Pizza in Boston

Story and Photos by Cady Abood

Boston.

When I finally chose to attend Northeastern, this was the word that floated through my head. Sure, the academics and co-ops are great, but Boston is what sealed the deal: the diverse population, the towering brownstones, and, of course, the extensive food scene. I would fantasize with my friends, dreaming of seafood and Boston cream pies, of late night dinners and early morning brunches.

When I finally arrived, I realized that one food was missing: pizza. Boston seemed to be totally and completely clueless about pizza.

As an Italian that grew up an hour away from New York City, pizza feels like home. Gooey cheese, thin crust, a sweet, tangy tomato sauce that pulls it all together; the aroma of freshly made pies used to drift around my childhood home. The chewy and greasy slices that I came to associate with Boston were a far cry from the pizza my nonna used to make, and I found myself staring at four bleak, pizzaless years at Northeastern.

To be fair, my opinion at the time was based solely on the subpar slice of pizza I had gotten from Boston House of Pizza which, I now know, is not indicative of Boston as a whole. Throughout the city, there are a few hidden treasures, and quite a few more major misses.For your convenience, I have compiled a review of the best pizza places in Boston – no longer will there be hapless, ignorant freshmen oblivious to the crisp and fresh slices waiting just around the corner.

Before I get into the review, there is one important thing to note: there are many different kinds of pizza. There are the crisp New York slices, the soft Italian style pies, the deep dish, doughy pizza that Chicago is known for. Because of the variety, it is hard to directly compare pizzas, and it is impossible to claim that my favorite should be everyone else’s, so take this list with a grain of salt. To even the playing field a bit, I will only be ordering plain slices.

Eataly

The first stop on my tour of Boston was Eataly. Yes, I know, Eataly isn’t strictly in Boston, but with all the artisinal pastas, imported chocolates, and exotic cheeses, Eataly seemed like the place most likely to have a classic Italian pizza.

I was not disappointed.

The Crust

The crust is how you can really tell if a pizza is more Americanized or Italian-style, and Eataly was without a doubt Italian. The crust was thin throughout the body of the pizza, soft and pillowy where you held the slices. It was so soft that the pizza drooped when you lifted it, and each bite seemed to fall apart in your mouth. It almost would have been better if you had eaten it with a fork and a knife, which is the mark of a true Italian pizza.

The Cheese

Eataly didn’t have any plain slices – instead, their simplest slice was a Margharita: sprigs of Basil and splashes of mozzarella on a simple tomato sauce. Because of this, cheese was definitely not the main feature of Eataly’s pizza, so if you’re craving cheesy, gooey pizza, this one is not for you. The mozzarella itself was warm but not melty. It was fresh and held its shape well.

The Sauce

This was the star of the show, without a doubt. The freshness of the tomato seemed to soak into the crust, bringing all the flavors of the slice together. There were some pieces of tomato that, like the mozzarella, existed for texture.

Dining Hall Pizza

Okay, so I wasn’t going to include Dining Hall Pizza, but my roommate insisted. Seeing as this list is for the average Northeastern student, I saw no reason that I shouldn’t, and so here we are.

The Crust

The crust was unremarkable. It was thin, which is a good start, but it was also stiff, and was largely overshadowed by the cheese.

The Cheese

The cheese was definitely the main feature of the pizza. The ratio of cheese to sauce was skewed heavily in the direction of the former, which, if the sauce had been more substantial, might not have been such a bad thing. As it is, the pizza was basically a thin, bland crust spoon for transporting stiff cheese into your mouth.

The Sauce

Honestly, pretty nonexistent.

Ernesto’s

Now that the Dining Hall is out of the way, it’s time to move on to my third stop on the pizza crawl: Ernesto’s. After learning about the North End, I knew that was where I could most reliably find a solid slice of pizza, and one of my co-workers confirmed it. They pointed me in the direction of Ernesto’s, a small, hole-in-the-wall pizzeria tucked in the middle of Boston’s version of Little Italy. With paper plates, paper cups, and over-the-counter service, the restaurant had all the makings of a classic pizzeria. The man behind the counter handed me two slices when I had asked for one, I fell a little bit in love.

The Crust

Oh my god, the crust. It was thin and crisp, just like the slices that I’ve come to associate with New York and New Jersey. This, mixed with sauce, were the highlights of the pizza.

The Cheese

Honestly, there wasn’t anything particularly noticeable about the cheese. There was a slight hint of the taste beneath the sauce, but it definitely existed more for texture than for taste. It was a good cheese, just not great.

The Sauce

Like all of my favorite pizzas, the true flavor of the sauce was revealed when I folded the slice in half. It allows for a better distribution of sauce to cheese and crust, and in this case, it revealed the smooth and fresh tomatoey bliss of the sauce.

Regina’s

You knew Regina’s had to make it on the list. When I first started asking around Boston, Regina’s name was all I heard. Natives swear by it, visitors adore it, and so that was how I made my way to the original location on a quiet corner in the North End. Unlike Ernesto’s, Regina’s is a sit-down pizzeria where you can only order in the form of an entire pie. My stomach and I were most certainly okay with that, so I ordered a 10” plain pizza.

The Crust

The crust was thin and soft. The bottom lacked a crunch due largely, I think, to the grease on top, but once you finished the main body of the slice and worked your way to the top, the crust became nice and crisp.

The Cheese

The cheese was most definitely the main feature of a classic Regina’s slice. Sometimes, it seemed to hide the taste of the sauce, but it made up for it by being, well, cheese. It was, however, covered in a fair amount of grease.

The Sauce

Like at Ernesto’s, the sauce really came out when you folded the slices. The sauce was fairly good, when you could taste it.

Coppa

The last stop on my list was Coppa. Coppa, unlike the other restaurants on this list, is not all about pizza. Located in the South End, I was surprised to find an elegant and cozy Italian enoteca tucked away from the main roads. The smell drifting out the door pulled me in with the promise of a delicious meal, and I think I deserve some points for ignoring the decadent pasta and sandwich dishes passing me by. I had to be strong. Pizza, here I came.

The Crust

The crust was thin and soft, with more and more of a bite the further up you ate. It tasted like the perfect blend of traditional Italian and a New York twist.

The Cheese

Coppa’s pizza, in addition to the normal cheese covering it, was spotted with fresh mozzarella. Where with a typical “Margarita” slice, you only get cheese in certain bites, this pie gave you consistent cheese with an occasional extra cheesy surprise. Despite the double cheese, it was not overpowering and mingled well with the sauce.

The Sauce

The sauce was fresh and smooth, but it also hid an added surprise. The tomato was mixed with a light balsamic that spun a twist on the classic tomato sauce.

The Verdict

  1. Coppa
  2. Eataly
  3. Ernesto’s
  4. Regina’s
  5. Dining Hall

Okay, so I know there are going to be some passionate Bostonians angry about the fact that Regina’s didn’t make the top three, but I can’t help it. Coppa’s is undeniably amazing – the crust is a combination of the soft, pillowy crust of an Italian made pizza and the crispness of the New Jersey/New York slices I grew up with. The addition of the balsamic gave the pie Coppa’s unique touch. The second and third place were much harder for me to decide. I knew it would come down to Ernesto’s and Eataly, but they were two completely different style pizzas. Eataly was a glorious mess of tomato sauce and light crust; Ernesto’s gave a satisfying crunch with each bite, a slice that was meant to be folded and savored. In the end, Eataly’s pizza won out. I loved how it fell apart in my mouth, how well the sauce and the crust worked together, and the fresh, cheesy bliss the mozzarella offered.

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