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Pizzeria Regina for a novice

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I'm going to be in Boston on Thursday night by myself and I'm wondering whether I should go to Pizzeria Regina. I'm going to be in the Back Bay, which looks to be a chowhound desert, so I thought I'd venture over to the North End. Regina sounds great, but will I have to wait a million years to get a table? Are there tables for one? Or a bar? I've got a fairly large appetite, so I'm not too worried about putting away a single pizza by myself, or at least a respectable portion of it. Or am I deluding myself? Finally, what kind is the best?

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  1. There are plenty of good eats to be had in or near the Back Bay. Boston is so small that you're never too far from a particular neighborhood. Back Bay is adjacent to the South End, home to many Chowhound favorites. With that said, keep in mind that it's Restaurant Week here, which means that you should definitely call ahead for reservations but also that you could try a high-end place for $30.08. Several recent threads have reported mixed RW experiences, so the experience may not be as much of a treat as you'd hope. With that said, I love Regina's. It offers superb food and local color. The line moves but there is usually a wait. There is a bar and you can get small pizzas, which could be a good single-serving. They serve pizza and beverages (beer and wine) only, no salads. If my eyes didn't deceive me when I was there a month ago, I saw people paying with a credit card, though I'd come with cash just in case I was hallucinating. As for best, I like the sausage, which is housemade. If you have room for dessert when you're done, wander over to the Modern Pastry shop on Hanover St. for a cannoli.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Velda Mae

      I have never seen them take credit, always cash-only. Perhaps this is a recent development? Sitting at the bar with a small, well-done pepperoni and sausage over a couple of beers is heaven. However, if you are on the stool at the end closest to the kitchen, prepare ahead of time to get bumped a lot.

      1. re: Dax

        They definitely take credit cards now, I used one last time I was there.

    2. Don't get more than one or two toppings and order it "well done"

      1. Depending on where you are from and how available good pizza is there, Regina is not really worth it. It's decent enough pizza if you live in Boston, but I wouldn't travel more than a mile to get it. If you're willing to drop a little more money, I'd go to Neptune Oyster instead and have a lobster roll or the ciopinno. It won't be as good as it will be in a few months, but it's a little more Boston exclusive, imo. If you don't want to spend the extra 15, regina is a good pizza, if not a real destination place.

        Also, not to start a riot or anything, but I prefer both Maria's and Mike's cannoli to Modern.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bza

          No riot but I will respectfully object to virtually all of your post.

          1. Regina is quite good and worth the trip to the N. End from anywhere in greater Boston. The restaurant itself is a unique experience.
          2. Regina and Neptune Oyster are answers to two radically different questions and can in no way be compared.
          3. I am content to not have you make the line at Modern even longer

          :)

          1. re: Carty

            As a big pizza person in general, I really feel that Regina is a great pizza place for Boston, a mediocre pizza place as a national competitor.

            I was only comparing regina and neptune in the sense that they are both considered destination restaurants and the op was really talking about having one night in boston rather than specifically asking about regina.

            And unfortunately, I still go to modern for their ricotta pie, so you're just going to have to get there before me. ;)

            1. re: bza

              "Regina is a great pizza place for Boston, a mediocre pizza place as a national competitor." I strongly agree with the first part, almost as much as I strongly disagree with the second part. While some (not me) may argue that Regina does not compare some New York and New Haven (and I guess I'll throw Chicago in too) places, most other regions I have visited in the states are weak on the pizza front. The South is mostly horrible for pizza with the exception of a few places that use real wood-burning ovens imported from Italy and god my few forays into pizza in Texas and California, and a few other places, was a total waste time. You may not like it as much as some other places, but it's far from "mediocre ... as a national competitor." Just my $.02.

              1. re: Dax

                Unsurprisingly perhaps given the large Italian population in New Orleans one can find excellent pizza, but I still very much like Regina's in the North End.

                California, on the other hand, I'd rather eat Regina's in the mall (which is not terribly good).

        2. There is a small bar, seats maybe 5. Oftentimes if there is a line out the door you can just pass by and grab a seat at the bar. I actually prefer it as the service doesn't seem as rushed. IMHO you stick with the basics like a pepperoni or mushrooom onion and ask for it well done. I think it's what they do best. As for small or large, for some reason I prefer the large, but I really can't explain why.

          1. The wait shouldn't be too long for one person, something will probably open up at the bar quickly. The weather is supposed to be decent on Thursday, so the wait will not be terrible. IMO Regina is worth the visit regardless of where you come from, or where you are staying if you like good pizza.

            I would go for a large pepperoni well done. I agree with Pegmeister, the large just seems to cook up better. You can take the leftovers back to the hotel.

            Enjoy...

