111 Chelsea St, East Boston; (617) 567-9871 After battling your way through the Callahan Tunnel (unless you already live on the other side), you basically can’t get into East Boston without encountering Santarpio’s, its huge old building looming majestically to the right of the toll plaza. Low on atmosphere and heavy on smoke, this place attracts regulars who recognize great pizza when they taste it.
Rather than burying their pies in cheese, as so many pizzerias do, Santarpio’s focuses on a zesty tomato sauce, and combines it with a crisp yet doughy crust to make pizza the way it oughtta be made. The one-size-serves-all 14-incher is just $5.50 plain and as low as $7 for two toppings. Great here, and great at home the next day, too.
The restaurant is also popular for its barbecue skewers, cooked up in Lefty’s Field in the bar area just inside the front door. This accounts for the place’s smoky appeal. Single skewers are $2.25 for pork sausage and $3.25 for lamb; a sizable combo is $5.50, all served with a hefty cherry pepper and some fine Italian bread.