Posted by Bella Travaglini July 13, 2010 12:25 PM
Santarpio’s Pizza of East Boston is set to open on Route 1 north in Peabody at the former Bennigan’s location at 71 Newbury St. at the jughandle turnaround, said Carla Santarpio. Remodeling is nearly complete and the family expects to fire up the ovens by Aug. 6 if not sooner, she said.
The restaurant still needs an occupancy permit, which will be issued after electrical, plumbing, health and fire department inspections, said Kevin Goggin, building commissioner.
“It is doable in that August time frame,” said Goggin. “We're just waiting on them.”
Expanding the 100-year-old brick-oven pizza and barbeque business to Peabody made sense for Santarpio and her two brothers and sister, who share ownership. They all live on the North Shore and are well aware of the demand.
“There are so many people from East Boston, Chelsea and Everett living here,” said Santarpio. “Coming to Peabody seems like a move in the right direction.”
Santarpio’s earlier this year paid $1.7 million for the Bennigan’s building during a foreclosure process and $150,000 for an all-alcohol license as part of the deal, said Santarpio.
The Peabody pizzeria will follow the East Boston model, serving just three menu items – pizza, lamb and sausage barbeque. Pizza is the only item available to go, said Santarpio.
Goggin has heard some buzz about the pizzeria coming to town, he said. He has seen the design for the fire pit where the barbequed food will be prepared and said it’s unique; something he has never seen before.
Santarpio's has been rated among the "best pizzas in town" in many publications, including Boston Magazine in 2009.
Santarpio credits the restaurant’s success to a simple formula – hand-cut meats, homemade sausage, sauce, dough and hard work. That formula for decades has had customers waiting down the block at the family’s Chelsea Street location in East Boston just outside the Sumner and Callahan tunnels and entrance to Logan Airport.
The Peabody space is double the size of the East Boston establishment, with up to 300 seats. Santarpio does not expect to reach capacity depending on how the new furniture fits in. Hiring will start soon of mostly part-time positions, which is usually how this type of business is staffed, said Santarpio.
Italian music will play from a vintage CD player with the family’s favorite songs and there will be TVs in the bar area for viewing.
Santarpio’s has never had to advertise, but the family recently bought a billboard on Route 93 featuring a photo of their dad Frank Santarpio who retired from the business 5 years ago.
“That billboard is for my father,” said Carla Santarpio. “We’re trying to make him famous.”