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.
GAS; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
223 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-867-9300, mistralbistro.com.
HAUTE OFF THE GRILL What the hell is a nearly two-decade-old French fine-dining bistro doing on our list of must-try pizzerias? Don’t panic. To be fair, an embarrassing span of time had passed since even our old-timers had given Jamie Mammano’s stellar grilled pizzas a whirl. The verdict: better than ever. Just shy of cracker-thin yet tender enough to sink your teeth into, the rectilinear beauties take on such an assertively smoky char you’d swear they get face time with someone’s rigged-up charcoal Weber. For staunch modernists, the white cheese, whipped ricotta, hot pepper, sea salt, and arugula (pictured) is probably the most of-the-moment choice. Otherwise, embrace the 2005 of it all with the truffle-oil-laced beef tenderloin, thin swaths of rare steak laid across pillowy mounds of mashed potato. Because if you’re going to scarf pizza in a place with a wine cellar this good, smart money’s on the pie that pairs well with a statement red.
OVEN DETAILS: Montague Legend broiler “grill” (550º–600º).
MUST-TRY PIE: Beef tenderloin.
DEEPER DISH: Sister eatery Teatro, over by Emerson, makes grilled pies using the same recipe but with simpler toppings—a rock-star pretheater move.
GAS; OFFERS PIZZA BY THE SLICE
Panelli’s Pizza & Parm
Closed in 2015.
David Iknaian’s enormous slices aren’t for the faint of appetite. Every one of the New York–style pies clocks in at 20 inches. Properly thin (if a tad tough, according to some testers), the Panelli’s crust takes a back seat to the impeccably sourced toppings—sausage and smoked pork shoulder from Moody’s and Ezzo pepperoni. But his real genius may lie in the sophistication of the topping combinations, often classics rocketed into transcendence with a just-right tweak or two. Case in point: the Texas Craig, an otherwise familiar margherita ramped up with spicy Calabrian chili oil and gently fruity Aleppo pepper flakes.
OVEN DETAILS: Marsal & Sons gas deck (650º–680º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The Honey Hot Meat, a combo of soppressata, spicy sausage, and Mike’s Hot Honey, a cult-fave condiment from Brooklyn.
DEEPER DISH: On the Parm side of the equation: The deep-fried breaded cutlets (eggplant or chicken) served on Iggy’s ciabatta with house-made marinara are a sandwich junkie’s sleeper hit.
WOOD; OFFERS DELIVERY; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
345 Congress St., Boston, 617-345-0005, pastoralfortpoint.com.
VPN-certified pizzaiolo Todd Winer burns the pizza torch hot and bright in the red-tiled dome oven at this lively Fort Point restaurant, a pie-ous acolyte’s tribute to the City of the Sun (hint: Naples). True to the tenets of Neapolitan orthodoxy, the rounds of slightly sour, micro-blistered crust are rimmed with a pillowy lip that fades into a soft center—the soggy cross true believers must bear.
OVEN DETAILS: Marra Forni (900º).
MUST-TRY PIE: The one featuring tomato sauce laced with the creeper heat of spreadable ’nduja salami; the astringent brininess of Castelvetrano olives; slivered red onion; and dreamy, creamy burrata. (Oh, and it’s called the Diavolo, so eat it, don’t worship it.)
DEEPER DISH: The floor of Pastoral’s 3,600-pound imported Italian oven is made of volcanic rock and sand from Mount Vesuvius.
GAS; OFFERS DELIVERY; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
513 Tremont St., Boston, 617-927-0066, piccorestaurant.com.
Imagine, if you will, Natalie Portman as a pizza joint. There she’d be, holed up in some low-key yet upscale ’hood, striking an improbable balance of hip and cheery. In other words, she’d be Picco: the kind of place that’s retro pretty (Formica tables and leatherette banquettes) but substantive in craft. Which is where the beloved South End eatery’s crust comes in. Thanks to the mac-daddy gas oven, pies arrive with a few scrapes of burnished char on the blistered, cracker-ish outer edges, giving way to chewy, yeasty tenderness just before the tomato sauce rolls in. So what if there’s the occasional overdusting of flour on the undercarriage—even the most inspired performances have their foibles. (Three words: No Strings Attached.)
