9 Slices: a compendium of pizza tasting notes from around Davis Square (long)
It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
Over the long weekend, I believe I visited every Somerville pizzeria within walking distance of Davis Square, and in the interest of the betterment of humanity, ordered the same thing at each: one slice of cheese pizza.
The following is a summary of my findings, roughly in order from worst to best. The numbers in parentheses are the cost, pre-tax, of one slice of cheese pizza. Disclaimers: I realize that slices may not be these eateries' strong suits, but the point here is an apples-to-apples comparison. Also, I excluded Sagra and Amelia's very good Neapolitan-style pies, as they aren't available by the slice. Finally, I want to emphasize that this is just one person's thoughts, nothing more -- the point here it to start a dialog, so please, reply to this thread and weigh in with your own opinions!
9. Alex ($1.50) - an unfortunate example of bad Greek-style. The crust tasted old, both the sauce and cheese were boring and processed-tasting, and they didn't bother to reheat before serving. This was easily my least favorite slice in the area.
8. Davis Square ($1.40) - the people running this place seem pretty friendly, but alas, a nice demeanor does not a good pie make. The relatively thin crust was adequate, if a little tough. Before reheating, they sprinkled some extra mozzarella on top, as if to "Lysol" the oldness of the pizza. Unfortunately both the cheese and sauce were bland and processed-tasting.
7. Mike's ($1.99) - the crust was tough, the cheese tasted vaguely freezer burned. The sauce would have been totally unremarkable, but was somewhat improved by the inclusion of a heavy dose of spices, notably oregano. A penny south of the most expensive slice on the list, this place is coasting on its location and liquor license (I should note that it is the only establishment on the list to serve alcohol).
6. Christo's 7-Star ($1.75) - hmm, 7 out of how many…? As Greek-style crusts go, it really wasn't too bad, sporting a nice buttery crunch. I can't really comment on the sauce, because there was so much cheese piled on this slice that I couldn't taste anything else. The cheese was also notably sour. The whole slice felt out of balance.
5. City Slicker ($1.50 I think -- part of a large order, forgot to check the itemized price) - I love City Slicker in general (thanks again for your posts gini!), but slices are just not the forte here. As has been discussed in other threads on the board, the pizza here is really more of a tart, and it works particularly well with more tart-appropriate combinations (try the "city girl": portobellas, gorgonzola, caramelized onions). But their slice of cheese tastes dangerously similar to bad Greek-style pizza, very rich and greasy, with the crust distracting from the good cheese and fresh sauce. Get anything here but a slice -- everything else I've tried has been stellar.
4. Theo's ($1.10) - the best of the Greek-style, and the cheapest slice in the area, this pie was surprisingly inoffensive. Yes, it was a pan pizza, but it had a nice airiness to it. It was very light on sauce, but this felt deliberate in context, and it actually worked pretty well, even if it wasn't really my style. This place blipped my chowdar as a place to return to for other items; not unlike City Slicker, it's nicely decorated for a pizza/sandwich shop, and there are a number of interesting items on the menu, including a fun-sounding list of "gourmet pizzas" with interesting topping combinations, and strikingly good-looking salads. During my visit, the very nice proprietor demonstrated some impressive skill at managing a rush of customers.
3. Caffé Rossini ($2.00) - "Winner: best pizza in Somerville!" bragged the sans-citation sign on the door, no mention of whether or not this was arbitrarily decided by the pizza chef's mother. But despite the warning bells in my head, this was a pretty good straight-ahead slice. Very thin crust, tangy sauce, nicely salty (although also very greasy) cheese. The most expensive slice in the area, it didn't exactly set the city on fire, but it was pretty good all the same. I should also mention that for breakfast, their baked goods are some of the best in Somerville.
2. La Ronga ($1.50) - as one might expect from bakery-made pizza, the big selling point here was the excellent, bready (but still fairly thin) crust. The cheese was acceptable, and the hearty sauce was fresh-tasting, if perhaps a little "dark" and heavy for my own preference. Unfortunately, La Ronga's hours can make it tricky to pick up a pie for dinner; they close at 6 or 7 p.m. depending on the night.
…and the winner is...
1. Angelina's ($1.25) - WOW!!! This was the big, happy surprise of the tour. Quite frankly, Angelina's left its eight competitors in the dust, the only all-Boston-caliber slice in the area. The basic, very thin crust was crispy and chewy in all the right places. The perky, light application of sauce perfectly complimented the cheese, which had just the right bite and salt. As fate would have it, Angelina's was the first place I tried; I was so taken aback by the slice here that I made it a point to return again at the very end of my pizza tour, and I was still every bit as impressed. Not sure how the rest of their menu measures up, but for the Davis Square area, this slice is in a class by itself.
This is an awesome run-down. Thanks so much for taking 9 for the team.
I've not had La Ronga (keep meaning to) but I love Theo's for Greek style and Angelina's for a good traditional slice. The folks at Caffe Rossini are so nice (and the coffee is great there too), but I wouldn't doubt the home made signage was indeed done by Lola, the artsy owner.
Widening the testing area just a bit reveals that Pini's in Magoun Square does an awesome slice ($1.50) while their whole pies aren't very good, IMO. The reheating actually aids the slice.
Bravo and a tip of the fork to you. We Chowhounds are fortunate to have people like you who are willing to do such great work. Thanks for the superlative effort. (And reminding me about La Ronga's pizza. Will definitely have to try Angelina's). If you every expand upon this into Medford, be sure to try Bocelli's (formerly DePasquale Brothers.) They make a heckuva a pie.