Newton may be one of the wealthiest cities in all of Massachusetts, but that doesn't mean the entire community is mansions and boutique shops. Take Newton Upper Falls, for example; mostly working- and middle-class, this little village within Newton is full of old-fashioned character, from its narrow winding streets and charming old homes to its antique stores and unpretentious watering holes, including a classic townie joint called Virgilio's Echo Bridge Restaurant. And like so many townie joints in the Boston area, Virgilio's is known in part for its excellent pizza, though their pies may not quite be what you would expect.
Virgilio's Echo Bridge Restaurant is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it places with a nondescript sign out front that could cause folks to easily mistake it for a sub shop or convenience store. But it is indeed a full-service restaurant, and a surprisingly large one at that. Inside the place is a rather dark barroom to the right, a well-worn but comfortable main dining room to the left, and, up a few stairs, another dining area for overflow further to the left. The decor of the main dining room is right out of the 1960s or 1970s, with wood-paneled walls, tan vinyl booths, maroon carpeting, hanging stained-glass lamps, and a tiled ceiling. Unlike some places of its ilk, however, Virgilio's dining area does not feel even the least bit rough or sketchy, making it a place where friends, couples, and families can all feel comfortable.
While the menu at Virgilio's includes a varied mix of Italian-American entrees and pub grub, the pizza is perhaps the big draw here. As brushed upon earlier, however, the pizza that is served here may surprise some people who assume it is bar pizza, but it is not; the pies here are more like thin-crust Neapolitan or New York style, and a lot larger than your typical individual bar pizza. They are very cheesy (with a nice hint of bitterness) and have a flexible crust that is good for folding. If you aren't in a pizza mood, you have a lot from which to choose, including eggplant parmigiana, chicken wings, ravioli, fried haddock, sirloin steak, and a variety of sandwiches. Portions are substantial and prices are dirt cheap, including the cost of beer and wine.
Virgilio's Echo Bridge Restaurant is probably a little closer to classic Italian-American townie joints such as Denly's in Weymouth than watering holes that specialize in bar pizza such as the Lynwood Cafe in Randolph or the Alumni Cafe [NOW CLOSED] in Quincy. And it is perhaps the Highland Cafe that mostly quickly comes to mind, as Virgilio's indeed feels like a west-of-Boston version of that beloved old spot. Whatever the case, Virgilio's is a great place for lovers of old-fashioned neighborhood restaurants, and the fact that it is hidden in a slightly gritty part of Newton makes it all the more interesting in a way. [Ed note: Virgilio's is cash-only.]
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