Boston loves pizza: South Shore bar pizza, Neapolitan pizza, New Haven pizza, New York pizza, Detroit pizza, and more. 2019 was a busy time in the Boston-area pizza scene, and that’s going to continue into 2020. Here’s the rundown on pertinent pizza updates, recent and forthcoming.
Grilled Pizza From Rhode Island Hits Brookline This Weekend
Bar ‘Cino opens on January 17 (1032 Beacon St., Brookline), sibling to an older — but barely older — restaurant by the same name in Newport, Rhode Island. (That one opened in mid-2019.) Both are part of an employee-owned restaurant group that’s also behind Papa Razzi in Massachusetts and some other Rhode Island restaurants.
While the full-service restaurant isn’t exclusively a pizzeria — it will also be serving pasta dishes, seafood, pasta dishes with seafood, and more — its most notable menu section is probably the thin-crust grilled pizzas, which are cut at the table with scissors. The style recalls that of the pizza at Providence’s famous Al Forno, opened by a couple RISD alums back in 1980 and still going strong. (Pizza enthusiasts can dig deeper into the anatomy of that pizza here.)
As the Al Forno story goes, the pizza style stemmed from a mistaken memory of a fish supplier, who was chatting with co-owner George Germon about a recent trip to Italy. The supplier reportedly raved about a grilled pizza he ate in Florence; turns out it was actually made in a wood-burning oven, but Germon decided to do some experimentation, cooking pizza dough directly on grill grates. The rest is history.
Bar ‘Cino’s opening menu will reportedly include a margherita-style pizza with fresh tomato, basil, and scallions; another topped with Rhode Island mushrooms, fontina, parmesan, grilled chicories (crunchy greens), herbs, and a grape reduction called saba; and more.
While the Boston area has quite a few styles of pizza to explore, this ultra-thin-crust, directly grilled pizza might be the only one of its kind in the area. (Know of another? Hit up the Eater Boston tipline. The recently closed Cambridge 1 might have been the closest in style.)
The Boston-Area Detroit-Style Pizza Scene Has Grown a Bit More
Detroit-style pizza is one of the lesser-known pizza styles with a Boston-area presence. (That presence is minimal; 2019 newcomer Avenue, located in Somerville’s Ball Square, is the nearest place that specializes in it, although some other local spots have dabbled in it in recent years. There’s also a Detroit-style pizza purveyor out in Swampscott, Volo Craft Pizza, and New York’s Emmy Squared, which also features this style, is eyeing potential Boston expansion.)
But first — what is Detroit-style pizza? Here’s a primer, but in short, it’s a rectangular pan pizza with a thick, almost Sicilian-style dough and a bit of an upside-down construction, with toppings hitting the crust first, followed by cheese (ideally Wisconsin brick cheese), followed by sauce drizzled across the top. Any Western or Upstate New Yorkers reading this may recognize the construction, which is similar to that of the pizzas at O’Scugnizzo Pizzeria in Utica, New York, open since 1914.
The Boston area just got one more option: LongCross Bar and Kitchen at Medford’s Station Landing (501 Fellsway), from Greg Coughlin, owner of Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Somerville and Blackmoor Bar and Kitchen in Charlestown. Open for dinner daily, LongCross is serving three “Detroit deep-dish” pizzas made in a brick oven. The “old-school pepperoni” option includes “lots” of pepperoni, San Marzano tomato sauce, and a provolone and mozzarella cheese blend. Those looking for something fancier might order the “street” pizza with finnochiona salami, soppressata, and pepperoni, along with tomato sauce, Parmesan, arugula, and balsamic fig glaze. The simplest cheese option includes Monterey, smoked mozzarella, and ricotta, as well as chile flakes and black pepper.
