When you step into Roy’s Cold Cuts and Pizzeria in East Boston it’s like stepping back in time.
For over three decades at the 198 Marion St. location very little has changed. The counters and deli slicer are in the same spot, the Beatles and other 1960s memorabilia that adorn the walls are the same and, of course, the subs are still as solid as they ever were.
“It’s like our own little Mayberry,” said owner Roy Antonuccio Jr., whose parents, Roy Sr. and Cecelia, started the sub shop down the street from the current location in 1960. “There’s a lot to see in here and our customers like to come in, take a look around, hang out and talk before they get their food.”
For 52 years, Roy’s has had a captive audience on Eagle Hill and serves up quality hot and cold subs, salads, appetizers and other specialty items like homemade stuffed peppers and fried ravioli. And although the neighborhood that was once predominately Italian has changed it hasn’t affected Roy’s one bit.
“People talk about new comers but I’m on my third generation of loyal customers that began coming here in the 1980s,” said Antonuccio. “It started to catch on among the immigrant community when kids started bringing their parents in here for candy and next thing you know the parents were coming in for subs.”
Antonuccio said now those customers that were once kids are coming in with their own kids to get the food that has made Roy’s a neighborhood institution.
“It’s always been a real neighborhood place and it continues to be that way,” said Antonuccio. “We have old friends that come back from as far as Saugus and Peabody but we’ve made a lot of new friends along the way. It’s nice to see people grow up on your food.”
And at Roy’s the food speaks for itself. From subs like the Mutant a combination of shaved steak, fried eggplant, cheese and a drizzle of gravy to the homemade meatball subs filled with perfectly seasoned cotton soft meatballs, marinara and melted provolone cheese, the food at Roy’s has always been consistently good.
“The recipes haven’t changed much since my parents ran the business,” said Antonuccio. “We’ve created some new and exciting subs so I guess we are always evolving.”
Many of the subs listed on Roy’s menu have been assigned whimsical names that is right in line with Antonuccio’s laid back jovial personality.
“The sub comes first and then we think of a name,” said Antonuccio. “Sometimes we came up with some comical ones.”
Like the ‘Which Came First?’–a chicken cutlet topped with an over easy egg and melted cheese or the ‘Angry Leprechaun’–a corned beef sandwich with melted jalepeno cheese and Dijon mustard.
Recently, Roy’s lore in the neighborhood caught the attention of the producers of the Phantom Gourmet.
“A couple of the producers came in unannounced and ordered a few subs,” said Antonuccio. “A day later they came and said they wanted to feature us on the Phantom Gourmet.”
Antonuccio said the crew stayed for three hours eating and filming Roy’s signature subs and Antonuccio’s extensive collection of Beatles and Rock and Roll memorabilia.
“They plan to feature or Royben (Roy’s take on the classic Rueben), the Godfather (a sub filled with prosciutto, chicken cutlet, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers and seasoning) and the Meatball Parm Deluxe,” said Antonuccio.