Unlike, say, Trenton or New Haven, Boston doesn’t have a distinctive pizza style to call its own. But it does have some sublime incarnations of various different traditions: excellent puffy-crusted Neapolitan, sizzling Sicilian slices, artistic thin-crust creations – all coming from a couple of diverse pizzerias that rank among the best on the entire east coast.
Emma’s is an inventive pizza joint in alternative Kendall Square in Cambridge. It’s a small and cozy space, invariably packed with people tucking into one of Emma’s distinctive thin-crust creations. The place has had fun with its topping combinations, offering a long menu of two dozen crafted options, with such memorable highlights as #16: roasted tomato, garlic, smoked bacon, scallions and gorgonzola.
Posto is a stylishly simple Italian restaurant with a light and airy design scheme. It serves authentic Italian cuisine, with a seasonally attuned range of pasta, meat and fish dishes. But Posto is perhaps best known for its pitch perfect Neapolitan pizzas, baked in a wood-fired oven and with a small number of carefully selected topping combinations.
Galleria Umberto eschews Emma’s inventive flavors and Posto’s fancy design scheme, selling instead chunky Sicilian pizza in a refreshingly basic setting. Its exterior is utterly unadorned, and for years it drew only a loyal crowd of unpretentious locals. But it is slowly gaining a reputation, and more diverse characters now appear in the lengthening queues that snake down its North End street. The thick-crust Sicilian slices ooze with well-seasoned sauce and brown-tinted cheese, providing a satisfying counterpart to the dainty chic of some of the city’s Neapolitan outlets.
Regina Pizzeria has occupied its place among Boston’s best pizzerias since 1926, when its traditional brick oven first roared into action. It continues to bake pizzas today, featuring one of a large selection of authentic topping combinations. Regina’s is great for everything – crispy thin crust, balanced flavors, distinctive atmosphere – but its cheeses really stand out: a little romano in the sauce, and a beautiful whole-milk mozzarella on top. You may have to endure long queues and a quick turnaround, but ultimately it’s the top-notch pizza that will stay in your mind.
Santarpio’s has been battling Regina’s for the title of Boston’s best pizza for the past few decades, although the staff themselves give the impression they couldn’t care less which you prefer. The place is well-known for its stubborn refusal to change its bare bones interior, and the occasionally surly staff. It is less of a tourist destination than Regina’s,tucked away in the winding streets of Boston’s East End. It is also exceptionally good value, and is famed for its BBQ – particularly the lamb – as well as its pizza. Santarpio’s doesn’t do delicacy, either in its presentation or in its food; the crust is damn crispy, and the sauce thick, salty and intense. It also does a great homemade, exceptionally peppery Italian sausage, which detonates on your taste buds atop the already potent sauce. Ultimately, somehow, all these elements come together perfectly, and make a visit to Santarpio’s a memorable experience.