Anyone who has attended college in the Pioneer Valley knows that Antonio’s Pizza is a force to be reckoned with. Antonio’s opened their first venue in Amherst, MA with the intention of being more than just a standard local pizzeria. Since then, the franchise has expanded and opened new locations in Providence, East Hampton, Texas and Illinois. College students and locals alike flock to Antonio’s for unique, extravagant pizza-by-the-slice flavors, ranging from standard cheese to Chicken Tortellini and Avocado Quesadilla. On any given night in the fall or the spring, Amherst students can expect to hear a late night declaration from one of their friends that they are going to Antonio’s, and some legendary students are rumored to have eaten as many as four Antonio’s slices in one sitting. Recently, Antonio’s published on its Facebook page that it will be opening new locations in Worcester, Lowell and Boston. After hearing the news of Antonio’s recent expansions to Massachusetts’s urban scene, The Student headed over to the place where it all started to talk to some Antonio’s employees and get the inside scoop.
No matter what the time of day is, there always seems to be a line of hungry customers at Antonio’s, but the speedy employees efficiently power through order after order and people pour out of the shop lugging small pizza boxes that hold their precious selections. Even after years of success, the original Antonio’s maintains a modest interior and an authentic no-frills pizzeria vibe. There is always an abundance of extravagant slices, and Antonio’s regulars toss out abbreviations of their favorite slices with a sense of familiarity. Even during late lunch hours on a Monday afternoon, long-time employee Jay Carrera was happy take a quick break and talk about the shop’s history.
The first Antonio’s opened its doors in Amherst in 1981, when the former owner of Bruno’s Pizza decided to open a new venue.
“So Bruno sold that place, and sold it along with the name so that he could open this place, which he couldn’t call Bruno’s, so he named it Antonio’s after his father,” said Carrera. “Steven Walter bought this store in 1997 and they expanded to Providence in 2001, and in 2004 they expanded to Texas and Illinois.”
Currently, the franchise holds stores in Providence, RI on Thayer Street near Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design; in Easthampton, MA, in College Station; TX, near Texas A&M and at the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL. Though expansion plans are moving quickly forward, a concrete neighborhood and location for the Boston shop has not been announced yet.
“Worcester first, and we’re still looking in Boston, exploring locations right now,” Jay confirmed.
In articles on both Boston.com and The Boston Globe, Boston residents have expressed immense excitement over a local Pioneer Valley favorite making its way to the city. One Boston resident claimed, “You’ve made my year!” while another said, “The day you open in Boston will probably be the greatest day of my life.”
Something about Antonio’s Pizza holds a strong sense of nostalgia and comfort for anyone who has gone to school near the establishment. Antonio’s is unique, featuring inventive flavors and hours that favor a college student’s schedule. The shop’s most popular flavors include Chicken Bacon Ranch, Tomato Basil and Avocado Quesadilla.
When asked if they have had any funny or strange experiences during their time at work, most Antonio’s employees do not even know where to begin. Amherst is a town full of eccentric people, and with hours that extend into the early morning and pizza discounts timed to coincide with Five College bar hopping nights, Antonio’s is a place that definitely sees some interesting late-night action.
“We do dollar slices of cheese from midnight to 2 a.m. on Friday nights … we are talking about 10 years of funny stories to think about,” Jay answered, laughing and rolling his eyes.
“One of my most recent strange experiences happened two weeks ago when a lady was in here … she was kind of standing over here blocking the line, so we said to her, ‘Miss, you can’t stand there, you’re blocking the line.’ So she threw a slice of pizza at us! I’ve been working here for ten years and nobody has ever thrown a slice of pizza at me!”
Hopefully, she didn’t throw a dressing-covered slice of Chicken Bacon Ranch at him, which seems like it would be much more detrimental than a slice of cheese or pepperoni.
Carrera concluded lightheartedly, “I have had some pretty weird things happen to me since I started working here, but that was at like 12:30 at night, so I guess it’s somewhat understandable.”
Antonio’s will announce its Boston location as soon as it has chosen a neighborhood and venue.