A New Yorker’s Guide To Pizza In Massachusetts

12 Apr

By: Fatman

One’s from Wisconsin, the other’s from South Carolina. What the hell do your beautiful blog hostesses know about pizza? About as much as I do about staying fit or dieting.

Since I moved to Boston from New York in October 2004 (the absolute worst time for a life-long, die-hard Yankees fan to stroll into Beantown), I have been whining to anyone and everyone within shouting distance about the travesty that is called “pizza” in this fine city and its outlying areas.

The bottom line: do NOT get New Yorkers started on pizza. Never. You can’t win. Because if there is anything that New Yorkers know…it’s pizza. Say what you will about New York and its inhabitants. But if you try to take them on about pizza, be prepared for a debate, and one that you have no chance of winning…unless you are Charlie Sheen. Get it? If not, stop reading now.

I have had many come back at me with, “Dude, Pizzeria Regina – North End” with that gawd awful Good Will Hunting accent. Bostonians refer to that as the “best pizza”. In New York, do you know what we call it? PIZZA! That’s right. Every street corner that has a pizzeria in New York is like Pizzeria Regina, or better. And by New York, I am not talking about just Manhattan, as I grew up on Long Island…but the five boroughs, Westchester, Long Island, etc. Even parts of Jersey count, but don’t tell anyone from New York that I said that). Wake up, Boston…that is what pizza is SUPPOSED to taste like.

Being a Fatman in a new city, naturally upon moving into to my new digs in 2004, I find out where the closest pizza place is and head over for a couple of slices and a Coke. At this point, I did not know that “pizza” in this town is defined as Bertucci’s, Papa Gino’s or Papa John’s. In a word, folks, that is NOT pizza. But I digress. Sort of.

Since my arrival in 2004, I have realized my mission. My purpose. Why I was brought to Boston. First, to help educate the Masses (capitalized on purpose) on what pizza is all about. And second, to serve as a resource to my fellow New Yorkers who decide to visit, or heaven help them, move to the greater Boston area. The last thing anyone needs is for ANOTHER New Yorker to get blind-sided with some Ellio’s-esque crap, disguised as pizza. Trust me. I have been whining about it for nearly seven years now. You don’t want more of me out there.

So after a couple of years of nagging from your aforementioned blog hostesses, I have decided to jump in and start doing “reviews” of each of the pizzerias that I dine at along the way. And since I have hit up a bunch, I will do some retroactively, but ONLY if all of the details remain vivid. Otherwise, I will visit the place again before providing my two-and-a-half cents on the joint.

What you should keep in mind is that I am not “grading” places a la Zagat’s or that purple fraud. The best way to look at this guide (of sorts) is one New Yorker’s comparison and perspective of 30+ years of New York pizza consumption (and as much as possible when I go back to visit) and how I measure the New York experience to the places here in Boston. Sometimes I will be harsh, but not always. I can say that I have found a few places that could just as easily be in the East Village or in a strip mall on Strong Island.

I have a few specific categories that I will be judging and providing my thoughts on, but you should know that I have a pre-disposition to not believing in “Greek” joints as being true pizzerias, much the same as place’s named something like, “Dennis’ or Tim’s”. It is not a rule, but I have yet to stroll into one of these places and come away with a good experience. I prefer to stick to places like “Anthony’s or Luigi’s” or any place that sports a last name with multiple vowels. The more I’s”, the better.

Also, a pet peeve and huge no-no to me: Places that claim, “New York style pizza”. Stop it. The moment you put that on your building, you started lying. Unless you are shipping New York water here. Then I’ll give you a pass. Readers, you’ve been warned.

Okay, on to the categories. There are just a few. That is the beauty of pizza. Dough. Sauce. Cheese. That’s it. So simple, yet so hard to perfect. Go figure. Anyway, I will be discussing crust, sauce, cheese as the primary focus. I will discuss the grease factor (real men don’t sit there with napkins blotting or soaking up grease). I will discuss the bottom of the pizza. That’s right. Whether flour or what I call “bird seed” is used. To me, bird seed is bad. A no, no. But on that, I will simply list as fact and to each his/her own.

