Half-century on, Angelina’s continues serving up decent Italian fare

The menu at Angelina's features all the Italian classics, from calzones to spaghetti. Sarah R via Flickr Creative Commons

The test of time wears down almost all those who try to stand up to it, and restaurants are no exception to this rule.  Having staying power is something of an anomaly in the food service world, so when a place finds that special sauce capable of withstanding time’s stresses, it better lock down the recipe.

Angelina’s Pizzeria, just off of Teele Square on Holland Street, certainly has its own special sauce. “Serving authentic Italian cuisine since the 1950s,” Angelina’s also claims to be the “home of the Jumbo,” according to its website. And, indeed, the three-foot long Jumbo sub is a rather fitting homage to the Tufts mascot. At Angelina’s, which serves all the Italian pizzeria-cum-sub shop classics, the size scale for menu items runs from small and regular to half Jumbo and Jumbo.

This reviewer has never attempted to take on a whole jumbo before; however, a half Jumbo is more than sufficient for even the most ambitious diners — frankly, this sandwich is probably enough to last most people at least two meals. Any pretenses of eating more than a half Jumbo evaporate after just a few bites of whatever is inside. The Italian cooking at Angelina’s isn’t just authentic, it’s hearty. And at just ten dollars, a half jumbo at Angelina’s is among both the most filling and most affordable off-campus eats.

The menu is stacked with classics like chicken parmesan as well as subs, Italian sausage and lasagna. The veal parmesan sub, in which the veal cutlets are tastefully dipped in the marinara sauce rather than doused in it, consists of several small cutlets, perfectly fried just before going onto the bread and cheese.

The buffalo chicken sub, however, leaves a little more to be desired. All the blue cheese dressing piles up at one end of the sandwich, and some of the chicken lacks buffalo sauce. Both sandwiches would benefi from better bread, but, on the whole, they are still decent and definitely worth the money.

There are also steak subs on offer. The ingredients here are practically identical to those of their cousin the Philly cheesesteak, yet the subs lack the je ne sais quoi that separates the latter from sandwiches of lesser esteem. The main ingredient missing is the Cheez Whiz. No cheesesteak is quite complete without it. Still, the steak subs at Angelina’s can scratch the itch for a cheesesteak — at least enough to satisfy a cheesesteak craving.

Angelina’s mozzarella sticks are slightly above average. They are lightly breaded, fried and crunchy on the outside while gooey and cheesy on the inside — just as they should be. The crust on the outside has some extra seasoning in it that distinguishes Angelina’s mozzarella sticks from generic offerings, but these are definitely not transcendently good.

A slough of pizzas, calzones, pastas, salads and other miscellaneous sub shop grub is available at this unassuming Italian eatery. All of it is perfectly satisfactory and good enough to get you to order from there again. One of the place’s greatest draws, however, is what it offers to those who dine in and take out. The ambience is typical of a pizza shop, with a no frills set up inside. It is the people behind the counter, however, that make this place worth visiting. These guys genuinely seem to be having fun as they put orders together, sassing customers and each other. What it lacks in wit, the banter makes up for in attitude.

Although relatively unknown in the Tufts community, Angelina’s clearly is willing to cultivate a relationship with its collegiate neighbor. It offers perfectly decent Italian fare at prices that should make students very happy. And, with more than half a century already under its belt, Angelina’s seems like it will continue to be there, just off campus, for a long time to come.


3 stars