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It was nice out in Boston the other day so I went for a walk around Beacon Hill in Boston. I almost never walk around Beacon Hill because — other than checking out new pizza — I never have any reason to go there.
Beacon Hill is funny because it’s like this picturesque area of Boston that has the kind of look and feel to it that I imagine is conjured in the mind of non-Bostonians when they think of “Boston”: quaint old historic brick houses on small streets with brick sidewalks and olde time-y faux-gas lamp posts, etc.
Ironically enough, Beacon Hill is way too expensive for most Bostonians, so unless they work for rich people, they hardly ever go there. At least that’s my relationship with Beacon Hill. But enough about that.
My main reason for going to Beacon Hill this time was to check out the pizza at this place called Figs. The first impression I got of Figs when walking in was that it looked a little fancy. This wasn’t really a surprise, with it being on Beacon Hill and all. It’s kind of a small spot, which I actually like; it didn’t seem crowded or anything (at least not at lunch time on a Wednesday). As for music though, they were playing some kind of weird techno fusion, which isn’t exactly my taste.
Before I start talking about the actual pizza… a warning: when I took a sip of the Coke I ordered, it seemed obvious that the waitress had mistakenly given me Diet Coke. I had my friend Meryn confirm this fact just to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. I don’t usually care much about getting wrong stuff from restaurants, but I really just can’t hang with Diet Coke. So I got a replacement. It turns out that the problem wasn’t an error on the part of the waitress though… their fountain Coke mixture was just really bad. Either that or, contrary to their menu, they were serving Pepsi.
But enough about that.
The pizza itself was interesting. It was really long and cut in to squares, and they served it on an upside-down cookie sheet. It was much bigger than I expected, which made the $14 price tag more acceptable. Despite the semi-fancy setting and presentation though, the pizza wasn’t what I could describe as fancy.
Actually, other than the fact that it was cooked in a brick oven, the pizza was something you might expect to get from a regular slice joint. There wasn’t much basil to speak of, and the cheese was a pretty standard non-fresh mozzarella. It was even on the greasy side (not oil, but that kind of dark reddish grease that comes from shredded mozzarella). It wasn’t bad pizza by any means, but I was more impressed with their location and atmosphere.
Apparently, the restaurant is associated with a chef named Todd English. Unsurprisingly, I’ve never heard of him though, so that doesn’t really change my feelings about the pizza one way or the other.
I didn’t spend too much time looking over the rest of the menu, but they seemed to have some good stuff on there. This is probably a good place to go on a date if you want something a little fancy, but not ridiculous.
42 Charles St, Boston, MA
Despite its name, my stop for day 10 of Pizza Month is located in Boston.
I’d file this pie under college pizza. It’s almost exactly what you’d expect from a pizza shop that’s right next to Emerson College. It’s quick and dirty, but fills the void; almost the exact opposite of Teatro, which is right up the street. It could definitely be waaaay worse and still stay in business, especially considering the relative lack of many competitors in the immediate area.
It’s a good slice if you’re hungry, and don’t have lofty expectations or mind dining in the company of Emerson students.
For day 9 of Pizza Month, I checked out Bostone Pizza on Newbury St in Boston. There are actually way less pizza spots on Newbury and the surrounding area than you might think, and Bostone is one of the few non-chain options.
One of the unique aspects here is that they’re one of only a few pie shops in Boston that I know of who offer sicilian slices all the time. That doesn’t really sway me one way or the other because I’m not too into sicilian, but I’m sure it’s a bonus for some people.
Another thing that stuck in my head about Bostone is that they are obviously huge Red Sox fans. There were Red Sox balloons outside, some other decorations inside, and they had multiple TVs playing the game that was on at the time.
The general decoration motif was slightly on the fancier side, but nothing crazy. I’m guessing nitty-gritty slice shop probably wouldn’t do too well on Newbury St.
The pizza itself wasn’t especially memorable. It wasn’t bad at all, but not worth really getting too excited about. The bottom crust was on the crispy side, but the slice wasn’t super light and thin the way it often is with a crispy crust.
Minus points for lack of Coke. Root beer available however.
I’m a little bummed to hear that Bella Luna, the unofficial representative of Pizza for my neighborhood, is being forced to move from its current, epic location to a spot further out, in the Brewery Complex. To make matters worse, their sister organization, The Milky Way Lounge & Lanes, is expected to close altogether.
I admit that my experiences with Bella Luna’s pizza have varied widely from really good to curiously uneven to just acceptable, but it always bums me out to see an independent pizza maker forced into closing its doors due to monetary reasons.
Bella Luna is also one of those places that really takes pride in their pizza and – as funny as it might sound – their pizza’s role in the community. I can’t tell you how many free slices of Bella Luna I’ve eaten at various fundraisers, art shows, etc.
Bowling for free whilst eating pizza in JP is soon to be no more… bummer.
The day after pizza month ended, I continued with my pizza eating out of pure habit. Stopped at Pinnochio’s in Harvard Square which has always been a solid pizza option in that area. There are a few good pie spots in that part of Cambridge, but Pinnochio’s probably holds claim to the best quick ’n’ dirty slice joint within a few miles.