            1. At Pizzeria Regina in the North End get a well done link sausage pizza or a well done pepperoni pizza and you'll be very happy. If you have room for dessert I would go to Modern Pastry on Hanover Street for a delicious cannoli or any of their other pastry items. You can't go wrong with the original Pizzeria Regina on Thatcher Street and Modern Pastry on Hanover Street. Enjoy! If you don't eat meat then I would recommend a quattro formaggio (white pizza). It's my 2nd favorite pizza at Pizzeria Regina. My favorite pizza is a well done link sausage pizza.

              3 Replies
              1. re: buffet king

                "My favorite pizza is a well done link sausage pizza."

                Mine too. :-)

                1. re: yumyum

                  I'll go for sausage/onion..stretched and well done.

                  The "stretched" part was a tip we got from a long time regular...little thinner and crisper.

                  1. re: 9lives

                    Thanks! Great tip on the stretched. I tried it out and I got my pepperoni well done and stretched tonight. It was noticably thinner than regular. The small almost took up the whole tin. Stretched is definitely my new standing order from now on. Regina's is the best...

              2. Sit at the bar and order the small or 2 smalls if you are really hungry. About a year ago we did some unscientific research and the smalls just tasted better than the larges. Maybe something to do with less dough to cook. Even if we have people over we order a bunch of smalls.

                2 Replies
                1. re: TopCat

                  Is the bar the only sitting area in the place?

                  1. re: Wolfgang

                    It's actually predominantly tables; the bar suggestions are due to the OP being a solo diner.

                2. Damn, Boston, way to do it up! This is more than I could have ever hoped for. I'll be sure to report back.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: jasmurph

                    Are you okay with anchovies? If so the Old World Pizza (the first one on the menu) is 100% the thing to go for. It's the original and the best.

                    1. re: jasmurph

                      I like a small plain cheese, well done. Thanks for the "stretch" tip 9lives. I've been going for 44 years, never heard of that one, though that's the way the pizzas were back then.

                      1. re: jasmurph

                        My fav pizza there is either a small salami (well done), or a small 4-cheese (well-done).

                        As others have mentioned in the past (including myself), the way to avoid lines out the door is just to walk right past them into Regina's and grab a seat at the bar. There's almost always at least one available.

                        (The other way in will remain my personal secret. But it involves an alley, a trap door, and a bullwhip.)

                        1. re: Bostonbob3

                          I've lived here in Boston for 6 months and have not gone to Pizzareia Regina in the North End, but I did get a slice in the Prudential Center and it was pretty bad. I realized then, that I had to go to the original for a fresh pie. However, in most of the comments, everyone say to order it "well done". Why? If this is supposed to be such a great pizza, at least in Boston, why do you have to order it different from the way they usually make it? What if you do not order it well-done - does it come out soggy? What gives?

                          1. re: rockpile

                            For pizza freaks like me, "well-done" is the usual order in ANY pizzeria. I like the crust more charred and "thumpy."

                            Gives it a better smokey taste and more chew.

                            But Regina's ordered straight is really good, too. I guess it just depends on your crust preference.

                            BTW, not to be too snarky rockpile, but I'd guess you're from New York or Chicago?

                            PLEASE don't say you can't get good NY- or Chicago-style pizza here.

                            Because we can't get good Boston-style pizza there.

                            1. re: Bostonbob3

                              What is "Boston -style pizza" ?? If there is a distinct difference I sure have yet to identify it (other than some surly jamoke saying "Yankees suck" as they hand over the box).

                              1. re: TonyO

                                What is "NY-style" pizza?

                                Made with excessive hair gell, gold medallions and satin jackets?

                                Come on, my point is that people complain they can't get NY-style pizza in Boston. Uh, no kidding, this isn't New York.

                                1. re: Bostonbob3

                                  Easy there Spike Lee ! My point is Regina's IS NY Style pizza served in Boston (which is really Neopolitan pizza). Somehow, thin crust pizza has become known as NY Style Pizza (although some will argue that the type of oven , namely coal fired, is just as important).

                                  I have to go start my Cadillac and hope the curbfeelers haven't frozen to the ground and nobody stole the plastic Virgin Mary off of my dashboard ovah here.

                                  1. re: TonyO

                                    Heh. You made me laugh out loud.

                                    BTW, visiting a buddy in Park Slope this weekend. You like Peppe's there? It's pretty good.

                                    (No Regina's of course, but pretty good.)

                              2. re: Bostonbob3

                                Yes, I am from New York, but I wasn't "dissing" Boston pizza, I was just wondering about the "well-done" part. BTW, I lived in Washington, DC last year and Philadelphia the year before and couldn't find what I'm looking ofr. I'm always on the lookout for great pizza - thin crust which has such a good flavor that you could eat it without any toppings, a flavorful, homemade, not too sweet sauce and excellent cheese. Sometimes, I think that it is too much to ask for. P.S. What is "Boston-style pizza?

