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Mar 21, 2007 08:09 AM

The King of All Pizzas...

I went to Regina's in the North End last night with a friend of mine who hadn't been there in years. We lucked out, getting parking about a block away (no Celts or Bruins games last night) and got in without having to wait.

Ordered two pies--a pepperoni and a meatball. Both were truly special, with a crust that bubbled a bit and was slightly burned on the bottom, a spicy tomato sauce that others can't seem to replicate, and greasy, gooey cheese that was messy but delicious.

On the way out, my buddy, who is a bit of a foodie himself, gave me his updated rankings for best pizza in New England: 1) Santarpio's; 2) Pepe's (New Haven); 3) Regina's. I probably put Pepe's and Regina's at #1 (a tie) and Santarp's at #3, but that changes from week to week.

Needless to say, it was a great way to spend a Tuesday evening, and it makes we want to go to Regina's more often (I typically only get there a few times a year).

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  1. Regina Pizza is magical and I do not think that anyone is as good as them and not Santarpios. I do not get why people like that place, it truly blows my mind. But as far as regina is concerned the crust is bubbly. wide and perfect. The tomato and cheese alone is great but then they slather it in olive oil before throwing into their original oven that is probably incredible well seasoned. The only bad thing is that every time I eat at Regina, I burn the roof of my mouth for days because I am too impatient to let the pizza cool. It's worth it!

    2 Replies
    1. re: hoplover

      I agree that Regina does a crust that is superior to Santarpio's, which I think doesn't have enough bubbles. Santarpio's crust is kind of a small-crumb, biscuit-y thing that doesn't hold up long before getting soggy. You have to eat it quickly, which is why I generally only order pizza at the bar there, where it gets from the oven to you faster. I do like Santarpio's charcoal-grilled lamb and sausage, however, and I think it gets the nod for atmosphere, too; you don't generally see a lot of tourists in there.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        MC's last point about Santarpio's is also one of the reasons I like going to Regina's on a weeknight. It has a very different, more relaxed feel without all the tourists there. The waitresses are much more pleasant on weeknights, too (whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate, I suppose).

    2. it's really a shame that the boston favorites don't have white clam pizza. that's what i like most about pepe's. i've had so many great pizzas of so many varieties, but regina's is certainly one of the best.

      1. I've eaten some memorable pizzas, but as a loyal Bostononian, I'm reluctant to promote Regina's or Santarpio's to outsiders as Boston's best. I've had Regina's three times, and each time thought it was good but not great. The slightly burned crust and conservative amount of greasy cheese and toppings prevent it from the major leagues. Santarpio's was about the same level. However, maybe it was the particular pizza I ordered. Can someone specify which pie is truly a standout. My vote for the king of all New England pizzas is The Special at Frank Pepe's in New Haven. Speaking of which, I've had some of the worst pizza at Pepe's also, such as their traditional tomato pizza. Their clam pizza is a real popular one, but I've had it twice and thought it was too salty and briny. So, my vote is for The Special.

        16 Replies
        1. re: NYA Joe

          I got to agree with you about recommending these place to out of towners. The last time I suggested Santarpio's to out of towners, they hated the pizza and ambiance there, and thought Regina's was just alright, but they raved about this place they found on their own in Newton called Sweet Tomato's which I've never been to.

          1. re: Infomaniac

            Sweet Tomatoes Pizza is wonderful! I like artichoke, pepperoni and chopped jalepano. They make a fresh uncooked pizza sauce. It's super thin and very tasty. Rumor has it that the owner of the upper crust worked for her for a time and then opened up his place which serves similiar combinations of pizza. I have not eaten at upper crust but I hear that it is good. The spend a fortune on advertising. Huge full page adds in boston mag and improper so he must be doing well. Both locations in Newton are great as far as sweet tomatoes is concerned.

            1. re: hoplover

              I'm friendly with the owner of Sweet Tomatoes parents..had drinks with her father last night..after dinner at O Ya (review to come). I've only been once and liked it a lot..just not too convenient for me.

              I'll pass along the nice comments.

              I go back and forth between Regina's and Santarpios..Regina's is easier to get to..Santarpios is a regular cab stop for takeout if I fly into Logan early enough. Overall, I think Regina's is better n a consistent basis..but I've had some great pizzas at Santarpios too.

              1. re: hoplover

                I guess I have to get myself over to Sweet Tomatoes. Sounds like my out of town friends found a good spot.

