There is an endless supply of great food in the world. But deep down, we all know that pizza is the best thing humans have ever put in their mouths. You can find it everywhere, no one dislikes it, and 95% of the US population would say it’s their favorite food. If aliens ever come down and say, “Take me to your leader and give me some lunch,” we’d fire up the brick oven and send them to David Ortiz’s house.
But not all pizza is created equal. That’s why we spent months trudging around Boston, trying every combination of dough, tomato sauce, and cheese we could find. We’re now coming to grips with the fact that we’ll smell like oregano for the next two years, but that’s a small price to pay for this list: the 15 best pizza places in Boston.
Often, it’s impossible for a single bite of anything to live up to its reputation. With respect to the iconic Santarpio’s, you might be initially disappointed when you take that first bite and find that fairies don’t immediately start dancing in your mouth. But here’s the thing: about ten minutes later, you’ll look down and see that, whoops, you ate that entire pizza by yourself. The thin cornmeal crust sags in the middle and gets crispier as you move to the slightly charred edges, the sauce is just a little bit garlicky, and the result is near-perfect pizza.
No matter what kind of pizza you get at the original Regina in the North End, it kind of tastes like sweet Italian sausage. We suspect that has something to do with the fact that they’re all made in an oven that’s been around since men unironically wore mutton chops (1883). That means that over a century’s worth of pizzas have left their mark on the coals. It’s like a metaphor for human advancement or something, only it’s edible and goes great with a pitcher of beer. And just as a reminder (we say this every time we mention Regina): only go to the North End location. All the other Regina outposts are a waste of your time and money.
Pizza and beer is one of the greatest combinations ever to exist, right up there with sunshine and a blue sky, getting stoned and listening to Zeppelin, and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. And Brewer’s Fork in Charlestown is unquestionably Boston’s best place to enjoy it. The craft beer selection at this little cement box of a bar is outstanding and the pizza is phenomenal. It’s wood-fired, it folds for optimal face-stuffing, and it’s good enough that you’ll eat one all by yourself and order another (they’re manageably-sized for one person, making that only moderately socially unacceptable). If it’s your first time, start with the O.G. that’s topped with garlic and whole oregano leaves.
If you like your pies well done, head to Picco in the South End. The crust here is so charred you might think it came out of a Kingsford bag. The result is a really crispy crust that you’d gladly eat like a cracker, but it just so happens to come topped with well-balanced tomato sauce and cheese. It’s also got some nice sidewalk tables when the weather’s nice, so keep that in mind.
The dough at Area Four is fermented for 36 hours. In terms of actual science, we have no idea what that does. In terms of how it tastes in our mouths, we know it’s f@cking awesome. Apparently, fermentation is the pizza equivalent of beauty rest, and it works, resulting in a big, puffy crust that tastes a little like sourdough bread. As an added bonus, the South End location serves brunch on Sundays, when you can get a pie topped with bacon, eggs, potatoes, and banana pepper relish.
There are two different kinds of pies at T&B: round Neapolitan style, and thick, square Roman pies. Both are good, but the dough on the Roman pies is particularly outstanding. If it was used to make a bologna sandwich with and peanut butter and twigs, you’d love that sandwich. They have a lot of interesting toppings like beef cheek, pork shoulder, and blue cheese, but we recommend keeping things simple. Get the burrata pie and just enjoy that crust.
There’s nothing flashy about the pizza at this Washington Square spot (unless you consider using hot honey as a topping flashy, but we just consider that awesome). It’s just really, really good. The crust is light and airy without losing flavor, so you could eat a whole pie by yourself if you want to. And you can add that hot honey to any of wood-fired pies, or order the one that comes topped with it along with bacon, peppers, garlic, and ricotta.
Salty Pig prides itself on its selection of charcuterie and section of the menu called “round outs” that features random things like smoked shallot marmalade. So naturally, some of the round outs make their way onto the pizza, including mustard, duck confit, figs, and whatever pale ale caramel is. But this isn’t just a place that gets by on gimmicks, the thin crust pizza is wood-grilled and would be good even if it didn’t have so much as cheese on it. We recommend starting with the quattro formaggi, which comes with potato, garlic, and chili.
Being a tiny, brick-walled spot with sidewalk tables in the South End, Coppa is usually the first place we recommend when anyone asks us where to go to have a bowl of pasta, nurse a glass of wine, and pretend to be a newly-divorced woman on a journey of self-discovery and sexual awakening in Italy. But you can do that with the pizza just as well as with the bolognese. We almost always go the red sauce route, but the soppressata pie with burrata, dry-aged salami, and chili is one of our favorite white pies in the city.
The pies at Umberto, a counter-service slice joint on Hanover that’s only open for lunch, are of the thick, square Sicilian variety. All too often, a so-called Sicilian slice just tastes like cheese and tomato sauce on top of a bagel. But that’s not the case here, where the crust is surprisingly light and airy. If that’s not enough of a reason for you to go, you should also know that the slices are all under $2, making it the cheapest option on this list.
Ciao Pizza & Pasta
Ciao wins the award for best Boston pizza place you probably haven’t heard about, owing to the fact that it’s hidden in the shadow of the Tobin Bridge in Chelsea. If this place were in the North End, though, there would be a line of golf-shirt-wearing tourists from Ohio outside it every day at noon. The crust is chewy and soft, it comes out of the wood-fired oven really quickly, and there’s a nice little side patio where you can eat it.
When it comes to North End Pizza, there’s Regina, Umberto, and approximately 86 other places that are all pretty good and hard to distinguish from each other. But if you can’t get into Regina because there’s a line of people practicing Boston accents on the sidewalk, and you want something a little nicer than the counter-service at Umberto, head to Ducali. This place is basically a pizza-centric bar, and a great place to keep in mind for any pre-Garden meals. It makes a great, traditional margherita with an airy crust, but what you really need to try here is the aragosta with lobster and mascarpone.
The Seaport and Southie are generally left out of the Boston Pizza Olympics (though the super thin pies at Lincoln Tavern just missed the cut). But, fortunately, Pastoral in Forth Point does a pretty good job carrying the flag for them. The pizza here is crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and, refreshingly, a little on the light side, so you won’t need to take a two-hour nap after you finish a pie.
Posto kind of feels like Davis Square’s living room, a place where the whole neighborhood comes to relax and watch the game. And since there’s nothing better to eat in sweatpants on the couch than a good slice of pizza, Posto obliges with some really good pies with a puffy crust and toppings that range from standard stuff to roast apples or lemon arancini. This place also has a very good menu of pasta and other small plates, but no matter what, round out your order with a pie.
Armando's Pizza & Subs
One wall of Armando’s is dedicated to the Red Sox, and the other to the local little league team they sponsor. Hopefully those little leaguers know how good they have it, because this tiny slice joint is way better than Pizza Hut (though let’s be real: there probably isn’t a 12-year-old alive right now whose favorite food isn’t the stuffed Cheez-It pizza). What you’ll find here is the classic thin-crust stuff that New Yorkers are convinced doesn’t exist north of the George Washington Bridge. It’s crispy, greasy, foldable, and delicious, and if Sicilian is more your thing, they have good, cheesy square slices, too.