Food & Drink

Where to Get the Absolute Best Pizza in Boston

Christina Ng Published On 09/05/2013 Published On 09/05/2013
Pizza
Galleria Umberto | Sonya Highfield/Thrillist

No matter how many restaurants open in Boston, all we really want is a hot, cheesy slice of pizza. (OK, and maybe some steak and beer, too.) But above them all, pizza rules. Luckily for us, this city has some great pies being offered in nearly every single neighborhood. Whether we're looking to the crust type or pizza shape to satisfy our craving, there's definitely no issue finding a good slice in Boston. Having said that, these are the best.

Courtesy of Picco

Best crust

Picco

Address and Info

South End

Picco's crust is the best in town for one main reason: it's not too thick, and not too thin. This is the greatest spot on Tremont Street to get your slice of bubbly, crusted pizza alongside some craft beer (and even ice cream). It's somehow managed to perfect the crust of every pie so that it's substantial, yet still light, airy, and crispy. We don't know how they do it, but really, that's not our job. We're just there to indulge.

OTTO

Best chain pizzeria

OTTO Pizza

Address and Info

Harvard Square (& other locations)

This Portland-based transplant has made its way across Boston, cleverly appearing first in college spots and then expanding into the ‘burbs (hang tight, East Arlington, it's coming). The chain is known for its unique toppings: the mashed potato, bacon, and scallion pizza is a favorite, but you should really try the vegetarian butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberry.

Best pizza for the lactose intolerant

Babbo

Address and Info

Seaport

If you've got a severe aversion to cow's milk, Babbo's goat cheese pizza with pistachio, red onion, and truffle honey will surprisingly hit it out of the park. The pies are all made with organic wheat flour (100%!) and California tomatoes. It's located in the Seaport district of town, making it a perfect draw for the business crowd during the workweek. But your best bet is to stop by on the weekends, as it's usually pretty open.

Dave Baldwin/Thrillist

Best old-school pizzeria

Santarpio’s Pizza

Address and Info

East Boston

Santarpio's has been around since 1903, so when we say “old-school,” we mean it. You can throw artisanal out the door, because what you get here is your classic, crunchy, cornmeal-dusted crust, a sweet, plummy tomato sauce, and traditional toppings like Italian mozzarella, onions, peppers, mushroom, and sausage. It's a real pizza parlor-lover's pizza parlor.

Best thin crust

Emma’s

Address and Info

Cambridge

This is not your average Neapolitan thin crust. The crusts at Emma’s are almost like crackers, making it a great choice for anyone who likes a good crunch with their pies. The menu is full of classic favorites, like The Click & Clack (artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, sauce, smoked mozzarella) or The Kendall (roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, rosemary sauce, mozzarella). But really, there are over 25 pizzas available -- not including the build-your-own choices -- so you'll have to take a good look at what's offered.

Dave Baldwin/Thrillist

Most affordable pizza

Ernesto’s

Address and Info

North End (& Somerville)

Ernesto’s is known throughout Boston’s North End for its gigantic 18in pies, and for the fact that patrons get a real deal for their dollar (an 18in margherita sells for just $16). For those ordering by the slice, a piece of cheese pizza sells for $4... which, OK, isn't terribly cheap. But when you realize each slice is a quarter of the 18in extra-large pizza, the math works out.

Best pizza with a side of char

Max and Leo’s

Address and Info

Newton (& Fenway)

When you cook in a 900-degree coal-fired oven, you can expect a little bit of char... which definitely isn't bad thing, especially when you accompany that with a thin, fluffy crust and toppings like pepperoncini, sopressata, and mortadella. If you like a crunchy pie, Max and Leo's is your stop.

Sonya Highfield Photography

Best Sicilian slice

Galleria Umberto

Address and Info

North End

The Sicilian at Galleria Umberto is great for three reasons: it's cheesy, the crust is t.h.i.c.k., and it has the perfect amount of chew for those of you who are tired of thin crust. But a warning: make sure you get there early. The shop shuts down once all the pies are sold.

Best restaurant pizza

The Salty Pig

Address and Info

Back Bay

Charcuterie may be The Salty Pig’s forte, but when this place started putting its house-made pig parts, sausages, and prosciutto on dough and cooking it in a brick-fired oven, a new favorite was created. This place serves up one incredibly unique pizza that's quickly become a local must-try. Even if you're not from the area, you should stop by and test it out.