Tiffani Faison’s Empire Is About to Grow Beyond Fenway
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Take it! Take another pizza my heart now, baby!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Tiffani Faison captured our hearts again, and brings her second concept to High Street with old school pizzas and grinders. Throwing it back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, Tenderoni’s will turn out personalized pies with crave-able crusts, loaded with cheese; expect the kind of pies that strike that magical note between crunchy and chewy, alongside a menu of grinders and salads. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photo Credit @briansamuelsphotography
Two of 2020’s anticipated pizza openings will be at soon-to-open food halls: Tenderoni’s at High Street Place (100 High St., downtown Boston) and Apizza at Hub Hall at the Hub on Causeway (80 Causeway St., West End, Boston). As previously reported, Tenderoni’s will be a 1970s-80s-style pizza-and-grinder shop from Fenway empire builder Tiffani Faison and her Big Heart Hospitality crew, while Apizza is coming from Mida’s Douglass Williams and will split its focus between Roman-style pizza and New Haven-style, albeit without the usual coal oven.
Nothing new to report on either front, except that High Street Place has shared a sneak peek at what Tenderoni’s pizza will look like. See above, and get ready for cheesy pan pies, including one topped with charred broccoli.
Other Anticipated Openings
Those aren’t the only pizza openings on the horizon. Get the full 2020 rundown in Eater Boston’s 2020 openings guide, including wood-fired pizza at Bianca in Chestnut Hill from the O Ya/Hojoko team; wood-fired “pizza artigianale” at Da LaPosta in Boston’s Fort Point from Mario LaPosta, formerly pizzaiolo at the now-closed Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca; non-wood-fired pizza from the usually wood-fired Stoked Pizza at a new Harvard Square location, opening around summer 2020; and more.
Recently opened: Coal-fired local pizza chain Max & Leo’s expanded to Chelmsford; Charlestown restaurant Monument expanded to Logan Airport’s Terminal B, serving pizza and more; and local catering company Cini’s opened a West End storefront with late-night mini arancini, pizza, and calzones.
Still to come: Stoked (see above); vegan pizzeria Double Zero from global vegan restaurateur Matthew Kenney; and a Watertown location of New Haven’s famous (and now rapidly expanding) Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. The aforementioned Emmy Squared could also expand here eventually from New York.
Harvard Square’s Cambridge 1, which had been open nearly two decades, closed in late 2019 at 27 Church St. (Note: Gift cards can be redeemed at sister restaurant Miracle of Science near MIT.) Quincy pizzeria Angelo’s Coal Fired Pizza (1657 Hancock St.) also closed in late 2019, having been open for five years.
2019: A Year in Review (and Pizza)
Eater Boston ended 2019 with a survey of local food writers on a variety of food-related topics, and pizza made a solid showing. The North End’s Galleria Umberto was the site of one writer’s best meal of the year; another writer dubbed Somerville’s Union Square one of the hottest dining neighborhoods of the year, thanks in part to the opening of T&B Pizza; the aforementioned Avenue in Somerville got a nod as a best newcomer of the year; and several pizzerias popped up among the writers’ top standbys of the year — Union Park Pizza in the South End, Pastoral in Fort Point, Hot Box in Somerville, and Newtowne Grille in Cambridge.
Plus, the Eater Boston team gave a couple pizzas shout-outs in a roundup of favorite dishes of 2019 (Avenue and Galleria Umberto) and a couple more in a roundup of 2019 delivery and takeout standbys (Newtowne Grille and Armando’s).
Jumbo Slices in the Wild
This is not new news, merely an alert for those who — like the Eater Boston team until recently — were unaware: Florina Pizzeria, which opened a few years back on Beacon Hill (16 Derne St.), serves a solid New York-style slice, but not just any slice. A huge slice. Taking a page out of the Ernesto’s playbook, Florina cuts a slice that’s more like a quarter of a pizza.
Boston may never have DC-style jumbo slices, but that’s probably for the best. Slice shops like Ernesto’s and Florina can serve enormous slices without being tossed into the drunken, late-night-only category; they each serve slices worthy of sober, daytime eating.
Got any additional Boston-area pizza intel that should be on Eater Boston’s radar? The tipline is waiting to hear from you.