The 20 Best Places to Eat Pizza Right Now
WOOD; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION; OFFERS DELIVERY
253 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-391-0902, coppaboston.com.
Not to be cynical about Coppa’s casual brilliance, but there are days we half-suspect Jamie Bissonnette doesn’t give a whit about pizza. That he simply woke up one morning with a yen to do small-plates Italian, figured a few wood-fired pies might not be bad for the mix, and then proceeded to casually knock them out of the effing park because…well, how else would you dabble? The gloriously char-pocked crust boasts a well-structured topography of air-pocket-y undulations that any full-time pizzeria would be proud of. But it’s the layering of toppings—in another stratosphere entirely—that remind you: Oh yeah, Michael Jordan usually plays hoops, right?
OVEN DETAILS: Wood-fired stone (600º–700º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The bone marrow, a hauntingly rich tableau of creamy mozzarella topped with thin swaths of roasted beef tongue, a scattering of fresh horseradish, and salty blobs of its musky namesake.
WOOD; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
45 Day St., Somerville, 617-776-0552, flatbreadcompany.com.
There are 10 Flatbread locations in New England, and the concept is the same across the board: oblong pies spun from all-natural everything and blasted in wood-fired ovens built on-site from granite, clay, straw, and ash. What sets the Somerville location apart—other than the local hot sauce available to every table—is that it’s set inside the old Sacco’s Bowl Haven. So while you munch on the long-cut slats—which aren’t particularly charred, but do boast springy chew, crackly edges, and smoky “hearth” flavor—you can try your luck at a few frames of classic New England candlepin.
OVEN DETAILS: Custom-built, with soapstone surface (800º–1,000º).
MUST-TRY PIE: Jay’s Heart, a classic tomato-cheese with garlic oil and herbs. Punch it up with a splash of Alex’s Ugly Hot Sauce.
DEEPER DISH: The full bar is fashioned from old bowling lanes.
GAS; OFFER DELIVERY; OFFERS PIZZA BY THE SLICE
Leone’s Sub & Pizza
292 Broadway, Somerville, 617-776-2511, leonessubandpizza.com.
With all due respect to Galleria Umberto, this Winter Hill dark horse currently puts out superior squares of Sicilian, a rarity in this round-pie town. It’s not the absence of 40-minute lines that gave Leone’s the edge, and it’s sure as hell not geographical convenience. But after multiple side-by-side comparisons, we found that the Somerville shop more consistently nailed the suite of textural contrasts so crucial to this style: the deeply burnished, pan-fried crisp of the undercarriage; the salty, savory frico tang of almost-burnt cheese around the edges. Both of which make the characteristic airy, cakey interior more than just, well, airy cake.
OVEN DETAILS: Blodgett gas with stone deck (550º).
MUST-TRY PIE: Cheese or pepperoni. Muster the chutzpah to demand a (two-edged) corner piece.
DEEPER DISH: The surprise on-air delivery during Chris Evans’s 2014 Good Morning America segment? You got it. C’mon, would Captain America steer you wrong?
352 Hanover St., Boston, 617-742-9600.
Like the minimalist, 18-seat space itself—with white subway tiles, Edison bulbs, and shelves of olive oil and canned Italian tomatoes—Locale’s focus is both modern and streamlined: enticingly charred Neapolitan pies, each bubbly and blanketed with imported Italian meats and as many local ingredients as possible. Hidden in plain sight of the hordes lined up outside Hanover Street’s red-sauce joints, Locale somehow continues to be one of the neighborhood’s better-kept secrets.
OVEN DETAILS: Marra Forni gas (kept at 675º–700º, but can reach 900º).
MUST-TRY PIE: Cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) with fresh mozzarella, fontina, ricotta, and Parm.
DEEPER DISH: “You gravitate toward what you love, which for me is pizza,” says owner Jennifer Pittore. Which meant closing her beloved restaurant, Sage, in 2009 to follow her passion.
320 Center St., Randolph, 781-963-3100, lynwoodcafe.com.
BAR PIE: A REGIONAL ORIGINAL When the lopsided metal plate hits the Formica of my table with a tinny cleck, I have to laugh out loud. It isn’t just the pizza: that glorious 10-inch-round masterpiece of butterfat and cheese so bubbling and hot, it should probably be served with a waiver form. No, it’s the improbable completeness of Lynwood Café’s throwback vibe. The wood paneling and pinball. The vintage Clydesdales festooning every last vacant surface—the dive-bar equivalent, it dawns on me only after five or six visits, of an over-cherubbed Back Bay Victorian.
Of course, the beloved Randolph institution has achieved legendary status less for décor than for its matchless rendition of “bar pizza,” an idiosyncratic style found throughout the region but especially prevalent in the South Shore suburbs. Despite the generic-sounding moniker, bar pie has pretty specific parameters, the most obvious being the deployment of tangy, high-fat cheddar in lieu of mozzarella. Then there’s the crust, which gets its trademark rich, biscuity consistency partly from the liberally oiled metal pans it’s cooked in, partly from all the exuded butterfat that soaks down past the layer of simple, unherbed tomato sauce and into the dough that’s practically frying in the pan. Oh, yeah: The cheese gets strewn so that it barrels up to—then beyond—the crust’s rim, subsuming it completely. In other words: a napkin’s worst nightmare. —Jolyon Helterman
OVEN DETAILS: Blodgett gas brick (approximately 600º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The plain cheese is flawless, but meatheads are handsomely rewarded with Fall River–sourced linguiça (smoked to order for the place) and house-ground “hamburg.”
CHARCOAL; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
Max and Leo’s
325 Washington St., Newton, 617-244-7200, 82 Lansdowne St., Fenway, Boston, 617 351-7001, maxandleos.com.
Let the New Haven expats queue up for Pepe’s when it opens in Chestnut Hill this fall. Until the crowds die down, we’ll be holding court on a barstool at this cozy Newton Corner haunt, which has been quietly slinging superlative coal-fired pies since opening in 2011. Cooked at a blistering 900 degrees in about two and a half minutes, the appropriately charred, long-fermented dough has good crunch and chew. Signature pies come with everything from smoked gouda and barbecue pork (from nearby Blue Ribbon) to pear and prosciutto with ricotta, basil, caramelized onions, and a drizzle of organic honey.
OVEN DETAILS: A coal-fired Earthstone oven that runs 24/7 (900º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The Margarita, with its bright, fresh-tasting tomato sauce, house-made mozzarella, and fragrant chiffonade of basil, was love at first bite.
DEEPER DISH: More coal-burnished pizza will be coming to the Hub, thanks to three planned Max and Leo’s outposts—two in Boston and one in Concord.