This has been the summer of my Pizza Quest. I have been trying pizza at as many places as possible, mostly here in the Merrimack Valley area but in other locations as well. I have looked for the best local pizza I can find. It has been a delicious (mostly) venture that I will continue in the coming months.
About pizza. Pizza is to die for. A good pizza is as good as food gets in this writer’s humble, yet completely uninformed opinion. First, it’s Italian. That could be enough, but there’s more. A well-equipped pizza satisfies every brick of the food pyramid: meat, grain, dairy, fruit/veggie, and who knows what else. And flexible? It can be eaten at any meal, hot or cold.
I really like my pizza. It is a rare pizza that I won’t eat at all. Sicilian, thin/thick crust, Greek, chain, Mom&Pop shop. The only kind I can’t abide is Chicago style. I’ve left an entire pizza virtually untouched at Pizzeria Ohno. Yes, I’ve had an authentic one in Chicago, too. No improvement. I think it’s what killed Capone.
The other that went in the trash after a couple of bites (more than the rest of my family dared) was from a local joint that will remain nameless, that has since closed and reopened elsewhere. (Not far enough away for my tastes.) I could handle the excess oil and gummy cheese, but the sauce on this beast was sweet! Sweet and pizza don’t mix unless you are going Hawaiian. (Not to my taste, but I tolerate eccentricities.)
Better to concentrate on the Good Stuff. Herewith, my three favorite pizzas in no particular order:
- Bertucci’s – Everything at this place is great, starting with the foundation: the bread. I could eat only their rolls and salad and leave content, but there’s always room for pizza this good. My preference is the basic Margherita, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
- Flatbread Company – Technically, this doesn’t qualify as genuine Neapolitan pizza, but I’m not a stickler for such things. It’s pizza and it’s great, truly unique. Like Bertucci’s, these are made by hand in view of the diner and cooked in a wood-fired oven. All the ingredients are fresh, organic, and locally grown. You can taste the difference.
- Brickyard Pizza and Burger Bar – This is the only non-chain in my top three. The restaurant itself is new, right in downtown Woburn, an area that has become a mecca of restaurants lately. The pizza here is superb, as are the burgers. For that reason, ordering can be very stressful. The pizza crust is perfect, and everything else goes perfectly with it.
- Papa Gino’s – Best large scale chain pizza (especially recommend the Rustic style).
- Stone Hearth – Another good small scale chain.
- Upper Crust – Various locations around Boston.
- Angelina’s – A fine independent shop in Lowell.
- Pizza Barn – Way up in Ossipee, NH, this is a local icon.
- Sal’s – You can’t get more pizza for your dollar than at Sal’s. Not the best, but good enough.
I’ll never stop searching, and neither should you, for the perfect slice of the perfect food!
Where’s your favorite pizza?