Slices of Life

Move over, New York and Neapolitan pizza lovers: South Shore bar pizza is spreading across the nation.

Written by Dave Kindy


This is not your Noni’s pizza. At a distance, it might look Italian, but the hot, steamy delicacy served at the local pub is actually a hybrid. Cooked up locally some 70 years ago, South Shore bar pizza is a fan favorite in the towns below Boston—and is now spreading across the country.

“It’s been crazy over the last couple of years,” says aficionado Martin Davis of Whitman, who grew up eating the tasty pie in Randolph. “Despite Covid, South Shore bar pizza has gotten even more popular. What was once unique to southern Massachusetts can be found as far away as Florida, Colorado and Texas.”

To the uninitiated, South Shore bar pizza is a different dish than the Neapolitan, New York, New Haven, Chicago or even Hawaiian pies many people bite into. Served in a 10-inch pan at scores of bars and lounges across the region, it features a thin, buttery crust with a simple tomato sauce and shredded cheddar cheese spread right to the edge.


“It’s a pizza that was crafted here on the South Shore,” says Kerry Byrne, a former food critic for the Boston Herald who frequently writes about the tasty pie on social media. “It was designed to be simple so a bartender could grab a pan and pop it in the oven while still serving beer.”

The history of South Shore bar pizza is murky. Some say it started in Brockton in the 1940s as a quick meal for factory workers after a long shift making shoes, pointing to Cape Cod Cafe as ground zero. Others say it originated near the shipyards of Quincy at the original Alumni Cafe, which closed several years ago but has reopened in Quincy and Pembroke. Then there are those that swear it sprang forth at AmVets Post Number 51, which now has a restaurant called Hoey’s Pizza, or Lynwood Cafe, both in Randolph, or even Town Spa Pizza in Stoughton.

Though not a founding site, Poopsie’s in Pembroke is considered to have one of the best pies. The lounge on Route 53 is the reigning South Shore Bar Pizza Champion, capturing the 2021 title in a competition among all comers.

Wherever it began, South Shore bar pizza is here to stay. The popular pie is served at eating and drinking establishments across Southeastern Massachusetts in growing numbers. In fact, it even has its own Facebook following through the South Shore Bar Pizza Social Club. Launched by Byrne in 2020, the Facebook page was intended as a vehicle to help local bars make it through restaurant shutdowns brought on by the Covid pandemic. Most places needed to offer curbside or pickup food to stay open, so he hoped to stimulate interest in these mom-and-pop places serving his favorite pizza.

“Originally, I thought I would be writing reviews for 10 people,” a bemused Byrne recalled. “We now have 45,000 members. I didn’t realize that so many people had a favorite bar pizza spot on the South Shore.”

In addition to reviews, the Facebook page features fans galore offering recommendations, suggestions, rankings, rants, even recipes for homemade bar pizza—though that’s considered an oxymoron by true devotees. A number of posts are from out-of-state readers who want to know more about the celebrated cuisine or expats reminiscing about their favorite bar-pizza places.

One former South Shore resident wanted ideas on where to find a bar pizza that could be shipped to Colorado. His post reads in part:

“Do any of you have a recommendation for good pizza to get sent to Denver???  Nothing crazy, just a mushroom and onion, or a linguica and banana pepper..... a simple hamburger would be nice......”

His references to toppings show just how South Shore bar pizza has grown over the years. Originally served with just cheese and sauce, many places have expanded beyond the norm to offer large selections of pizza garnishes, including pepperoni, sausage, onion, bacon, buffalo chicken, even ghost peppers. One place even serves a variety topped with pastrami and pickle.

The Denver fan should take heart. Raynham native Todd Mead is now offering South Shore bar pizza in Boulder, Colorado. Served from a food truck known as Toddzilla, it is advertised on the Massively Wholehearted Pizza website as the Real McCoy “based on a blue-collar pizza tradition from one small region of Massachusetts, where I grew up.”

No matter where you get it or what you have on it, South Shore bar pizza is a winner. There’s nothing like biting into hot pie fresh from the oven, burning the roof of your mouth with molten cheese and then soothing the sting with ice cold beer. 

For Davis, who is also an administrator for the South Shore Bar Pizza Social Club page, that’s the only way to eat it.

“I remember having South Shore bar pizza as a toddler,” he recalls. “We grew up in Randolph halfway between the AmVets post and Lynwood Pizza. My folks were always bringing it home for us to eat. Later, when I came of age, I would go to the bars for the pizza. You have to wash it down with cold beer. That’s the way it was meant to be.”

Lombardo's House Made ItalianSausage_BardosSept2021-58

Bardo’s Breaks into Bar Pizza

The newest version of South Shore bar pizza can be found in South Boston. Opened last year at Castle Island Brewery, Bardo’s Bar Pizza has that distinctive South Shore look and feel—but it contains a secret ingredient.

“When we make the dough, we mix in some Castle Island beer,” says Dave Lombardo, who co-owns the pizza place with his sister Jessica Bigge and cousin Francesca Lombardo. “We add Keeper India Pale Ale to the mixture. It gives the crust added aroma and flavor.”

Before bar-pizza purists start their tongues a-wagging, they should know that Bardo’s pizza is definitely South Shore: it was invented at Lombardo’s Kitchen in Norwood by the family that runs the famed Lombardo’s function facility in Randolph. “We’re the fourth generation to own and operate the family business,”says Lombardo. “We’re taking the next step in continuing the tradition.” 

Lombardo and his clan decided to take on South Shore bar pizza when the folks at Castle Island Brewing, which is brewed in Norwood, said they were looking for a food partner to pair with at its newest location in Southie. “We tried dozens of bar pizzas from legendary places around the South Shore,” says Lombardo. “A few stood out and they are the ones we based our recipe on. We think it’s a winner.”

Many people agree. Bardo’s was recognized as Best Bar Pie in the 2022 Best of Boston readers poll. Boston Magazine even cited the Pickle Pie as “genius.” “I know it doesn’t sound good, but it’s great,” says Lombardo. “You’ve got to try it.”

Bardo’s is planning to make its presence known on the South Shore in the future. Lombardo said he and his co-owners are planning to open a second pizza bar in Norwood in 2023. “It will be a stand-alone restaurant,” he says. “We’re excited.” To learn more, visit

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