Leone’s, for 60 years, melts its love for customers in cheese

On August 17, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Leone’s Sub and Pizza is a much beloved culinary institution not only in Somerville, but from coast to coast, and beyond.

Leone’s Sub and Pizza is a much beloved culinary institution not only in Somerville, but from coast to coast, and beyond.

By Douglas Yu

It’s probably more appropriate than flattery to call Leone’s Sub and Pizza in Somerville a landmark in the neighborhood: Its everlasting quality of meatballs; signature Sicilian-styled square pizzas that were once delivered to Chris Evans live on ABC News; owners and staff who are never shy of sharing fun conversations with their customers; and most importantly, a restaurant where serving the community means more than serving their food.

Nick Ruccolo, a partner at Leone’s, is constantly to be found greeting customers, talking about things that are only heard between intimate friends. Not surprisingly, Leone’s never lacks customers who have been around for decades.

“Leone’s was started in 1954 by my brother-in-law’s parents. They took on an adventure and decided to try it out. 60 years later, we are still here,” Ruccolo said. “We haven’t changed anything in 60 years.”

Thirty-five years ago, Leone’s first started their square pizzas, which later on became a signature item at the store. In 1978, the 22-year-old Ruccolo joined Leone’s after he finished college with a degree in Business.

During his time at Leone’s, he received positive comments from the community and old customers who moved away from Somerville.

Loyal patrons come from far and near to partake in the restaurant’s epicurean delights, including one man (pictured here in the background) who comes all the way from the Cape. ~Photo by Claudia Ferro

Loyal patrons come from far and near to partake in the restaurant’s epicurean delights, including one man (pictured here in the background) who comes all the way from the Cape. — Photo by Claudia Ferro

“We send food to as far as Hawaii, Florida and California,” Ruccolo said. “We sent our food to Arizona once when the Super Bowl was celebrated there.”

Among all the items that are served at Leone’s, the meatballs are one of the most popular foods here, according to Ruccolo. “I sent meatballs to a gentleman in Florida. He FedExed meatballs with sauce, so his sister could have a try. That cost $250 to send them,” Ruccolo said.

Joao Garcia, the manager at Leone’s, enjoys his working relationship with Ruccolo as well as serving customers. Even though there are challenges, such as the heat, which make it feel difficult to work at a pizza place in summer.

“I like when I make a sandwich for a nice customer and see them smile. They get what they want, what they have been eating for 30, 40 years,” Garcia said. “As a Somerville landmark, the relationship between people behind the counter and the people in front of the counter has never changed.”

Leone’s is also famous for delivering pizza for Captain America on air. During one ABC news live show, Chris Evans was surprised with three boxes of Leone’s square pizzas and subs. The super hero screamed with joy, “It’s Leone’s! It’s Leone’s!”

When recalling that experience, Ruccolo said that he got a call from one of the directors of ABC News and he promised to pay Ruccolo to close his store for a day to go to the show in New York.

“My concern was my customers, so I said to my brother, ‘why don’t you go? And I’ll stay at the store’.” Ruccolo said. “But I served Chris Evans quite a few times at the store.”

Ruccolo said that he treats celebrities just like any other customers. “I don’t ask for autographs. I just talk to them as a person,” Ruccolo said.

Leone’s is celebrating its 60th anniversary in business this year. As a family-run business, Leone’s makes many of its customers feel at home too. Buster Cooper, a Somerville native has been a customer of Leone’s for more than 20 years. Cooper said, “Leone’s is like a family kitchen. It serves the meals your mother cooks for you all the time.”

 

6 Responses to “Leone’s, for 60 years, melts its love for customers in cheese”

  1. Boston Kate says:

    I love Leone’s!

  2. gloria says:

    i grew up on leones subs all my life when i was a teen back in the 60s i even ditch school northeastern jr high at lunch for a sub 4 times a week best sub shop in somerville i miss those days my brother AL still eats leones subs all the time

  3. Courtney O'Keefe says:

    I’ll, occasionally, venture out of Ward 5 for some Leone’s ;)

  4. Jim Baab says:

    I had Leone’s pizza for the first time, on the day that this article was posted (I had not read the article yet,) and, I’m hooked – new favorite pizza! Thanks Leone’s! See you, soon!

  5. Jack the Destroyer says:

    Before I go, what kind of pizza is it? I like thin crust and little or no cheese. Is that it?

  6. Steve Keenan says:

    The Leone’s are great people. Mom and dad,son Vic,Nicky, and the whole gang. I remember when they were across the street on Broadway years ago before the Star Market was built. Fine people and awesome food. God bless them all.

    When I was stationed at Central Station down the street on Broadway, I was always eating their subs and pizza. I put on a few pounds,but it was worth it!!

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