The debate over whether or not Boston’s pizza scene is a contender for the country’s best has historically received the short end of the stick, especially when compared with the likes of New York and New Haven. However, the city is experiencing a pizza revolution led by a recent wave of wood-fired obsessives marking Boston as a hot spot (no pun intended) for some of America’s best pies. Pair this with the city’s classic pizzerias that have been around for decades, and Boston is emerging as a world-class pizza destination. Here are some of the spots that showcase the best of today’s Boston-area pizza.Read More
Where to Eat Excellent Pizza Around Boston
From old-school classics to fancy wood-fired pies
If you’re looking for a switch-up from the standard thin-crust pizzas that are sprinkled all over Boston, Mortadella Head serves up a Roman-style, thick-crust pizza loaded with toppings. Slices are the way to go at Mortadella Head — order the chef’s special, which includes a variety of six Roman slices that serve as an excellent sampler of the menu. Try the Commendatore with porchetta, broccoli rabe, roasted peppers, and grated pecorino.
Pizzaiolo Juan G. Perez — better known by his popular Instagram handle, @juangpizza — has been honing in on his craft since he started out in the business in 2009. As the executive chef of Neopolitan-style pizzeria Posto in Davis Square, Perez oversees an acclaimed menu that balances traditional Neopolitan pizza-making with innovative twists, like the “Almondine,” topped with toasted almonds, ricotta, mozzarella, fontina, and chili-infused honey. The approach has plenty of fans: Posto and Perez were recently recognized by one of the world’s most prestigious pizza reviews, the Italian-run 50TopPizza, which praised the restaurant as “the right place to eat a classic Neapolitan pizza.”
Ciao Pizza and Pasta
Ciao opened in Chelsea in 2015, and like its crust, has quickly risen to the top of Boston’s pizza echelon for outstanding wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizza. It’s a tiny storefront, but there’s a bit of counter seating inside and a few seats outdoors in warmer seasons. Try a Nutella pizza for dessert because why not?
Just look at those ‘roni cups. Source debuted in Harvard Square in late 2019, focusing on local sourcing (hence the name). Pizza is the main attraction on the gastropubby menu, with the pepperoni, garnished with caramelized red onions and vin cotto, claiming top billing on social media. But don’t stop there: Other excellent combinations include Tuscan kale with goat cheese, Rhode Island mushrooms, and hot honey.
Family-owned and operated since 1903 and serving pizza since 1933, Santarpio’s in East Boston is a time-tested landmark for pizza in Boston, and the few non-pizza items on the menu are must-tries, too. Get the lamb skewers, steak tips, and sausage made in-house, all served with hot cherry peppers and fresh bread as an unorthodox side for the main course pizza.
For better or worse, the Polcari family’s restaurant group has expanded significantly since the 1926 debut of Pizzeria Regina in the North End; these days, most locations are quick-service kiosks. But standing in line at the original full-service Thacher Street location is still an essential Boston pizza experience that has an irreplicable flavor from the hundred-year-old oven. Try the Giambotta pizza — topped with every traditional topping the restaurant offers — for a taste of Regina’s classic brick-oven pizza.
For fans of avant garde Neapolitan-style pies who have a hankering for a puffier crust, head to chef Michael Lombardi’s latest endeavor, Si Cara, in Cambridge. At this chic Central Square spot, Lombardi focuses on canotto-style pizza, a cousin to the Neapolitan with a showstopping, high-reaching crust that has gained recent popularity in Italy. Don’t miss the alla gricia with tender, piping-hot guanciale. Each pizza order comes with dipping sauces for the crust.
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For a true North End experience, head to this casual Hanover Street spot, which is only open for lunch every day except Sunday, and closes as soon as they sell out. The lines are long but move quickly for the Sicilian slices and arancini — and that’s almost entirely the menu, plus beer and wine and a few other food items. Cash only. In 2018, the James Beard Foundation proclaimed it an “American classic.”
Opened in 2013, this is surprisingly one of the North End’s only true Neapolitan-style pizza joints, and it has built a solid reputation for emphasizing the simplicity of ingredients that go into each of its pizzas. For instance, San Marzano tomatoes, good olive oil, mozzarella, and basil are all that go onto their fabulous margherita pie. Quattro also features a rotisserie menu that is not to be missed.
A North End staple. Ernesto’s has been around for generations and has stayed around thanks to the consistency of their pizza. Known for having the biggest slice in Boston, when a “slice” is ordered at Ernesto’s, customers are given the equivalent of two large slices — or a quarter of a whole pie. A fan-favorite is the genius pairing of ricotta with eggplant and broccoli, which contrasts nicely with the unctuous cheese.
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Perfectly embracing Boston’s wood-fired pizza renaissance, Area Four serves up beautiful pies with a heavily blistered crust that benefits from a 30-plus-hour ferment and a sourdough starter. Try the carnivore pizza, topped with big, spicy pieces of soppressata as well as sausage and bacon.
Max & Leo's
Max & Leo’s coal-fired pizzas cook within minutes around 900 degrees and come out with a markedly blistered crust; those who don’t love pizza cooked well-done should go elsewhere. Nachos are also coal-fired, and there are a variety of roasted wings available, plus salads, sandwiches, and more. There are a couple more locations in the area, but Newton is the original.
Hot off winning the “Best Pizza of 2023” designation at the Boston Pizza Festival, Newton’s da LaPosta has meticulously crafted pizzas that all Bostonians should try. Run by internationally recognized chef and pizzaiolo Mario LaPosta, the Boston-area pizzeria could keep up with any hole-in-the-wall favorite in Naples. LaPosta uses a naturally leavened sourdough that is made from a seven-year-old starter and a proprietary flour blend from Central Milling in Utah. Once the dough is mixed and rolled, LaPosta ferments it for at least eight to 12 hours. Try it out topped with a classic spread of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil, or a seasonal specialty like summer corn.
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Picco’s name is actually an acronym — Pizza and Ice Cream Company — and the popular South End restaurant does both things exceedingly well. Picco understands the importance and integrity of the dough. The pizza is a dream come true for bread lovers thanks to its prominent, puffy crust, which gets just the right amount of char.
Bardo's Bar Pizza
The South Shore’s famous bar pizza has taken South Boston by storm. Located inside the lively Castle Island Brewery, Bardo’s brings the crispy-edged deliciousness of bar pies to the neighborhood. Nothing says New England quite like an IPA from a Boston brewery and a pickle-covered bar pizza. (While not the first thing that comes to mind for a pizza topping, pickles are the norm for bar pies and should be experienced at least once.)
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Just down the block from the Cleveland Circle T stop, Pino’s Pizza is a hidden gem that Boston College students have frequented throughout its 61 years on Beacon Street. The sauce has a tangy bite, and the dough brings an ideal balance of chew and crunch. Pino’s has won awards, but wants none of the attention — they have the “10 commandments of Pino’s” printed on every menu emphasizing the commitment to quality over recognition and praise. Keep it simple and start with the cheese pizza for a true Pino’s experience.
This Newton newcomer — opened in 2021 — comes from a team with a deep Newton fanbase already, the same folks behind Sycamore, Buttonwood, and Little Big Diner. The love for Jinny’s wood-fired pizza is already catching up with its big siblings, thanks to a slow-fermented dough and a solid selection of both red and white pies. (Try anything topped with the incredible Ezzo pepperoni.)
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Pat’s is arguably Boston’s best option for a no-frills, casual Sunday pizza to order and enjoy while watching the Patriots (win, hopefully). A crisp bottom, cheese-to-sauce ratio that is tried and true, and just the right amount of crust to create an outstanding bite from start to finish. This is good pizza.