Welcome to Front & Center, a week-long series highlighting front of the house professionals in Boston area restaurants. Here's Gus Rancatore, owner of Toscanini's in Central Square, with memories of Connie at Pizzeria Regina.
Regina's Pizza or Pizzeria Regina on Thatcher St. in the North End is a durable mainstay of the Boston food scene. The glass Coke bottles have been replaced by paper cups and the napkins feature a lame corporate design. The pizza is still great. Regina's might be one of the first good places newcomers, particularly college students discover. In 1973 I had moved to Boston and was living almost inevitably in what was then called North Allston. Someone read an article in the Real Paper or The Boston Phoenix about Boston's best pizza to be found in what was then a very Italian neighborhood. My housemates got a map and piled into our almost communal Chevrolet Malibu. As much as the pizza I remember our waitress, who on our frequent followup visits always seemed to be working. She was a commanding grey-haired figure named Connie who seemed to be as much in charge of the restaurant as our table. I remember feeling clever when I discovered she had a second job as a "lunch lady" in the Somerville School Dept. Her absence is something I always notice when I return.