When it comes to food and your enjoyment of it, hype is your enemy. It’s usually impossible for a single bite of anything to live up to its reputation.
With respect to Santarp’s in East Boston - one of two iconic Boston pizza joints - you might be initially disappointed when you take that first bite and find that fairies don’t immediately start dancing in your mouth. But here’s the thing: about ten minutes later, you’ll look down and see that, whoops, you ate that entire pizza by yourself, even though you promised you’d bring some back to your significant other, and now there’s going to be some tense, doing-the-the-dishes-in-silence moments back home tonight. This is the best pizza in Boston.
The crust is perfect (thin, but not bordering on flatbread). The whole pie is coated in cornmeal. And the toppings are baked underneath the sauce and cheese, making each bite a really well-balanced mix of everything. It’s close to perfect, and a great reason to spend some time in a place that looks like a dated VFW Hall and is filled with people complaining about a pitching change Don Zimmer made in 1978.
And while it’s a federal offense to come here and not get pizza, we also have to give a shoutout to some really good sausage and barbecue dishes cooked right on the coal barbecue pit by the door. If the only reason you ever come to Eastie is to go the airport, fix that and go to Santarpio’s.
The toppings are all straight-forward here - peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. That’s fine, because you wouldn’t want anything distracting you from what is essentially a perfectly balanced pie with a crispy cornmeal crust. One other thing to note: we highly recommend eating in the actual restaurant itself. If you get the pizza to-go, it has a tendency to get a little too goopy, but it’s perfectly crisp at the bar.
Other than pizza, the only other thing on the menu is a small selection of barbecued skewers and sausages. Nobody is coming here for these, but they’re actually really good, and cooked directly over charcoal on a grill pit right next to the door. The sausage is outstanding, but you can also get that right on a pizza, so consider going with the steak tips instead.