By Elizabeth Connolly
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Another one bites the dust - or, in this case, crust. Needhamites were surprised to discover earlier this month that their local Bertucci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria has permanently closed. Though reactions on social media ranged from sadness over the loss of a favorite restaurant to animated debates over what should go in the now-empty space, all seemed to agree that the closure came quite suddenly.
“Bertucci’s Pizza and Bocce” first opened its doors in 1981 in Somerville, MA. Founder Joseph Crugnale, who also owned Steve’s Ice Cream two doors down in Davis Square, is said to have opened the pizza shop to prevent another ice cream shop from moving into the neighborhood. The strategy worked; both shops flourished, though in different ways. Crugnale, who was born in Sulmona, Italy, brought the brick oven concept back to Boston with him after visiting a relative there years after originally emigrating to Massachusetts. Though the ice cream business was originally his main focus, a brick oven was soon built at the pizza shop and word of mouth about the delicious, hearth-fired pizza began to spread.
While Steve’s Ice Cream went on to be sold, Bertucci’s grew in popularity, and soon size, with the addition of the Holliston and Cambridge locations. By the late 1980’s it was known as one of the most popular pizza restaurants around, and expansion plans continued. At the peak of its success in the late 2010’s, the restaurant chain boasted about 100 locations, though by this time Crugnale had lost his shares in the company to a New England restaurant corporation.
Bertucci’s had filed for bankruptcy in both 2018 and 2022, and it would appear that the latest filing is the behind the recent restaurant closures in Brockton, Canton, North Attleboro, Peabody, and now Needham. Earl Enterprises, an Orlando, FL based company, purchased the Bertucci’s back in 2018 with hopes of salvaging it and remain the current owner.
We reached out to Earl Enterprises for a comment about the Needham closure, but as of press time have not heard back.