More than a few people in the Boston area know Tommy Floramo's famous slogan "Where the meat falls off the bone" from radio ads, but really, how many have actually been to this old-school restaurant in Chelsea, and how many even know where it is? Indeed, a not-uncommon response to the name Floramo's these days is, "Oh, is that place still around?" Well, yes, it is still around, and it continues to serve good food cheap, including steak tips that may even outdo a nearby spot that is often seen as the reigning champ for tips (more on this in a bit).
Tommy Floramo's is located on the eastern edge of a vast industrial section of Chelsea that extends a couple of miles west to Route 99 in Everett. Although the restaurant is only about 100 yards west of Route 1 (as the crow flies) and maybe a quarter mile south of the Revere Beach Parkway, it is very easy to miss because of its rather obscure location, and if you don't know the area and take a wrong turn, you might end up seeing a few scrap metal shops and perhaps a restaurant supply place or two before turning the car in the right direction. Once you find Floramo's, you'll see a classic old-fashioned family restaurant that is broken up into two main areas: A quiet and comfortable dining room to the left that mainly consists of high-back booths, and a lounge area to the right that also has plenty of seating for diners (and can be a bit louder, depending on when you go). The bar in the lounge section tends to be populated with locals playing Keno and watching games on TV.
The food at Floramo's ranges from pub grub to Italian to classic American to BBQ, with something for nearly everyone on the menu. A few highlights include a Mediterranean calamari plate with hot peppers and olives; a messy but delicious mix of sauteed artichoke hearts and melted mozzarella; Italian panini overloaded with cold cuts and cheese; a meatball sub that comes with some truly outstanding house-made meatballs; baby back ribs where, yes, the meat is so tender that it does fall off the bone; an old-fashioned eggplant and chicken plate with linguine and plenty of red sauce; and for dessert, a tiramisu with a heaping helping of whipped cream on top and a truly decadent spumoni dish with chocolate-coated pistachio ice cream (bomba), chocolate and claret sauces, and whipped cream with a cherry on top. And oh yes, then there are the steak tips; extremely tender, moist, slightly charred, and marinated perfectly, the tips at Floramo's may just beat out those of the New Bridge Cafe up the street, which may come as a shock to some, but that shows just how good they are here. (It may be worth doing a taste test at both to compare, as you really can't go wrong with either.) Prices are very reasonable for most items at Floramo's, and service is typically efficient and sometimes entertaining, depending on which server you get.
While many are familiar with the name Tommy Floramo's, it does not appear that all that many have actually been to this old-fashioned family restaurant--especially those who live west or south of Boston. And sure, while it is anything but a hidden spot to those who live in or near Chelsea, it is a gem of a place that should not be missed, especially if you like these types of unpretentious working-class dining establishments that seem to be tougher and tougher to find as the years go by.
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