The Pizza Week 2014 survey series continues with the question of whether Massachusetts has a definitive style of pizza. (As it turns out, there are quite a few.) Here are some thoughts from chefs and restaurateurs around town.
Frank DePasquale, Owner of DePasquale Ventures: "Obviously, the Neapolitan pizza is the real way to make pizza, as defined by the Italians. The other types are just variations and different takes on the original Neapolitan way to make pizza."
Phil Frattaroli, Owner of Ducali: "I don't know if there's a definitive style; there are a lot of different influences that are prevalent in Massachusetts, and to a certain extent it depends where you grew up. (If you're from the South Shore, it's bar pizza; Greek in some of the MetroWest suburbs, etc.) If I were to pick one, I would say an Italian-American style pizza, similar to what's called New York-style, but a little thicker underneath and a lot less greasy. Somewhere between a Regina's and Santarpio's, along the lines of Pinocchio's in Cambridge and Pino's and [the defunct] Presto's in Cleveland Circle. Boston pizza cracks when you fold it in half and doesn't drip oil the way New York pizza does."
Dante de Magistris, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Restaurant dante and il Casale: "Many people are unclear of what Neapolitan pizza is. It takes a fat ass who eats pizza in Naples all day every day for at least a year like me to understand what Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be. Here in Massachusetts, just like anywhere in the world, people like what they are used to, people will love what is perfect — like a true, perfect Neapolitan pizza."
Rodney Murillo, Culinary Director of Davio's: "In Boston it's Greek pizza, due to the Greek culture and influence."
Carla and Christine Pallotta, Co-Owners of Nebo: "Neapolitan, but people's idea of this kind of pizza today is that is has a soft and chewy crust, but traditional Neo has a crispy crust like the places we remember from growing up in the North End (Regina and [the defunct] Circle Pizza)."
Will Gilson, Chef/Owner of Puritan & Co.: "I grew up on Greek-style "House of Pizza" pizza. It still holds a special place in my heart. But I actually secretly love bar pizza (Town Spa is the best I've had.)"
Josh Bhatti, Bowery Presents & The Sinclair: "Even though it's my least favorite style, I'd say bar pizza is the most definitive or unique style of pizza in Boston."
Dave Werthman, Bar Manager at The Sinclair: "I'm from the Midwest, so I don't count, but I was shocked at how bad the pizza was when I moved here. That Greek shit is garbage. Massachusetts seems to have Sicilian style covered though."
Sal Lupoli, President and CEO of Salvatore's Restaurants and Sal's Pizza: "I am not a huge fan of thick pizza, so that rules out a lot of styles. For me, I love a thin, crispy pizza cooked at a high temperature. That's just me."
Kosta Diamantopoulos, Co-Owner of All Star Pizza Bar and All Star Sandwich Bar: "I was born and bred in Lynn on the North Shore, so most of the pizza places are Greek places and thus serve Greek-style pan pizza. My dad's pizzeria was one of the very few that served thin crust Neapolitan pizza (he learned to cook in the North End with the Italian immigrants of the 60s and 70s.) I learned to love Neapolitan pizza at a young age and still prefer it over all other pizzas. I don't even know what a bar pizza is…"
Jeff Pond, Chef/Partner of A4 Pizza and Area Four: "The idea of what's ours — it kind of depends on my mood. Like, I grew up with Greek pizza; I grew up with brick oven pizza. Even frozen pizza wouldn't be as popular if it wasn't inherently good all by itself. Just the idea of, like, a bread with sauce and cheese...I mean, I've had bad pizza, but you still eat it in some capacity, you know? I think there's a few guys around here that are doing ok stuff. I think some days we do ok stuff, and I think some days we do better stuff. It's really who's paying attention and who's cooking."
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