Up next in our Pizza Week 2014 survey series, we present the favorite local pizzas of Boston chefs and other industry folks around town, from late-night slices to gourmet pies. (Consult this earlier post to learn about the "proper definition" of pizza, according to some of the same folks.) Psst...if you're a Boston chef or restaurateur and want to get in on the rest of the questions being posed this week, hit us up.
Frank DePasquale, Owner of DePasquale Ventures: "I love the pizza at Pasta Beach. It is delicious with simple flavors, and it stays true to the definition of a pizza."
Phil Frattaroli, Owner of Ducali: "Umberto's on Hanover St. (Sicilian sheet pizza), the St. Anthony's pizza at Regina (sausage, onions, green peppers), Santarpio's plain cheese."
Dante de Magistris, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Restaurant dante and il Casale: "Pasta Beach! Favorite toppings — well, that depends on my mood. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a simple pizza margherita. Sometimes a pizza margherita with anchovies. But I will always ask for it to be well done so it arrives to me with an extra char on the crust. Most people around here would consider that to be burnt. However, I consider it perfect and how I remember eating it a million times in Naples.
They use a precise Neapolitan pizza dough recipe (many people use the same recipe: '00' flour or bread flour, water, yeast, and salt.) However, the type of flour, water, and yeast matter to get it just right. They also have the right mixing technique by using a specific Italian mixer designed to work with this dough, and their proofing times are also precise. When you follow all the correct Neapolitan pizza rules, you end up with it fluffy, light, chewy, and slightly crispy, all while the very hot oven creates a nicely flavored char and caramelizes the proteins in the dough so nicely. They bake it in a 700-degree oven that cooks this delicate dough in 90 seconds.
In short, this delicate, satisfying pizza doesn't make you feel like there is a brick in your stomach after eating a whole pizza. This way you can save room for beer and something else to eat. I could go on and on about toppings but I'll stop for now."
Tom Borgia, Executive Chef of Russell House Tavern: "I haven't been back since I worked there in 1998, but I absolutely loved Mistral's pizzas. All of them. I loved the fact that they were grilled, and they always used quality ingredients."
Rodney Murillo, Culinary Director of Davio's: "Figs — square pizza, not round. It's super thin, and my favorite one is the white clam pizza."
Carla and Christine Pallotta, Co-Owners of Nebo: "If not ours, Parzialie Bakery pizza squares, plain cheese. (They only serve one type, plain.)"
Will Gilson, Chef/Owner of Puritan & Co.: "It's a tie between Coppa and A4. I like the flavors that Coppa combines…but A4 is walking distance from my house. And I haven't been in years, but my OG Boston pizza was Ernesto's."
Amy Audette, General Manager & Wine Director at Lineage: "Pinos!! Best old school pizza and staff around. I'm there like two times a week after work!"
Francisco Millan, Chef de Cuisine at Row 34: "This is a hard question to answer because it is really based on what my mood for the day is. Do I feel like going to a restaurant and sitting down, or do I just feel like grabbing a slice? There are really two pizzas that I crave. If it's spring and the patio is open, then I am going to Coppa and, without a doubt, getting the ramp pizza with a fried egg on it. I crave that pizza when ramp season is about to start and try to get it as many times as possible before ramp season ends.
My other favorite pizza is the Napoletana Pizza from Regina's in the North End. It is a pizza with red sauce, anchovy, capers, Pecorino, garlic, basil. But you gotta get it well done and put their chili garlic sauce on it. It is awesome and has salty, briny, spicy, crunchy all in one bite. I'm actually craving it right now."
Josh Bhatti, Bowery Presents & The Sinclair: "Two come to mind: Otto for gourmet pizza and Pleasant Cafe for a timeless classic."
Dave Werthman, Bar Manager at The Sinclair: "Woody's by Symphony for thin wood-fired. House-made sausage is the jam, and the oven behind the bar is perfect on a winter day. Pinocchio's in Harvard for best for Sicilian. Our barback/receiver eats it seven days a week, sometimes twice."
