Boston’s Best Pizza Places

Bostons Best Pizza Places

North Of The CharlesBoston has many virtues. Our sports teams have storied histories, our cultural and historical life is unmatched by much of the country, our significance in the creation of the country is unrivaled. And, most importantly, our cuisine is unequaled. Boston has a little of everything, something to satisfy the taste buds of anyone searching for something to nourish themselves. You can get French, Italian, Greek, Ethiopian, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Mexican, Eclectic, and any number of other food choices within the small sphere that is the Greater Boston area. In a series of articles we will set out and find the best of the best when it comes to food in Boston. We will head North of the Charles and we will look South of the Charles. We will find the restaurants that stand out amongst all of the others and tell you all about them. We will do the experimentation, all you need to do is the eating.

First up, we will look at the tried and true staple of college cuisine, the culinary marvel that is pizza. Pizza is not just pizza, no matter what you may have heard before. Some pizza is better than others, some pizza places are better than others. It is not just dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings. It can be something more, something outstanding. So, now I will lead you to the best three pizza places North of the Charles and the best three pizza places South of the Charles. Come with me, we’re going to get some pie.

Mike’s Pizza & More, Davis Sq, Somerville

The first place we will look at North of the Charles is Mike’s Food and Spirit at 9 Davis Square, Somerville. Mike’s is a haven for hungry students from nearby Tufts and revelers leaving concerts and movies at the square’s own, Somerville Theater. Mike’s has it’s own bar that serves dozens of beers as well as wine and mixed drinks, it’s like your local corner pizza place and the local bar all rolled into one. Mike’s toppings are much like toppings you would find at most pizza joints with a few exceptions. For the seafood lovers out there Mike’s offers both a shrimp scampi and a calamari scampi pizza, each of which is an aquatic culinary delight. What I love about Mike’s is the fantastic people watching opportunities. The walls are basically just huge windows that look out over the square. You can eat your pie and while you watch both skateboarders and yuppies gallivanting side by side. Eating great pizza and watching others live their lives, is there anything we Americans love more than that. I doubt it.

Pini’s Pizzeria, Winter Hill, Somerville

Next up is another Somerville staple, Pini’s Pizzeria on Broadway. Nestled at the bottom of Winter Hill in Somerville, Pini’s delivers some of the best slices in town at the best prices. You can get a large, two-topping pizza for $11, and a large cheese for under $10. First, there’s the ingredients; they’re incredibly fresh and they’re never cooked to hell. The sauce is out-of-this-world good, not too sweet, a little tart, not too chunky, not too runny, just right. Next, the cheese isn’t greasy, it’s just melt-in-your-mouth good. The crust makes it all come together in the perfect pie. It’s thick enough that it doesn’t flop around, but not as deep as deep dish pizza.

Some of Pini’s specialty pizzas include eggplant pizza, their white pizza (without sauce), and their buffalo chicken pizza. They’re all good. You simply cannot get a bad pizza at Pini’s. Although the delivery is free at Pini’s, people literally drive into Somerville from miles away to get one of these pies. It’s well worth it.

Emma’s Pizza, Kendall Sq, Cambridge

Next up is Emma’s Pizza at 40 Hampshire St in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Winner of Boston Magazine’s Best Gourmet Pizza in both 2004 and 1999, Emma’s is, arguably, the best pizza in Cambridge. Emma’s dining room is a little cramped, but it’s worth it. I recommend catching a movie at the nearby Kendall Square Cinema and grabbing a bite at Emma’s afterwards, pizza is always better after a good art house film. But, don’t feel obligated. The pizza is great without the movie. What stands out here is the toppings, you’ve got your good old dependables, but you’ve also got some that lean more towards the strange side. Here you can put dried cranberries, capers, or any of three kinds of potatoes, sweet, Yukon gold, or red bliss. I know it sounds scary, but try it, you’ll like it.

Santarpio’s, East Boston

In East Boston in a nondescript building at 111 Chelsea St is Santarpio’s pizza, Best of Boston winner in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, and 2005. In 1903 the building where Santarpio’s is started as a bakery, in 1933 Frank Santarpio began selling pizzas and has never looked back since. I don’t know how his éclairs were, but the pizzas are out of this world. Still family owned and operated its is Santarpio’s old world charm and years of excellence that raises it above all others. Besides lamb and sausage the menu is nothing but pizza, and drinks, wine and beer. But, you need nothing more here. The pizza is enough to satisfy even the most critical of palates. Having been in the same place for 74 years and selling out all the time, Santarpio’s must be doing something right. And what is right is just great pizza. Toppings aren’t anything to make a huge fuss about, basically what you find most anywhere else, pepperoni, mushroom, sausage, anchovies. It is the freshness of these toppings and the hand made craftsmanship that makes Santarpio’s the best pizza in all of Boston.