OVEN DETAILS: Woodstone gas (540º–700º).
MUST-TRY PIE: Ham, cherry pepper, roasted pineapple, and smoked mozzarella with a cilantro-enhanced tomato aioli.
DEEPER DISH: Picco stands for Pizza and Ice Cream Company. Skipping either is pure folly.
WOOD; SOLID BEER/WINE SELECTION
187 Elm St., Somerville, 617-625-0600, postoboston.com.
Getting Neapolitan right means focusing on quality, simplicity, and precision—which Posto chef-owner Joe Cassinelli musters with panache. From hand-pulled mozzarella to balanced, infallible topping combinations, his stellar pies stay consistently true to the old-world spirit. While the milky pools of fior di latte and combos like fennel-roasted pork, fontina, asiago, red onion, and oregano (the Porchetta) are undeniable wins, it’s the pared-down marinara pie that best showcases the elemental beauty of this style: the campfire smokiness of the pliant, leopard-spotted crust; the vibrancy of the crushed San Marzanos. A judicious sprinkle of garlic slivers and a fluttering of floral oregano add just enough complexity to the lacy veil of salty Parmesan and asiago, without up-ending the deftly finessed balance of delicate flavors.
OVEN DETAILS: Valoriani (approximately 900º).
MUST-TRY PIE: If every marinara pie were this good, it might dethrone the margherita as standard-bearer.
DEEPER DISH: Posto makes close to 50 pounds of fresh mozzarella daily.
GAS; OFFERS DELIVERY
11½ Thacher St., Boston, 617-227-0765, reginapizzeria.com.
Ever since the Polcari family set up the original North End shop in 1926, relentless hordes have crammed its booths. Devotees still come to answer cravings for crisp-crusted slices jacked up with ⅛-inch-thick layers of shredded mozz over lightly sprinkled pecorino and a fruity, concentrated tomato sauce—fired by sweaty, multigenerational gents shouting orders and jokes to fellow staffers over the din. Not every pie’s perfect; not every server nails your exact order. But the ability to hit eights this consistently, for this many decades, is a playbook plenty of other teams in town could stand to take a page from.
OVEN DETAILS: A brick oven built in 1888—Boston’s oldest, in fact. Originally coal-fired, now gas (700º–900º).
MUST-TRY PIE: Go old-school: plain cheese.
DEEPER DISH: Rumor has it that actress Renee Russo loves the pies so much she has them shipped to her California home.
WOOD; OFFERS DELIVERY
Food truck, restaurant at 1632 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-982-FIRE, stokedpizzaco.com
KEEPING THEIR PIES ON THE ROAD Even if food trucks aren’t quite the radical statement they were a few years ago, it’s still pretty damn rare to experience a true curbside culinary epiphany—in this case, wood-fired pizzas that rival any in the city—to the tune of a purring generator. When they’re not slinging stellar pies from the cramped confines of their mobile pizzeria, Stoked owners Scott Riebling and Toirm Miller putter around in the rented commissary space they use as a lab, indulging Riebling’s “mad scientist” (Miller’s words) perfectionism, particularly on the ingredients front. Hunting for a not-too-acidic whole peeled tomato, Riebling finally discovered one he liked in Naples—and now imports it by the pallet. But Stoked’s biggest score may be the hard red spring wheat flour Riebling found in North Dakota: a key component of the magic behind Stoked’s trademark airy, bubbly crust. —Christopher Hughes Note: In 2016, Miller and Riebling opened the first Stoked brick-and-mortar restaurant.
OVEN DETAILS: A Pavesi wood-fired beauty from Modena (700º–950º). “The oven only comes in one color, Ferrari red, which is pretty much the same color as our truck,” Riebling says.
MUST-TRY PIE: Buffalo chicken, with a sauce modeled after the upstate New York original.
FUN FACT: Riebling was the bassist for popular ’90s alt-pop band Letters to Cleo.