Take a walk down Hanover Street and you might notice a slim doorway with the words “Galleria Umberto Rosticceria” written above it, alongside a Coca-Cola logo. It’s likely that a steel shutter has already been pulled over the entrance, but if you’ve arrived during its narrow window of afternoon operating hours you’re in for a treat. Inside is a homey space that looks unchanged since 1979, complete with a kitschy wall mural depicting Roman gladiatorial combat. Approach the counter (and make sure you have cash) to score one of the criminally underpriced Sicilian slices, famed for their cheesy, bubbly, caramelized surfaces and lightly charred crust. Save room—or bring a friend—to partake in the monster-sized arancini while you’re at it.
The city famous for tea parties knows how to throw a pizza party, too.
Area Four boasts two locations: the original, fittingly minimalist pizza lab with an attached cafe in cerebral Kendall Square and a retro-inspired dining room with a small plates menu in the South End’s Troy building. Whichever the locale, the undisputed star is A4’s perfectly charred, extra-chewy crust, thanks to a dough that ferments for over 30 hours. And while you can’t go wrong with an (excellent) Margherita, specialty pies like Wellfleet Cherrystone Clam & Bacon and the Carnivore (soppressata, sausage, and bacon) steal the show.
Cash-only East Boston institution Santarpio’s has been serving signature, unclassifiable pies since 1903. Something of a Neapolitan/New York mash-up, each has a generous allotment of cheese and oh-so-satisfying grease. For a classic experience get the Italian Cheese and Garlic, but if you’re feeling bold, order “The Works,” which comes with every topping on the menu. Regardless of your order, you’ll get a slice of local character: Expect brisk service that’s half-rude, half-charming.
At Picco in the South End, pies come with a healthy dose of char; a website disclaimer implores patrons to request lightly cooked pizzas if artfully burnt crusts aren’t to their liking. Specialty versions like the Alsatian (onions, shallots, garlic, crème fraîche, bacon, and Gruyère) come with a formidable slate of fixings, while an ample custom toppings list allows make-your-own enthusiasts to experiment with glee. A large patio area makes for great Tremont Street people watching in the warmer months—just expect the occasional look of pizza envy from passersby.
Regina Pizzeria is the closest thing Boston has to a true homegrown pizza chain. This brick-oven beauty opened its original North End location in 1926 and now has six locations in Boston that range from full service sit-downs to by-the-slice counter service. As for the pizza itself, aged whole-milk mozzarella imparts to each slice a hearty, savory flavor, while the distinctive red sauce has just the right kick of spice.