from today's Boston Globe...http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/12/05/a_slice_of_life_dies/
A slice of life dies
By Brian McGrory, Globe Columnist | December 5, 2006
It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, the city empty and a little bit cranky, when Lee DiMascio and Angelo Palermo looked at each other and knew that the end had finally arrived.
They quietly wiped down the counters and tables one last time. They turned off the massive ovens that had fed however many millions of customers. They flicked the lock on the front door.
Then the two of them slipped out the back, paused, and stared at the business they had built, stared until they couldn't see for the moisture that had welled up in their old, tired eyes.
"We sat there for about five minutes in the parking lot," DiMascio recalled yesterday, laughing softly at the thought. "It was quite emotional."
And just like that, Newbury Pizza, one of those quiet institutions that make a city what it is, was gone.
To most people, the vast majority of people, the shuttering of a pizza shop isn't all that big a deal. A business, they'll say, is nothing more than one person's way to make a buck.
They're wrong. A business is someone's dream. A business is a series of arduous decisions. A business is a litany of sacrifices, of overcome obstacles, of individuality in an increasingly homogeneous world.
Newbury Pizza, understated as it might have been, was all that and more. It was a rickety institution on what is unarguably the most fashionable avenue in Boston. It was a privately owned restaurant in a sea of franchise stores. It was a place for customers to get a $2 slice while they shopped for $2,000 coats.
It might have been the one remaining place on Newbury Street that was nothing like anywhere else. Where else could a diner go to watch a Red Sox game on a television so blurry that it was nearly impossible to read the score?
When Palermo bought Newbury Pizza from his brother in the late 1960s, Back Bay was a bit of a wreck, filled with boarding houses and tired old apartment buildings. Over the years, Newbury Pizza was surrounded by pricey art galleries, exclusive boutiques, and restaurants that serve $8 bottles of water. In the last few years, two designer pizzerias moved onto the block. Still, Newbury held its own, because, in Palmero's words, "my product spoke for itself."
They tossed fresh dough every day with King Arthur Flour. They mixed their own pizza sauce, neither too spicy nor too sweet. They made steak subs with black Angus beef. They bought fresh sausage and pepperoni from the most reputable dealers around. A large cheese pizza, straightforward and old-fashioned, sold for $11.
When the Armani store down the street had an event for workers, they would send out to Newbury Pizza. So would Morton's steakhouse.
"Harrison Ford came in a few times," said DiMascio, 62, the manager for the past 25 years. "We had a couple of country western singers. Nomar Garciaparra came in. We had a number of Bruins and Red Sox players there."
More important, they also had a collection of neighbors, delivery drivers, art gallery owners, and sales clerks who showed up just about every day for lunch. They would order from the counter and take a seat with whoever else happened to be in the place.
"It was my Cheers," said Jon Alpert, one of the most devout regulars. "A few days before Thanksgiving, I was walking out, and Angelo said, 'Hey, did you know we sold the place?' It was surreal. I go there on autopilot. Now, at lunchtime, I get panicked."
Palermo is about to turn 60 years old, and his children showed no interest in taking over, so he agreed to let it go to a nice young couple in the type of handshake deal that doesn't really happen anymore. It will reopen, renovated, as Bostone Pizza in January.
"We just got a little tired at the end," Palermo said.
There probably won't be two people like Palermo and DiMascio on Newbury Street ever again.
Boston is changing, not always for the better.
Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]