The true test of a good restaurant is when the children of
grandparents and parents continue a tradition of eating at that given
restaurant through the generations.
The landmark Prince Pizzeria in Saugus, MA, is one of those rare places that has touched past and present generations with equal affection. There may be critics out there who unfairly expect Prince to be something that it isn't, but the thousands of "real world" people who have frequented Prince know it as a happy, positive and tasty dining experience. Who could ask for anything more, unless it's overpriced, self-promoted gourmet food with an attitude that you want?
The real world has been going to Prince since 1961, loving the fresh pizza with ample toppings and the pasta with the perfect red sauce. -- all at fair prices. The real world has seen lots of fads, trends and other cultural woes come and go, but places like the Prince remain timeless and durable, thanks to a passionate quest for quality food and service with a commitment to excellence. In effect, going to the Prince is like taking a trip back in time. Good products may expand --as the Prince has done through more seating and an attached comedy club -- but there's no real need to change the format when you're this great. So, while the Prince has turned into the largest family-owned pizzeria in America, there has been absolutely no drop in quality. It's as good as ever!
And although we read in the news and see in the neighborhood that families don't eat together anymore, you would never know it from the gatherings within the colorful, festive dining rooms at Prince. It's easy for a moment to forget that it's the 21st Century, as a scan across the dining rooms look like a scene out of the 1960s -- the times when we fondly remember, as children, the Prince. The collectibles and memorabilia on the walls -- as ample as the toppings on Prince pizza -- have stayed intact through the generations, thus lending further assuredness that the memories of yesterday can be lovingly revisited at the Prince Restaurant. It's quite a comforting feeling.
Now our children experience the same feelings we had:
* The "leaning tower of pizza" structure gracing the exterior
* The thrill of ordering at the counter and hearing your name called when the food is ready
* The even greater thrill of having a nice waiter or waitress put the food on the table
* The ultimate thrill of eating some of the best pizza and pasta in the region (as well as great salads) over family conversations. Regarding pizza, we liked the "real" pepperoni pizza loaded with that topping, and the "Margarita," a unique, tangy blend of cheese and tomato (that you can still request today).
For us parents we appreciate the moderate prices, in addition to all of the above!
What puts Prince Pizzeria in the hall of fame dining category, however, is the personal touch. As children, we saw owner Arthur Castraberti (so sad he recently passed away; we miss you so much, Arthur!) race around the restaurant offering a personal "hello," a kind word or two, and a terrific memory. He actually remembered his customers by name, a remarkable feat considering the thousands that frequented his restaurant. We also saw Arthur work as hard as his staff, doing whatever it took to make his customers happy and restaurant run properly. He took orders from customers, gave orders like a kind father to his staff, and ultimately made things run orderly. Arthur retired years ago, but his family has managed the restaurant in the finest, personal-touch tradition of their father. Like Arthur, they treat their customers and hired help very well. Everyone working at the Prince seems to enjoy their line of work.
There's something truly wonderful about witnessing remnants of old-fashioned America -- like the family togetherness and conversation that is alive and well at a non-chain business like Prince. Its recipe for success is not only found in the great pizza and pasta, but also in showing a true appreciation for its most important element -- the hard-working customers looking for excellent food and value for the money. After all, that's what people in the real world have been looking for through the generations.
Prince Pizzeria & Giggles Comedy Club, 517 Broadway, Saugus, MA. Tel. (781) 233-9950
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