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Bertucci's logo
Bertucci's restaurant Rt.1, Peabody, Massachusetts
Bertucci's restaurant Rt.1, Peabody, Massachusetts

Bertucci's is a Northborough, Massachusetts-based private company which runs a chain of sit-down Italian restaurants offering brick oven pizza and Italian food. It also offers delivery (from some stores), take-out and private dining. Bertucci's was founded by Joey Crugnale in Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1981. The company expanded rapidly during the 1990s. Bertucci's locations are primarily found in the Northeast, but range as far south as Virginia. N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc. bought out Bertucci's in 1998, adopting the Bertucci's Co. name in 2001.


Joseph ("Joey") Crugnale, Bertucci’s founder, was born in Sulmona, Italy. He landed his first job in a restaurant while in high school, after emigrating to Boston. He worked as a porter at the Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. In 1974 he opened his first ice cream stand. In 1975, he refinanced his father's home and purchased Steve's Ice Cream from founder Steve Herrell for $80,000. Crugnale established 26 stores before selling the concept to Integrated Resources in 1983 for $4.5 million.[1]

The first 'Bertucci's Pizza and Bocce' was opened in 1981, two doors from Steve's Ice Cream in Davis Square. Bertucci’s was opened to eliminate the possibility of an ice cream competitor moving in. The name was found in a magazine during a flight to New York City.[1] The original location had a bocce court in the basement,[2] as did the second location, in Brookline.


Two more Massachusetts restaurants opened in 1985, in Cambridge and Brookline Village. They featured open-hearth brick oven specialty pizzas topped with ingredients such as artichoke hearts and roasted eggplant. No two Bertucci's were alike to avoid marketing as a chain. The Brookline restaurant contained an outdoor bocce court. It planned to operate 20 restaurants by 1990. The Brookline restaurant closed in September 2009.[1]

While the company grew it spent less than 1 percent of revenues on advertising, relying on word of mouth. USA Today listed Bertucci's as one of America's top 10 pizza restaurants in 1989; by then, its headquarters were in Woburn.[1]


In the 1990s Bertucci’s menu added soups, salads, and pasta dishes before expanding into Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Bertucci's in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. (Now closed)

Bertucci's became a publicly owned company in July 1991. The company offered 21 units for $13 per share. That year sales increased 30 percent to $37.4 million and net income increased by 90 percent to $3 million. Stock prices nearly doubled, selling for $24.75 per share.[1][3]

In 1992 delivery and take-out services were added; Bertucci’s grew from 26 to 36 stores. In 1994, it expanded to Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Orlando, Florida, and New Jersey. Bertucci’s had 63 stores by 1995.

A $10.4 million wrongful death lawsuit against Bertucci's was filed in July 1995. Janet Walker, of Salem, New Hampshire, went into anaphylactic shock and then slipped into a coma after ingesting pesto sauce that contained nuts. The waitress, according to the lawsuit, failed to mention the nuts. A week later, Walker died. The case never went to trial.[4]

Joey Crugnale attempted to take the chain private again in 1998,[2] but though the board approved his attempt, he was outbid. N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc. purchased Bertucci’s for $10.50 a share during the buyout.[5]

Crugnale has moved on to own two individual restaurants, Naked Fish in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Red Sauce (now closed).[2]


In 2001, N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc. sold its Chili's and On the Border restaurants to Brinker International,[6] and changed its name to Bertucci's Corp. A $4 million advertising tagline "Everybody Eats" was developed in April 2002. In 2006, Italian chain Vinny T's rebranded as Buca di Beppo and withdrew from some markets. As part of their consolidation, they sold 11 Boston locations to Bertucci's Corp.[7]


In 2011, The Boston Globe did a DNA investigation of fish available in area restaurants and supermarkets and determined that 50% of the fish was not properly labelled as to species.[8] Bertucci's was asked for comment, and acted swiftly to correct the issue - an article on their search to find an acceptable serving of cod to replace the hake that their supplier had sourced them with appeared at the same time as the report on the investigation.[9]

On December 3, 2012 Bertucci's opened its first 2Ovens concept restaurant in the re-vamped White City shopping center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The brick ovens are the only method of cooking in the restaurant.[10]

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