The Battle For Cleveland Circle: Pino’s Versus Presto’s

6 Oct

Guest pizza post by no other than Fatman himself…

If you are on top of the Boston pizza scene (New Yorkers enter smirks here), at a minimum, you have heard about the rivalry between Cleveland Circle’s Pino’s and Presto’s. Or if you are a loyal Fatman reader, you have seen me make a reference to it a couple of times in my posts. The background is simple – the owners of Presto’s used to work at Pino’s. They felt they could do it on their own, so they opened up their own place…a few doors down. And the rest, as they say, is history and the ongoing rivalry and debate began. It reminds me of the great cheese steak battle in Philadelphia between Pat’s and Ginos (and yes, I have been to both and have strong feelings toward one over the other, but I’ll save that for another time).

These two long-time Boston College student haunts continue to generate heated discussions between rival supporters to the point of warranting a post from yours truly. Heck, the rivalry even has its own Facebook page, albeit clearly started by a Pino’s fan, “Pino’s and Presto’s: It’s Like Brady and Manning”. While I most certainly do not agree with that analogy, you get the gist for how far-reaching this rivalry is and the passion behind it from the fans of each establishment

Upon announcing my coming out of hiding, I decided to start off with a bang. Last weekend, I left Mrs. Fatman and the Fatbabies 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 debate.

My way of full disclosure, I have eaten at both pizza joints before and do have my opinions of each place. But for review purposes, I sat down at each for the same amount of time and had placed an identical order of two pieces of pizza: one pepperoni slice and one plain cheese slice, along with a bottle of water. And for those of you who have read my prior posts, you know that I am a Pino’s fan, so in order to make this review as unbiased as possible, I started at Presto’s. Without further ado, here are the reviews followed by some of my observations at each eatery and the much anticipated “Fatman’s Verdict”.

Presto’s Pizza
1936 Beacon Street
Brighton, MA
No website

Dine-In or Take-out: Dine-in.

What I Had: One slice of regular, one slice of pepperoni, bottle of Crystal Geyser water.

What It Cost: $6.75.

Crust: Doughy, chewy. If you prefer your crust to be a bit more “bready” and thicker, this is the place for you. If you like crisp crust, perhaps request your slices “well done”.

Sauce: Poor. From what little sauce there was, it created a soggy, mush-like layer between the cheese and the crust.

Cheese: Average. The amount of cheese was excellent, but for some reason the taste was very non-descript.

Pepperoni: 6 pieces in the typical “3-2-1 pyramid” layout.

Grease Factor: Decent. There was not a lot at all on either slice, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I do believe the flavor suffered a little as a result.

Bottom (flour or bird seed): Flour.

Location: Cleveland Circle in Brighton. Directly across from the Cleveland Circle T-stop (C train on the Green Line).

Dine-In Seating: Multiple booths on left and right side as you walk in.

Soda: Coolers and fountain options. Pepsi brand only.

Parting shot: The overall lack of flavor and the under-cooked feel and taste from the crust was a bit surprising, disappointing. Overall, the slices can be considered average…by Boston standards.

Fatman to New Yorker’s: I will not return to this establishment and would not recommend it to anyone seeking pizza resembling that of standard New York fare.

Pino’s Pizza
1920-A Beacon Street
Brighton, MA

Dine-In or Take-out: Dine-in.

What I Had: One slice of regular, one slice of pepperoni, bottle of Crystal Geyser water.

What It Cost: $6.75.

Crust: Very good and what many New Yorker’s would expect from their regular slices, though it could have been cooked a tad longer.

Sauce: Mediocre. If you are a big sauce fan, you likely won’t be thrilled, but it wasn’t drastically different from what you’d find at many NY places.

Cheese: Average. The consistency was not what you would ordinarily find in an great slice, but not terrible.

Pepperoni: 7 pieces. Not overwhelming, but a pretty standard amount. The flavor was excellent and evident on the very first bite.

Grease Factor: Decent amount. Not too much, but enough to leave some stains on the paper plate. Obviously there was more grease on the pepperoni slice.

Bottom (flour or bird seed): Flour.

Location: Cleveland Circle in Brighton. Directly across from the Cleveland Circle T-stop (C train on the Green Line).

Dine-In Seating: Multiple booths on left and right side as you walk in.

Soda: Coolers and fountain options. Pepsi brand only.

Parting shot: There is a reason that this placed was packed with patrons while I was there. The pizza is excellent and can easily be considered on par with what New Yorkers are used to.

Fatman to New Yorker’s: When fellow New Yorker’s come to visit, this is what I order. When Bostonians ask me to provide an example of what is closest to “typical New York pizza” that I have had in the Boston area, Pino’s is what I tell them.

While dining in each place, even though I am only reviewing the pizza itself, here are a couple of observations that I had during my thirty minutes in each that I found amusing, telling:

At Presto’s:

·         Customers: Fairly empty the entire time, five total customers while I was there.

·         Atmosphere: Very quiet, little activity.

·         Overheard: “You guys still make one of my favorite steak and cheeses.” Congrats to them for making a good steak and cheese at a pizza joint. Yikes.

At Pino’s:

·         Customers: A very steady flow of activity that included an ongoing amount of twenty customers throughout my stay.

·         Atmosphere: Bustling with lots of BC students, quite loud at times.

·         Overheard: “This is like the best thing I have ever had in my mouth and I have had a lot of things in my mouth.” Disturbingly, this was spoken by a dude to his female co-diner, who he was ironically engaged in a debate with regarding Pino’s and Presto’s. She preferred Presto’s, while he clearly preferred Pino’s.

Fatman’s Verdict:

The order was the same, as was the price, but that is where the similarities between Pino’s and Presto’s ends. Frankly, I am not sure what the debate is actually all about, as I do not see Presto’s being in the same class as Pino’s. But, I have also heard Bostonian’s say that Bertucci’s is “really good pizza”. So, I suppose it would stand to reason that if both of these pizza joints produced very similar offerings, there would be less of a debate to be had. As these reviews are designed to be brought to you from a New Yorker’s perspective, Pino’s would stand-up to any typical New York strip mall pizza joint. Presto’s would not.

This reviewer isn’t sure whether or not the defector’s at Presto’s decided that they needed to make a different pizza than their former employers or they actually believe their version is better. Whichever the case, my vote it to stick with the original. I don’t believe it was a coincidence why there were 5 customers in one and 20 in the other. Pino’s gets the Fatman’s New Yorker stamp of approval.

Give it to me people. Share your thoughts and experiences with either or both places. Agree? Disagree? And…what place should Fatman visit next to review?


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