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Christina is a Boston-based food & recipes editor. She's one of those annoying girls who has to take a picture of everything she eats. When she's not wreaking havoc in the kitchen or taking pictures of food, she's out visiting her favorite open-air markets. If you’re interested in following her crazy adventures or want to see what she's cooking up, check out her website, EastMeetsKitchen.com.

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1. Picco 513 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116 (Back Bay)

Picco's is a casual Italian-fusion spot that slings tasty appetizers and mains -- from tomato bruschetta to fish tacos with creme fraiche -- but the real star here is the charred pizzas. The crust finds a happy medium between not too thick and not too thin, slightly bubbly, airy, and crispy. It also offers craft beer and homemade ice cream which go perfectly with any meal.

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2. OTTO 1432 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Harvard Square)

This Portland-based transplant has made its way across Boston, to Harvard Square. The pizza chain is known for its unique toppings like mashed potatoes and bacon. We suggest the scallion pizza, however, the vegetarian butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberry is also a fan favorite.

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3. Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca 11 Fan Pier Boulevard, Boston, MA 02210

Babbo Pizzeria, brought to us by the famous Mario Batali, features signatures pizza and pasta dishes, along with a cheese list full of locally made cheeses. It's located in the Seaport district of town, and all the pies are made with organic wheat flour (100%!) and California tomatoes. A fan favorite is Babbo's goat cheese pizza with pistachios, red onions, and truffle honey.

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4. Santarpio's Pizza 111 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128 (East Boston)

Santarpio's Pizza has been around since 1903, so when we say “old-school,” we mean it. Much to the dismay of certain Bostonians, Santarpio’s is known primarily for its New York-style pizza, which is served with heaps of melted “Italian cheese” and can be customized to your taste buds’ content with vegetable and meat toppings. But Santarpio’s isn’t a one-hit wonder; it also offers skewers of lamb, steak tips, and sausage barbecued to savory and crispy perfection. The East Boston location is cash-only, so spare yourself a Santarpio scolding delivered from one of the notoriously cranky servers and head to the ATM beforehand.

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5. Emma's Pizza 40 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Kendall Square)

You won't find your average thin-crust Neapolitan pizza at Emma's. Instead, you'll find a cracker-meets-flatbread-like crust that's more crunchy than chewy, and nontraditional pies like The Kendall (roasted red peppers and caramelized onions), The People's Republic (bacon and scallions), and the Greek-inspired Middle East (kalamata and feta). The cozy Kendall Square spot has been around since the '60s, and though there's often a wait on weekend nights, you can easily kill time with a walk around the block and a glass of red wine.

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6. Ernesto's Pizza 69 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113 (North End)

Ernesto’s is known throughout Boston’s North End for its gigantic super-sized18in pies and is often argued to be one of the best in Boston. This casual and quick little nook has garnered a legion loyal fans of for its expert pizza crust and varied range of delicious toppings.

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7. Max and Leo's Artisan Pizza 325 Washington St, Newton, MA 02458 (Newton)

Max and Leo's is a tiny pizza spot in Newton that makes gourmet artisan pies baked in a 900-degree coal-fired oven. The perfect amount of sauce and just the right fluffy crisp in the crust, plus great toppings like pepperoncini, soppressata, and mortadella keeps patrons always coming back for more.

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8. Galleria Umberto 289 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113 (North End)

Galleria Umberto is worth the trek to the North End. The pizza cash-only spot has been a neighborhood staple for awhile, serving Sicilian-style pizza and other Italian eats. The Sicilian pizza, in particular, is great for three reasons: it's cheesy, the crust is thick, and it has the perfect amount of chew for those of you who are tired of thin crust. However, we suggest going earlier rather than later because the shop shuts down once all the pies are sold.

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9. The Salty Pig 130 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116 (Back Bay)

As the name implies, this South End spot is big into pork-centric cured meats. With local charcuterie, artisanal cheese selections, and stone-grilled pizza pies, the Salty Pig is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. An Old World wine list and quirkily named cocktail menu put the finishing touches on the bold flavors that abound here, and the doodle-decorated chalkboard walls make for a decidedly fun ambience.

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