The city of Lawrence has been a true melting pot over the years, with immigrants from Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands calling this old mill town their home starting with the first wave of European immigrants in the mid-1800s. Today, the community is mostly Hispanic and Latino, but parts of the city give hints as to who settled in which areas many years ago, including the neighborhood around Newbury Street and Common Street (on the eastern edge of the downtown area) which used to be heavily Italian. A few restaurants, bakeries, and food shops in this section reflect this, including the iconic Tripoli Bakery on Common Street, and Napoli Pizza & Subs, a decades-old eatery that sits across the street from Tripoli and is known in part--much like its neighbor--for its old-fashioned slices of bakery pizza, though the similarities tend to end there.
Unlike Tripoli. which has spacious digs (including a bakery), a prominent sign out front, and its own parking lot, Napoli has the look of a simple sub shop from the outside, with a bit of street parking along both Common Street out front and Newbury Street around the corner. There really isn't much to the interior other than a counter where customers order their food, a soda machine off to the left, and a few seats along the front and side windows. Unsurprisingly, Napoli does much of its business via takeout orders, with locals and nearby businesspeople picking up their orders to take home, back to the office, or perhaps to the sprawling Campagnone Common a block west of the shop when the weather is nice.
It would be easy to simply call Napoli's pizza slices Sicilian pizza, and it does indeed have elements of that style of pie, with its square shape, slightly sweet sauce, and light to moderate sprinkling of cheese. But much like that of Napoli across the street, the squares have a slightly thinner crust than other Sicilian pizzas in the Greater Boston area and elsewhere in the region, making them closer to what some call "grandma pie," though for most, it doesn't matter what they are called because the bottom line is, Napoli's pizza is absolutely delicious and compares favorably to that of its neighbor, which says a lot considering how revered Tripoli's pizza is. Napoli isn't just about pizza, as its meat pies and spinach pies are to some its signature food items, while calzones, thin-crust Italian-style pizzas, and a wide variety of subs and sandwiches are also offered. Prices are very reasonable here, with pizza squares being $1.50 each and most menu items being under $10.
Napoli is a humble family-run shop that gets almost zero press, perhaps because it resides in a rather gritty community that isn't seen as a destination spot for food even though there are countless dining spots worth trying in the city (including many interesting Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean eateries). And yes, the place may be overshadowed by Tripoli as well, as more than a few who go to that shop have never even ventured across the street to do a comparison test of pizzas. But for pizza lovers--and lovers of Italian food in general--this little section of Lawrence is a must for its old-school food shops and bakeries, and Napoli should certainly be included among the places to try here.
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