rachel Ray is excluded from this comment because she wouldn’t know good food if she was force fed.
- The attitude: Service here is as inconsistent as the food, but with less variety. It bounds between disinterested to “Whadya lookin’ at?” You’ll either feel like an annoyance to your waiter or that you’ve been served by someone who was to surly to work at Durgin-Park.
So let the fans line up. And if I’m missing something it won’t be Santarpio’s.
For more information:
111 Chelsea Street
Boston, MA 02128-1937