              2. re: Infomaniac

                I've been. Sweet Tomatoes is certainly good -- definitely better than boilerplate pizzeria stuff, but it's not in my personal top choices for the Greater Boston area -- which in no particular order would include Regina's (North End only), Santarpio's, Lynwood Cafe, Pizza Oggi, Upper Crust, Antico Forno, The Half Shell, and Emma's. I'd put it in a second tier that encompasses Armando's, Ernesto's, Cambridge 1, Christo's, and Cape Cod Cafe, which is amply decent, if not my first option.

                Others may have strong feelings in other directions, of course. Kind of like listing your cheese steak favorites on the Pennsylvania Chowhound board, I'll bet....

              3. re: NYA Joe

                The one that won my heart was this one:

                Napoletana Pizza (Old World Style). A classic recipe of pizza sauce complimented by anchovy fillets and capers, Pecorino Romano cheese, fresh garlic spiced with oregano, fresh cracked black pepper and spicy oil. Sprinkled with fresh basil. Cooked to perfection. (Recommendation: This pizza should be cooked well done for added flavor.)

                Another one I had was good but not as good. Anyway, pizza is something on which there's not that much agreement as to what makes a good one.

                1. re: NYA Joe

                  Well, Regina's is not about the toppings. It's about the crust; toppings are backup counterpoint, so it's best to keep it simple. Their best toppings are the original cheese & tomato sauce, or the pepperoni, in either case ordered well done. This is not a coal-fired, imitate-Naples operation, so I would forego fancier or more "authentic" pizzas.

                  Now, if I could only find a way to get Santarpio's lamb sausage, garlic and oregano over to Regina's for it's cheese, sauce and crust....that would be supernal pizza!

                  Oh, and Regina's can't be the King...because she's already the Queen.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    I stand corrected. Long live the queen! :-D

                    bachslunch, could you tell me a little more about the Half Shell? I don't know anything about it. Thanks!

                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      Sure, glad to. The Half Shell is a pizza joint between Harvard and Porter Squares in Cambridge. It's one of those places where you sometimes see cops, city workers, and meter maids among non-uniformed customers.

                      I've had subs, pizza, and calzones there, and I like them all immensely.

                      They use a really nice Piantedosi roll when they make subs (it's printed on the side of the carton where they cut a length of bread for the sandwich), which to me makes a big difference from other places: nice and crusty outside with good medium texture bread.

                      The pizza is thin crust (though not designer-cracker-thin like at Emma's, and not the kind with bubbles in it); it's unusually airy and light but definitely not insubstantial, with a pleasing taste -- and they don't burn the heck out of the bottom. The sauce and cheese taste really fresh, and it all makes for a clean but tasty pie with just a little bit of grease. I usually get a slice to eat in, and I keep thinking "gee, it won't be as good as I remember." But it always is. I've never had a pizza quite like it, but maybe I don't get around enough, who knows?

                      When I've gotten calzones, they have the same clean, fresh taste as the pizza. They likely make them up on demand, because after placing an order the guy disappears downstairs, then returns about 5 minutes later with a calzone to pop in the pizza oven.

                      On top of all that, they offer breakfast all day.

                      Hope the above description is useful; it's the best I can provide.

                      1. re: bachslunch

                        Thanks very much for the info. Have you tried New Towne Grill and Armando's? If you, do you like the Half Shell's pizza better?

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          I've had slices at Armando's a couple times; it's more out of my way so I haven't been too often. Very good pizza, kind of like Regina's if memory serves, the kind with crust bubbles. I'm not so much a crust bubble fan, so it gets to my second tier, but I can understand if some people prefer it.

                          It's been a long time since I've been to Socrates New Towne Grill and longer yet since I've had a slice there. I remember thinking it was generic pizzeria fare then, ranking definitely below the other two at about Boston House of Pizza level, but to be fair it's been quite a while since I tried their pizza and it may be different now. About twelve years ago, they had attracted a pretty good cook for their divey dining room and made a very nice pasta-chicken-broccoli dish I got a few times. But he left a few years later and his replacement was not good at all. Haven't been back since.

                          I like Half Shell's pizza better in both cases, with caveats noted above.

                  2. re: NYA Joe

                    "The slightly burned crust and conservative amount of greasy cheese and toppings prevent it from the major leagues."

                    This sentences does not compute:

                    1) To me, the charred crust is what gives a Regina pizza it's distinctly awesome taste.