Pinnochio’s is one of only several places I know in Boston that have sicilian slices available regularly. Subsequently, if you want non-sicilian slices you might want to specify as such when ordering (I was once handed a piece of sicilian after asking simply “Can I have a slice?”).
I’m not a huge sicilian pizza fan, so I won’t bother commenting on that. However, I will say the thin slices are super good though. Unlike so many slice-joint-esque pizzas out there (ie, not fancy schmancy sit-down restaurant pizza), this pizza has a sane amount of cheese on it, which prevents it from drooling all over your face and/or getting a wet soggy bottom crust.
The inside is pretty small, so it’s almost always packed around lunch time, but there’s a nice park across JFK Street that makes for a good pizza-scarfing area as well.
I wish I had remembered to take a photo of the outside; it’s in this old brick building, kinda hidden down a side street. The general small-ness and hidden-ness makes it seem all the more legit for some reason… like you’re in on some exclusive secret or something. I guess I’m compromising that by posting this online.
PS: No Cokes, but plenty of bottled root beer.
So normally I’m not really one for unnecessarily fancy restaurants, but I walk past Teatro (on Tremont St, across from Boston Common) a lot and always wonder what their pie is like. By chance, I had about an hour to kill while waiting for a Fung Wah bus, so I figured I’d check it out for day 6 of Pizza Month.
The place is definitely the kind of place you feel weird because you’re not sure if you’re supposed to use a fork or not, but also – not surprisingly – the service was amazing. It was like they knew exactly when I wanted a refill on my Coke or when I wanted to get the check.
Unfortunately, the pizza didn’t really blow me away as much as I thought it would from such a fancy restaurant. It wasn’t bad (I at all of it), but it had a strange quesadilla quality to it. They used fresh moz’, which was really good, but there was also an under-coating of other cheeses that seemed to put the pizza overboard as far as cheesiness.
As a side note, I went for one of their desserts as well (a vanilla panna cotta thing with lemon sauce) and it was really good.
In conclusion, this is good place to go if you’re feeling a little bouj’ or want to get dressed up, but if your main mission is for supreme pizza, there are better spots where you won’t feel weird about wearing a hoodie.
Joseph’s (corner of Huntington and South Huntington in Boston) provided my dose of pie for day 5 of Pizza Month. Coincidentally, Joseph’s is where the whole the idea for Pizza Month was conceived last year.
This is one of my go-to spots for late night pizza; they’re open till 3 AM which is pretty rare for Boston. Consequently, making a trip to Jospeh’s in the wee hours can be a bit of an experience. Specifically, it seems to be a post-club hotspot for thugged out gangsters. I’ve definitely seen one drunken thug threaten to kill another drunken thug for cutting him in the line for slices.
But that was understandable, as Joseph makes a solid slice. It’s not good in the sense of cuisine or fine food, but more in the sense of “I’m hungry and I want to scarf some fucking pizza”. And it’s consistently good; I’ve never had a slice from Joseph’s that was questionable (even during the post-bar-closing rush).
As an extra bonus, there are some epic Native American themed posters all over the walls with airbrushed wolves, horses, etc. as well as some so-bad-they’re-good comedy posters, including one of a squirrel with gigantic balls which reads “Hello ladies”.
Got a pie delivered to my apartment in Jamaica Plain from Bella Luna for day 4 of Pizza Month.
Bella Luna and its sister organization, The Milky Way, are an institution of JP and offer one of the only places in the area to get pie in a slightly-fancier setting (ie, more of a restaurant and not just a quick and dirty slice shop).
Despite the implications of quality in relation to fanciness, I’m not the biggest Bella Luna fan. I’ve definitely had some good pie there, but it seems to be hit or miss. For instance, the pie I got delivered was all sloppy, soggy, and generally of mediocre tastiness. However, I’ve had pie at one of the many events they host with free pizza that was delicious.
At least the delivery was speedy (20-25 minutes between when I ordered and when the pie was in my mouth).
It was super nice out today, so I took a quick skate up Centre Street to Rizzo’s to fill my Pizza Month quota for the day.
Nothing special. The slice pie was barely warm, the first few bites had that weird sour-ish elementary school pizza taste, but the crust had a pretty nice soft consistency (even if it was a bit undercooked). Kinda weak spread as far as sauce and cheese coverage goes (see photo above).
Oh also, no Coke – only Pepsi (major point deduction in my book). Not even root beer, which is my go-to alternative when Pepsi is the only option. I settled on a ginger ale, which they gave me with a straw.
After a meeting in South Boston to discuss the design of the future Charles River Skatepark, a bunch of us went to a spot called Lucky’s Lounge for dinner. Naturally I got some pie to fill my Pizza Month quota for the day.
Lucky’s is a somewhat upscale bar / restaurant that I probably wouldn’t normally go out of my way to go to. There was a 3-piece jazz band playing Frank Sinatra covers, and our crew didn’t quite fit in with the crowd of 30-something upper-middle-class professionals sitting around us. The area it’s in (which we also happened to be in) is pretty barren as far as food goes though. Plus, going outside one’s comfort zone never hurts.
The pie was about in line with that description: on the fancy side, but not something I’d go out of my way for. The presence of tomatoes was more in the form of slices than sauce, which doesn’t really affect my feelings about it either way. The cheese was a good fresh moz’ though, which definitely made the Sinatra covers a bit more bearable.