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Lannos in Watertown, Mass., for Old School Italian Cuisine

A few questions have come up in regards to what makes me qualified to write this blog, Old School Boston. I can answer that sufficiently by saying that yesterday I drove five miles with the left blinker on.

Now that you have my credentials, let's move onto the next Old School Boston article!

Anyone remember Lannos in Watertown, Mass.? I think they were an old school restaurant the very day they opened with enough parm dishes and carpeting to write the textbook on classic Italian-American restaurants. I can't say for sure, but Lannos felt like a family-owned and operated restaurant as you would see the same faces (all friendly) year after year. Lannos was great for affordable lunches and dinners, as well as being able to aptly accommodate functions. It was a pretty large downtown restaurant with, as I recall, a downstairs, too.

I believe Lannos closed in the mid-90s. If I am wrong, someone please correct me. I'm doing this all on memory.

Traditional Italian-American restaurants are definitely on the wane in the Boston area, as there is more of a demand for the higher end, more authentic Italian restaurants. That is fine with me, but sometimes you just need a slab of parm, an unpretentious atmosphere, and a vociferous staff and clientele that keeps the dining experience from being like that of eating in a library.

If you have any fond memories of Lannos, we'd love to hear them!


8 comments:

  1. When my husband and I started dating, he lived in Watertown and we frequented Lanno's on many a Friday or Saturday night in the early 90's. The food was great and you could always count on the manager to come by and ask how everything was. By the mid-to--late 90's the manager was not to be found and the food went downhill. We knew the end was near when we ordered a chicken wing appetizer that arrived at the table still nearly frozen! Very sad... Yes they went out of business sometime around then.

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  2. I miss Lanno's.
    From my understanding, the sons did not want to continue the family business.
    So sad.
    They had the best pizza.
    Better than Chateau or The Upper Crust.
    Me and my father used to have pizza there all the time.
    Now it's a parking lot owned by the Watertown Savings Bank, where I bank at.
    Great bank.

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  3. I am currently holding Lanno's placemat from 1976!

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  4. Used to visit Lanno's all the time in the mid to late 80's, it was a great neighborhood Italian restaurant, very reasonable prices, great food and service. Now it's a parking lot. They Paved Paradise...

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  5. Thanks for the kind comments, Lanno's was my father's restaurant. It was in my family for 50 plus years (used to be the Watertown Sea Grille - by my grandfather). Unfortunately my dad passed early at 52 - and it's not that we didn't want to keep it open, we couldn't at the time. Thank you for the kind comments!!

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    1. Wow, one of my two maiden aunts, my Aunt Mimi (who lived in Watertown, on Evans Street, about a half mile from Millie's Spa on Main St.) was the first one to introduce me to Lanno's Sea Grille.

      And although my immediate family tended to eat more at the neighboring Chateau in Waltham, (which was also my hometown), since we lived in east Waltham (Warrendale) we were also not far from Watertown.

      And since both my parents had been raised in Newton, we often visited that great suburban Boston city too. Truthfully, we spread our business around. I can also remember having eaten at the Boston Seafood Restaurant at Newton Corner and at the Bluebell Restaurant (one of my very favorite places, they also served a nice spaghetti) in Newtonville. Now the Bluebell is a belly dancing establishment, very sad, unless one enjoys belly dancing more than a classy general family-style menu restaurant.

      I recall Lanno's had what were called "meatcakes," just meatballs really, except larger and only one or two of them of them on top of the pasta. To this day Lanno's meatcakes (as I recall they were named) remain my very favorite. And I have not truly tasted a really great Italian-American meatball since about the early 1980s anyway.

      Even though The Chateau remains in business with the same family ownership (Nocera family), their food doesn't taste as great as it did in the 1960s and '70s, certainly the meatballs don't taste the same. My thoughts on that is that even though the recipes could be the exact same ones, if a different cook is preparing the food, the taste may not necessarily be the same. Does this sound like a correct hunch to you?

      Gee, I didn't realize your father died at only 52 years of age. That is terribly young. But I can relate somewhat to your situation, as I lost my mother when she was only 55 years old, when I was just 11 y.o. myself.

      Did you have to sell Lanno's almost immediately after your dad's death? Or did you family continue to operate the restaurant for awhile after his passing?

      Do you still reside in the Greater Boston area? And if so, what Boston area restaurant would you say is comparable in food quality to what Lanno's offered in its heyday?

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  6. To "furniture" (cont'd.): Do you remember The European restaurant in the North End of Boston? And did you and your family ever eat at other Italian-American restaurants, such as The European?

    Also, did you ever eat at Stella's Pizza at Coolidge Square in Watertown? That is one place I have visited in recent years which does still have great New York-style, thin crust pizza, with even proportions of cheese and tomato sauce. I spoke to the proprietor the last time I visited Stella's (which was shorty after the Boston Marathon Bombing, where the suspects were caught and killed just blocks from Stella's) and he told me the business had been in his family for many years by then. I intend to make a return trip to taste a meatball sub at Stella's, since during my last few visits to Stella's I ate pizza.

    Take care, but please reply if you have some spare moments.

    Papa Gino's and Uno's pizzas are not bad for chains. But they still don't compare to the family-owned-and-operated Italian-American places I recall from my youth.

    Do you remember Pelligrini's Pizza at Newton Corner? I remember stopping by Pellgr8ni's with my married aunt from Waltham, to call or meet her husband (my Uncle John) at his store, Newton Glass Co. (picture framers), on the way back from The Enchanted Village at Jordan Marsh one early-to-mid-December evening about 1969 or 1970. And my Auntie Dot and I enjoyed some slices of pizza at Pelligrini's while we waited for a ride home from either my father or a taxi.

    What is your family surname, by the way?

    I have one more anecdote I may tell you about your family's former restaurant. When I was 16 years old (in late May of 1974) I ate at Lanno's with my father and stepmother, as well a date with a girl who I thought then was a combination of Cher and Liza Minnelli (to give you a clue where my head was at then). That evening at Lanno's was actually my "Sweet 16" birthday dinner. And Lanno's served me (and my date) the first beers I had ever drunken at a place of public accommodation, even though I was still two years under the legal age for consuming alcohol in Massachusetts (which was then still 18 years old). But in those days, before the hysteria about underage drinking and DUIs had begun, it was a different attitude, plus that I was with my parents, so no one even questioned the situation,. That was also still several years before there was an organization called "Mothers Against Drunk Driving." And if one was with one's family and had adult supervision, proprietors of restaurants tended to respect that arrangement, as if one was dining in one's own private home. Plus you know, Italian-American families often had a European approach to teens and drinking, that it is okay if consumed with meals. Today, drinking of alcohol by minors is a different situation, and i.d. cards would always be requested if there is any suspicious a customer is not legal, even if accompanied by an adult guardian or parents. But that was a very different time. And besides, the statue of limitations for an alcohol violation is long passed and Lanno's is sadly :( now gone too.

    But I really loved your family's restaurant, wish I had save d a matchbook or some memento from Lanno's, didn't think back then so many fine places would one day no longer be with us. Amazingly, though, Verona's on Mount Auburn Street is still in business. But that place was never as exceptional as Lanno's or The Chateau anyway.

    Oh, and I also liked Napoli's Pizza in Watertown Square. So many back then which were fine Italian-American eateries. And don't forget Sal's Pizza in Waltham either, burned to the ground about a decade ago now, had intended to relocate and rebuild, but never did. I enjoyed many a fine pizza pie and several meatball subs too at Sal's.

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  7. My husband and I had our first date there in October 1982. We will be married 32 years this month. Many great meals there.

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