Santarpio’s featured on Food Network show

July 14, 2010
By

The rivalry continues and East Bostonians maybe a little down today after watching the television show, “Food Feuds.”

On Monday, during the final taping of the Food Network’s new show ‘Food Feuds’ the network, albeit wrongly, named Pizzeria Regina, that chain that started in the North End and grew to 15 restaurants comprised of 13 fast-service, high-volume pizzerias under the Regina name, best pizza in Boston.

If the Food Network wanted to unfairly square off chain restaurants perhaps we could have put our native son Papa Gino’s, which started here in the 1960s, against Regina. Then at least they would have started with a level playing field.

But the Food Network wanted to compare apples and oranges or fast-food pizza to an authentic Italian pie.

The Food Network said it judged each pizzeria’s offering under three categories; crust, sauce, cheese. Regina won for crust. Santarpio’s won for sauce and there was a tie on the cheese. The final decision came from the show’s host Michael Symon who named the touristy Regina’s the winner of the Food Feud.

However, I have a beef with the judging and other factors should have been considered which would have favored ‘Tarps (as it’s known locally).

First Santarpio’s opened in 1903, 23 years before the first Regina set up shop in the North End. Tarps still uses paper bags for take out, a nod to a time when Italian-Americans would bring the pizzas to work at the turn of the century and then heat them up on the engines of construction equipment.

Santarpio’s has been family owned and operated for 107 years at the corner of Chelsea and Porter Streets while Regina’s has become a corporation with Italian ‘theme like’ restaurants complete with memorabilia and photographs depicting 1940s and 1950s scenes in Boston’s North End and large tables to encourage family-style dining.

Santarpio’s does not need to create a carnival atmosphere inside the famed pizzeria because the pictures on the walls here are of the family and the restaurant during the 1940s and 1950s–like the one of Frank Santarpio with Jack Dempsey on the back wall. Here we don’t have to ‘encourage’ family-style dining it just sort of happens naturally in Eastie. Authenticity goes a long way with this writer and should have factored into Symon’s decision.

Lastly, and I know I’m bias but the pizza at Santarpio’s is what I’ve grown up on so for me its the best pizza around no question (had a roni onion just last night and it was delicious). There’s something about the crust’s airy center and crispy outside, the sweet sauce and special blend of cheeses that compliments any topping at Santarpio’s.

For me there’s no discussion.

But there will always be the rivalry, the heated discussions on the streets of Eastie and the North End that will never end and local magazines and food shows diplomatically naming Santarpio’s best pizza one year the Regina the next.

But while Regina’s Vice President of Operations, Anthony Buccieri (yes Regina’s has a Vice President of Operations while Santarpio’s has an owner, Frank) may have took the trophy Monday we in Eastie know where the best pizza around is.

Buccieri can keep his trophy, we’ll take a sausage and lamb combo and a cheese pizza and be happy.

In the end I guess it comes down the preference and the host was, after all, a Boston tourist and Boston tourists go to Regina when they are downtown.

So if you want to go over to the North End, sit with a bunch of overheating tourists from Wisconsin that spent the afternoon on the Freedom Trail and a Duck Tour and dine on some chain food pizza be our guest.

I along with thousands of others have been raised on the unquestionably best pizza in Boston that have been coming out of the ovens at Santarpio’s Pizza. We can take comfort in the fact that the pendulum will soon swing back to our neighborhood and the pizzeria that has made it famous.

So if you want the real thing come to Santarpio’s.

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