South Of The CharlesWhen we’re looking at the southern half of the Greater Boston area for great pizza, there are a number of places that you could go to. After all, this is a college town, so there are pizza places on nearly every street corner. But, amongst all of those cookie-cutter places, there are a few that jump out as something special. There are a few that are more than just bread, tomato sauce, cheese and whatever type of toppings you may choose. There are a few that stand out as more of an experience than a meal.

Pizzeria Regina, the North End, Boston

First is the foremost pizza joint in the entire Boston area. That’s right: it’s Pizzeria Regina. There are a few different Pizzeria Regina’s throughout the city, mostly in mall food courts. But the original, at 11 1/2 Thatcher St. in the North End, is by far the best. Hand-stretched, old school Italian craftsmanship goes into these pies. By no means are these elegant pizzas. They are misshapen, but delicious. Toppings are basically what you would expect, with artichoke hearts and spinach being the only things less than ordinary. It is the rustic taste, the combination of quality ingredients and o ld world love that firmly places Pizzeria Regina at the top of the heap of Boston pizza places. And, really, I don’t see any reason for that to change any time soon.

Bella Luna, Jamaica Plain

Now we’ll head down to Jamaica Plain and check out Bella Luna. At 405 Centre St., Bella Luna is an Italian restaurant known for its pizza. Pizzas here are small, individual size, but they are a meal in themselves. Toppings are a bit more than you are going to find at the place down the street from your friend’s dorm room. The Manny’s Grand Slam, a white pizza with garlic mashed potatoes, bacon, cheddar and scallions, and the Over The Top Ortiz, a pizza featuring buffalo chicken, bleu cheese dressing and chopped celery, are examples of the eclectic toppings you might find.

Served on plates that have been painted by children, the pizzas at Bella Luna feel chic, but comfortably homey. It feels a bit like sitting at your kitchen table with your third grade crayon scribbled masterpiece on the fridge behind you. The biggest selling point of Bella Luna lies in real estate. Location, location, location. In the basement of Bella Luna is The Milky Way, a bowling alley and bar. So, you can eat your pie upstairs and head downstairs to bowl a frame or two or you can belt out some tunes to live-band karaoke.

Pizza Pie-er, Mass. Ave., Boston

Pizza Pie-er is located on Massachusetts Avenue between the Berklee College of Music and the Christian Science Center. They’re a build-your-own-pizza kind of place, where customers can choose their own crust, sauce, and toppings. They can make their pizza healthy as well as delicious, you can choose from regular, whole wheat, and veggie flour crusts. (And they’re all good, believe it or not.) Sauces include red, white, fat free, cajun, pesto, walnut, puttanesca, alfredo, cilantro, and sundried pesto. Toppings include a full variety of meat, seafood, and vegetables. So if you’re into having options for pizza, or into a healthier alternative without sacrificing an ounce of flavor, check out Pizza Pie-ers.

Croma, Newbury St, Boston

The last place we are going to is the classiest pizza in southern Boston. Croma at 269 Newbury St. is pizza at its most stylish. How many pizza places can you have filet mignon and salmon al forno prepared by a world-class chef? Pizzas are small, 10-inch thin crusts, made in the Neapolitan style. Here is the kind of place you might feel like you need a tie, but it’s not required. Elegant and inventive toppings are what sets Croma apart from its many pizza counterparts. You’ll find asparagus, pine nuts, tandoori chicken and emmenthal cheese on their pies. You want elegant, try a Peking duck pizza. That’s right, the same thing you need to order in advance at a nice Chinese restaurant is right here on a pizza. Have a martini or a glass of champagne with your pizza, it’s cool. This is the kind of place you’d expect to see royalty or the president of some Fortune 500 company eating their pizza. Okay, so I wouldn’t go that far, but you’re likely to see more businessmen than construction workers.

In Boston, options abound for pizza lovers. Next time you’re looking for a slice of pie in our fair city, make your way to any of these places. We promise that you will not be disappointed.