I will let you know whether or not I bought by the slice or by the pie (New Yorkers know why, as there IS a difference), whether I dined in or it was take out. I will let you know if I had “regular” or Sicilian slices. For review purposes, my orders will be two slices of pizza and a soda (preferably fountain, if available). I will ALWAYS get one regular cheese slice. And the other will be a regular pepperoni slice (I will count the slices of pepperoni put on the slice) or a Sicilian cheese slice.

These ”reviews” will only be a look at the slices themselves, not other food offered. And while these snapshots are not designed to be comprehensive, I will do my best to include websites, addresses/locations, soda offerings (fountain or coolers and whether or not each place is a Coke or Pepsi shop) and the dine-in experience (number of tables and such).

I hope this guide serves the function of stimulating conversation and stokes the fire of any great pizza debates there are in the Boston area. Will the BC crowd weigh-in with the legendary Pino’s versus Presto’s chatter? Will Santarpio’s fans throw their hat into the ring and stake a claim for best pizza around? At the end of the day, while this is all very subjective, perhaps we can collectively put together a definitive guide of the best pizza places in the greater Boston area…and make sure that nobody (locals and New Yorkers alike) never have to eat crappy pizza again!

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12 Responses to “A New Yorker’s Guide To Pizza In Massachusetts”

  1. Lauren Howe April 13, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Love it! As a native Long Islander (and die-hard Yankees fan as well) who has living in the Boston area for the last 14 years, I cannot wait to see what people have to say about this. I will never forget the day I ordered a plain pie and my friend asked me what I was talking about. It’s called a pizza PIE. DUH!

    After you’re done with pizza, you should try bagels next. 🙂

  2. Fatman April 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Oh yes, Lauren…bagels. Well, that is a separate animal, and with all of the things to gripe about in Beantown (did someone say Chinese food?), I decided to pick my battles and stick with my truest love.

    Truth be told, I am not *that* picky about bagels, though I grew up in a family where we would stand on line outside of our local bagel shop on Sunday mornings (yes, Bostonians…for REAL bagels, those shops have lines) for pipin’ hot, right out of the oven circles of heaven.

    And…I will NEVER be done with pizza. The quest will always continue. And…”pie”. I know…don’t get me started.

    While not for review, Fatman is having Mrs. Fatman bring home a couple of regular and a couple of Sicilian slices from Pino’s 🙂

    I will do a separate battle of Cleveland Circle post during the summer where I review Pino’s vs. Presto’s.

    • PDXMEg April 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Duh, Pino’s.

    • D April 14, 2011 at 7:42 am #

      Anyone trying to push Regina’s as real pizza needs to wake up and realize that they sell that shit in food courts. Case closed. What we need in chapter 2 on this is Fatman’s suggestions on where to get pie in NYC. For me, it’s John’s Pizzeria on west 44th. Other spots too.

      • Fatman's Brother, Skinnyman April 14, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

        Lombardi’s in Little Italy. I also like Grimaldi’s, but I suppose those are unoriginal picks. However, my girlfriend, Miss Skinnylady, once brought me a whole Lombardi’s pie from NY on the train back to Boston. Fatman and I have distinct and obvious criteria for selecting our women.

  3. Jeff Coveney April 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    May have to get some pizza tonight.

    • MarkC April 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      Pino’s by far. Also good, TAnthony’s on comm ave by BU. Andrina’s pizza in Arlington and Ernesto’s in NEnd.

      Original regina’s in N End is decent though, you can’t lump in the mall stuff.

  4. cdog April 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    I have to agree with Skinnyman – I visited Grimaldi’s last year and LOVED it. Kteb introduced me to Ernesto’s a couple weeks ago in the N.End – also good, but that may have been because I was starving. Let the pizza debate continue!!

  5. ktebcdog April 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    happy birthday skinnyman (fatman’s brother)!

  6. michaelpg (@michaelpg) November 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Pinos 4 life

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Battle For Cleveland Circle: Pino’s Versus Presto’s « The Eats - October 6, 2011

    […] behind and dined at both pizza joints to finally call an end to the nonsense and put my “New Yorker stamp of approval” and declare a winner in the great Pino’s versus Presto’s […]

  2. Top 10 Cities for Pizza… Hint: Boston tops NYC. | The Eats - August 19, 2013

    […] If you don’t know why I am calling out Fatman, read this. […]

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