                    2) Not enough cheese or toppings? Have you gone mad? The cheese and toppings are so vast half the time they slide off the saucy crust.

                    1. re: Dax

                      What he said, and while I agree w/ Karl S for the most part about the quality of the toppings, I'm a sucker for that St. Anthony's pie--grilled peppers and onions and 2 kinds of sausage. Eating one by yourself = gaining 4 lbs. in a single evening. Trust me, I've done the research, done the math.

                      1. re: tatamagouche

                        I don't like Regina's sausage crumbles. Actually, I detest them; the remind me of school cafeteria sausage pizza thingies.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          I agree, I also don't like the ground up sausage meat. I order a link sausage pizza instead at Pizzeria Regina at Station Landing in Medford. I would rather have sliced sausage on my well done pizza than that ground up stuff.

                          1. re: buffet king

                            Me three. Love that link sausage pie at Station Landing.


                  3. I've been trying to get over being really sick and so ordered a pizza from the Paddock last night. I have to say it's not the BEST (I think Regina's rules) but it's pretty durned good. And it was delivered hot and piping to my sick bed. I almost felt human for a minute.

                    But let me say that one of the things I like most about the Regina's pie is the sauce. It's fresh, juicy tomatoey tasting -- a perfect base for the toppings and cheese. The crust is great, especially if ordered well-done, but the sauce also contributes to its glory.

                    I like the experience of Santarpios, and the lamb and sausage is great, but to my taste Regina's is the best in town.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: yumyum

                      I havent been to Boston Reginas for years but it was always my favorite. I hate going to the city so have been constantly searching for pizza that satisfies the craving North of Boston. Have usually gone to Regina's in Polcaris Saugus but am often somewhat disappointed. How do people who have been to both find that they compare? Anyways recently I have been THRILLED to find pizza that was so good hubby and I cant get it off our minds. The Flatbread Company in Bedfore. Just a few minutes past the Burlington Mall. It is amazingly delicious! It looks like a funky Vermont place, with a little touch of corporate decor but not enuf to ruin it. Its organic, and although i am vegetarian i usually find that organic in restaurants means tasteless or wierd, but organic here means delicious! The crust is extrmely thin and drippy in the middle, but on the edges it is soft and doughy and bubbly and like homemade bread pizza crust. Its cooked in a woodburning huge clay oven, which gives it a taste a little reminiscent of Indian Nan bread without the indian spices. The onions were sweet as sugar, and that's not the carmelized ones. The cauldron cooked sauce is really addictive, not acidic, not full of oregano. Although, we ordered the pizza without the herbs so i am not sure how it tastes with them, which is the normal way it comes. They do coat it with a light brush of garlic which is a nice addition. The oven warmed brownie sundae was yummy too. The salads looked great but we didnt have any. Its fun too as they have music at 6 on Mon and Wed. On Mondays its a group of college guys playing acoustic old and new stuff. They wouldnt pass by Simon Cowell but it was genuine and really enjoyable and little kids liked dancing to it. Also, the same week we had a second round of really good pizza. Sal's, which is a chain mostly Merrimac Valley and NH and Salisbury but now in Middleton. They have HUGE slices for very cheap. But I like getting a fresh cooked pie so the crust is not reheated ( although they reheat well enuf). It is a new york style pizza with good cheese and huge edges of bubbly doughy crust. The sauce isnt special, kind of standard oregano tomato, but its a huge, fresh, cheap and really good pizza. They have fun baked goods too.

                      1. re: chompie

                        If you like Regina's pie but don't want to go into town, the new restaurant at Station Landing in Medford is a great option. It's not as good as the original -- something about those ancient ovens -- but boy is it good. I usually take out but the dining room is spacious and clean and there is decent red wine and draft beer to wet your whistle. There are salads, baked pasta dishes and other things on the menu, including dessert. But for me it's all about the pizza. My favorite is the link sausage (ask for link or you get the crumbles) well done. Delicious every time.

                        1. re: yumyum

                          thanks yumyum! Is it called Reginas? or is it a Polcaris? I had no idea there was more than one free standing Reginas! Have you had the Polcaris Reginas? how did it compare to the Medford?

                          1. re: chompie

                            It's called Regina's. It's new in the Medford Station Landing location (right next to a new Kelly's if you need a roast beef sandwich to take home). It's very good -- expecially if ordered well done, so the crust gets charred in spots. I haven't had Polcari's for years so I can't make a direct comparison ...