The 20 Best Places to Eat Pizza Right Now
Monster ovens. Persnickety artisanal toppings. Painstaking dough-prep techniques. Boston suddenly has one of the fastest-moving pizza scenes in the country. If you’re not a pizza snob now, you will be by the time you finish reading this.
This list was last updated in July 2018 to reflect closures of a few spots, and additional restaurants from a couple pizza pros.
WOOD; GAS; OFFERS DELIVERY; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
500 Technology Sq., Cambridge, 617-758-4444, Troy Boston, 264 East Berkeley St., South End, 857-317-4805, areafour.com.
Leave it to the control fr—er, mavens, at these sibling pizzerias to helm not one but two of our top spots. Their winning recipe includes a 14-year-old “starter”—the living, breathing amalgam of flour, yeast, and water that serious bakers nurture lovingly (and guard fiercely) in the back of the fridge, doling out smidgens per batch to jump-start flavor. Made under one roof and used at both places, the Neapolitan-American dough hybrid bakes into a wider, puffier cornicione (a.k.a. the rim), shot through with voluminous, crunchy bubbles. Crust hounds, take note.
OVEN DETAILS: Area Four Cambridge: Wood Stone (630º–680º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The clam and bacon, with hot pepper, parsley, and pecorino. Hands down the best bivalve take around.
GAS; OFFERS PIZZA BY THE SLICE
Armando’s Pizza & Subs
163 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-8275.
If this charming Huron Village throwback looks like it hasn’t changed a lick since Campania natives Armando and Dorothy Paolo opened it in 1971, peek again. Yup, good eye: Their daughter Rina is running the show now. Otherwise, the walls are still sheathed in plywood paneling, and the sole nod to décor is a smattering of framed Little League photos and trophies above the faded-red Formica booths. Also timeless: the New York–style thin-crust pizzas, undergirded by a firm, toasty crust; brightened with a remarkably zingy house-made marinara; and finished with a gooey layer of blended cheeses bolstered by salty Romano.
OVEN DETAILS: Two-deck Baker’s Pride (550º–650º).
MUST-TRY PIE: It doesn’t get much more classic than the pepperoni-mushroom.
DEEPER DISH: In 2010, the corner of Huron and Concord was named Armando Paolo Square to honor the generous steward of the neighborhood.
WOOD; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
11 Fan Pier Blvd., Boston, 617-421-4466, babbopizzeria.com.
As much as the notion of celebrity chef Mario Batali’s swooping into the provinces from New York City and depositing a brand extension at the Seaport gives us agita in principle, it’s hard to argue with the pies. Despite a few consistency problems out of the gate (doors opened in April), they’re already verging on superb. And they’re quick to the table, too: Thanks to the ferocious heat of the wood fire, Batali’s signature Neapolitan-Roman hybrids get the requisite crust char in less than two minutes.
OVEN DETAILS: Valoriani wood-fired (800º–1,000º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The meatball, a dreamy mash-up that pits bright tomato sauce and vinegary pickled chilies against rich, creamy fontina.
DEEPER DISH: Batali switched names midstream from Otto (his suite of pizzerias in Manhattan and Vegas) to avoid confusion with the Portland, Maine–based chain.
319 Western Ave., Cambridge, 617-576-6672, bastapastacambridge.com.
At first glance, everything about this modest Cambridge storefront—tucked inelegantly between a bodega and a barbershop—looks like your standard-issue House of Pizza. Even the boilerplate-sounding menu doesn’t give away the game. But what Reno and Altin Hoxhallari’s modest “trattoria” lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for in the consistency and execution of its Italian-style pizzas, which boast a sturdy, thin crust courtesy of the old-school stacked gas oven. The house-made sauce has a real piquancy, among the best we’ve had in Boston: an umami-laden blend of Alta Cucina tomatoes, fresh garlic, and basil. The cheese blend gets added complexity from provolone; the quality meats are sourced from Revere’s Bianco & Sons. Says Altin, “Sometimes the basic stuff just tastes way better than anything complicated.”
OVEN DETAILS: Blodgett stacked gas (550–650º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The Spicy Sausage Meat.
DEEPER DISH: Before opening Basta Pasta in 2005, Reno worked in high-profile kitchens including Bambara and Via Matta (RIP).
GAS; OFFERS DELIVERY; OFFERS PIZZA BY THE SLICE
322 Revere Beach Blvd., Revere, 781-284-9472.
Revere Beach is known for its boardwalk, aggressive gulls, and gritty Bruins banter, but you rarely hear about the pizza. That’s a shame, because Bianchi’s, a walk-up window on the beach for more than 65 years, slings exactly the kind of big-ass slices you want with a cooler of beer and a sunburn. The crust, sturdy but not stiff, supports a bright, simple sauce and an extra-cheese lover’s portion of a proprietary blend—enough that it crowds your fingers and slumps lavishly off the edges for the first hot bites.
OVEN DETAILS: Baker’s Pride brick (approximately 700º).
MUST-TRY PIE: If pepperoni’s your game, go for it. The thin, triple-stacked coins are curled at the edges and pack the kind of good, greasy heat that heartburn is made of.
DEEPER DISH: Bring your own toppings, and they’ll toss them on before baking.
WOOD; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
7 Moulton St., Charlestown, 617-337-5703, brewersfork.com.
A ROOM WITH A FLUE The gaping oven at Brewer’s Fork—a wood-fired masterpiece, walled with French clay and surrounded by a corrosion-resistant steel drum—is the restaurant’s lone cooking vessel and the darling of co-owner and self-proclaimed “pizza fanatic” John Paine. Thanks to the insulating qualities of the Terre Blanche stone, the flame never has to be extinguished. Paine’s American-style pies are characterized by a tangy (albeit slightly salty) sourdough base that progresses from floppy at the tip to dry, crisp, and bubbly charred at the substantial cornicione. The strategically modest temperature (a mere 700 degrees) allows for a slightly longer cooking time, resulting in a less soupy texture than Neapolitan purists must contend with. The red sauce is clean, the mozzarella is fresh, and the meaty toppings—Paine is an alum of Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions—are better than they need to be. —Elizabeth Bomze
OVEN DETAILS: Maine Wood Heat custom-built Le Panyol (700º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The Pea-zza, a white pie with thin-sliced ham, mozzarella, Wisconsin Gruyère, and shallots brightened by plump, sweet English peas.