Nicki Hobson, Chef de Cuisine at Island Creek Oyster Bar: "Since I've been back in Boston, the best and most memorable I've had are Coppa and Picco in the South End and Posto in Somerville. I don't have a specific pizza from either because I've truly enjoyed each and every one, but the simpler, the better. If the ingredients are fresh, my choice would always be pepperoni and mushroom (salumi piccante and porcini) — a classic."
Sal Lupoli, President and CEO of Salvatore's Restaurants and Sal's Pizza: "For me it's about the memories that food creates, and as you can imagine, I have a ton of great memories with pizza. OK, first of all, my mother makes the best pizza. That is all — and if she sees this article, I am now free to mention others. As far as places I love, I would say Santarpio's in East Boston. I also love Regina's, and I love Galleria Umberto. I have great pizza memories at all of these places. I love what they do. I also think the pizzas we put out at Sal's and Salvatore's are really amazing each in their own way. As far as what type — a simple margherita or just plain cheese is the kind of guy I am. I want to taste the crust, the sauce they use, and the cheese."
Kosta Diamantopoulos, Co-Owner of All Star Pizza Bar and All Star Sandwich Bar: "Slice of cheese pizza at Bianchi's Pizza on Revere Beach. I love that it's always the perfect temp, warm and not hot. They put extra parmesan in the cheese mix that gives it a sharpness that I love!"
Andrew Hebert, Executive Chef at TRADE: "Felcaro Pizzeria in Beacon Hill is a newly discovered pizza place for me. Hand-tossed, chewy, crunchy dough and crust!"
Tim Maslow, Executive Chef/Owner at Ribelle and Executive Chef at Strip-T's: "Max and Leo's in Newton. Best 'piZza' in boston."
Jared Forman, Chef de Cuisine at Strip-T's: "In Boston, Max and Leo's in Newton is my go-to. The pizza is super tasty, and there is parking! I hear great things about Area Four and others for the fancy stuff, but I don't crave those. I have not found anything to satisfy my need for just a slice, so I choose to avoid it and wait for a trip back home [to New York]. There has been a "house of pizza" culture for so long, I don't know if it can ever change for me. Chef-driven pizza is so different as well. Boston is a beautiful city, and New England has opened my eyes to many, many things. But with pizza, I am hard to please. Don't hate me."
Steve Bowman, Co-Owner of Fairsted Kitchen: "I can't get enough of the Sicilian slices at Galleria Umberto in the North End. Though many people turn their noses up at Sicilian pies for one of the thin crust varieties, you just can't beat the transition of crispy, oily bottom crust to doughy sweet mid crust, all draped in tangy sauce and a thin veneer of gooey cheese that Umberto's dishes out to the lunchtime hordes. All that for less than $1.50 a pop too! Add a beautiful arancini (fried risotto balls stuffed with ground beef, peas, and mozzarella) and a paper cup of house wine poured straight from the jug, and you're looking at the best five dollar lunch I know.
But since Umberto's is lunch only, and often out of slices as early as 2 p.m., you gotta have a night time slice. And there's none better than at A4 Pizza, on Somerville Ave. outside of Union Square. I can roll in after midnight and wash away a long shift with a rotating selection of inventive slices on their gorgeously airy, blistered, and crisp/tender crust. Throw in craft beer, whiskey, and a little retro Mario and it's almost more comfortable than home, which happily for me is only a block away."
John DeSimone, Co-Owner of MAST' (coming soon): "Bricco in the North End really does it right. Great thin Neapolitan style, quality ingredients you can taste. My favorite is a simple Margherita, Buffalo Mozzarella, good tomatoes, great olive oil and fresh basil. I am also partial to Mama Lisa's pizza in Somerville. I grew up on this pizza since I was born. This was one of the few places my parents, also Italian immigrants, ordered pizza from as they were considered paesani from the neighborhood. It was also one of my first places of employment through high school and college. Two Sicilian immigrants, Vinny and Vito Gerardi, started this Somerville institution in the 1960s, and it's still there 'til this day. All bias aside, it is really good pizza. Everything is made by hand, dough is aged to create a nice flavor, the sauce is fresh, the cheese is good quality, and it's all baked in the original Bakers Pride brick oven that I believe gives it its characteristic flavor and texture."
Anthony DePinto, Co-Owner of MAST' (coming soon): "Crumbled sausage at the original Regina in the North End."
Michael Scelfo, Chef/Owner of Alden & Harlow: "I'm kind of old school, classic. I like the classic Regina in the North End. I was born in New York, and I grew up on that type of pizza, so I would say that's probably my go-to. That's one of those things where you're like, 'I've gotta go get a Regina pie in the North End.' That's probably my favorite right now.
Chris Coombs, Executive Chef/Owner of Boston Chops, Deuxave, and dbar: "The type of pizza that I personally like usually depends on how much alcohol I've had. If I've had a bit to drink, I like greasy, grimy, terrible pizza that just has a lot of fatty things on it. But if, for example, I'm going for lunch and I hadn't had anything to drink — I personally think that Coppa has a really nice pizza. I think as far as the South End goes, Jamie's really the king of pizza over there, and that's not just because he puts fantastic things on top of it. He's got a great oven, the crust recipe's great, sauce is dope, cheese is good. It's the total package. But I've never really met a pizza that I didn't like, so for me, there are varying degrees of good. 'Pizza' and 'bad' don't ever go in the same sentence for me.
And what did I have for lunch today? There was this new place...Dirty Water Dough Co. I had never had that. I had it for lunch today, and it was probably the best delivery pizza I've had in Boston — ever. I was super impressed by that today. It was really awesome. It's really good pizza, and honestly it had probably traveled 10 minutes to get here, and it was still super impressive by the time it got here. So I'll be excited to get that again."
James DiSabatino, Founder/CEO of Roxy's Grilled Cheese: "Where to start? I think A4 is Boston's Rookie of the Year, for sure. I've had it several times, but always cold. And it's always fucking incredible. I've had a love affair with Emma's since I was in college; in fact, it used to be my de-facto first date spot. I love it just as much as the first time I visited. I grew up in Revere, so I was always at Santarpio's as a kid, but I think the cherry peppers and bread might be the secret that makes that place so great. But above all pizzas, if I could take one into my coffin when I die — well, that would be a cheese pizza from Bianchi's on Revere Beach."
Nick Varano, Owner of the Varano Group: "For slices, there is only one place, Galleria Umberto on Hanover Street. For late night, Bricco's Neapolitan Margarita Pizza is the closest thing to Naples."
Anthony Allen, Co-Owner of OTTO: "I'll drive to Al Forno (Providence RI) right now. And then hit Pepe's (New Haven)."
Cara Chigazola-Tobin, Chef de Cuisine at Oleana: "Right now I am crazy about A4 Pizza in Somerville. I love their fennel sausage pizza with banana peppers or the their mushroom pizza with fried eggs on it. The breakfast pizza at Area Four is also a favorite of mine. I make everyone I know go there at least once to have it. It's awesome."
Joe Cassinelli, Owner of Posto and Painted Burro: "I like Pini's in Somerville; I usually order Pini's pizza. But my son really likes our pizza; he's two. He loves our marinara. Our pizza is really easy to eat — Neapolitan pizza is great for kids. I'm kind of hoping that the old thing is true — they say that the first pizza you have as a child is what you know to be pizza the rest of your life. Hoping he grows up with Neapolitan pizza. I mean, outside of eating pizza anywhere else, I do make different styles of pizza at home. We make Sicilian-style pizza at home, we do grilled pizza in the summer at home. But for the most part we don't order out a lot of pizza."
· All coverage of Pizza Week on Eater [~EBOS~]