                                1. re: rockpile

                                  "Boston-style" pizza is my stock answer when somebody asks why they can't get "NY-style pizza" in Boston.

                                  Just do a pizza site search, and you'll see that this is a long, long-time ongoing discussion.

                              3. re: rockpile

                                Actually about half the time I did not (and do not when I visit when PR is always a must eat) even remember to order it well done and the pizza was still damn good, with a little bit of char on the under crust. Ordering well done will firm up the crust even more and add even more char.

                                1. re: rockpile

                                  At Regina, you should only order it regular if you plan to reheat it. Otherwise, order it well done for the fullest flavor of the crust (the well done version does not reheat as well as regular done). And always keep the toppings simple.

                            2. I went, I messed up, I ate, I was pretty happy.

                              Yeah, I forgot the well-done advice, I think because I've never thought such a thing was necessary except in slice joints. So, the crust was soggy. And I was initially sad. By the time I'd had a couple of beers and polished off what I thought was a very respectable pizza, I was happy. Having said that, I have to say I'd rather have a Grimaldi's pie in Brooklyn. Sorry, but this NYer can't avoid a swipe at your fair city. Thanks again Boston!

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: jasmurph

                                Well, 30 lashes for failing to heed the advice. And my oldest brother in NY, who goes to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn about 50 times a year (and is friends with the family and staff) still thinks the Regina pie, ordered the right way, is queen of pies, even over Grimaldi's.

                                1. re: jasmurph

                                  I have never in 50+ visits to Regina experienced this "soggy crust" issue when ordered a regular pie or ordering one well done. Do not count them out. Did you sit at the bar?

                                  1. re: Dax

                                    Yup, at the bar. To be clear, not the outer crust, but the bottom crust was soggy. Soggy outer crust would be truly alarming.

                                    And yes, I'd go back. I take partial responsibility for the sog since I didn't put in a request.

                                  2. re: jasmurph

                                    You didn't order more than one topping, did you?

                                    1. re: tamerlanenj

                                      I'm blushing this as I type. Yes, I did. I was starving when I got there and got greedy. Alas, it's not the first time hunger outwitted me. And it won't be the last.

                                      1. re: jasmurph

                                        Then you really didn't have the pies the right way at all. No proper basis for comparison.

                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          I have been to regina's and had no toppings, just cheese and sauce, and the pizza was soggy by my second piece. I am more than willing to go back and order it well done to try to get rid of that problem (though i am in agreement with other posters that it is odd that this would be necessary), but it is definitely unrelated to the toppings.

                                          I've found an abundance of cheese to be a problem at every "great" boston pizza parlor, actually.

                                          Let the flogging commence...

                                          1. re: bza

                                            I've never had that problem. In fact, I've found Regina's crust impervious to sogginess.

                                        2. re: jasmurph

                                          Poor jasmurph! The guy just wants a good pizza, which you should be able to get at a place like Regina's regardless of what/how you order it, and we're on him like the Gestapo! Must order a small. You didn't order it well done, did you? Sit at bar. And for the love of God, no more than one topping!

                                          Shame to your and family if you break the rules! Not that there's no merit to the rules, although I've always done well with a large, not ordered well done. Granted, I get no toppings.

                                          Sorry your pie was less than stellar, jasmurph. After you recover from our flogging, you will live to eat pie another day. And do it right, dammit!

                                          1. re: pollystyrene

                                            Look, I know it's funny, but if you read the New York Di Fara threads they're very similar. If you want lots of toppings, fine, there's nothing wrong with that, but physics dictates that more toppings = more moisture = soggier crust. That's just the way it is. A lot of people prefer a simpler pie at Regina because you get that terrific crisp yet pliable crust and feel that that's the best way to eat it. On the New York threads they would say something snarky like "if you want a meat lovers pizza, go to Domino's" or whatever. I'm not saying that at all. Regina is still good even with a limper crust, and they have good toppings, but it's just not how I would recommend enjoying it.

                                            1. re: tamerlanenj

                                              Exactly. If one is doing a comparison of great pizzas, one should know to have a simpler pie. Since the OP finished off his initial review with a comparison - and some ribbing - he was inviting ribbing in turn. All in good fun. Not a pity party.

                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                I like a good flogging. The Sox have given us a good bit of practice getting used to it lately.

                                    2. Eat at the bar!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: saltyair

                                        So, to get a great pie at Regina's, one must:

                                        1. Sit in a specific section of the restaurant
                                        2. Order the pie well done

                                        Interesting.

                                        1. re: TonyO

                                          Go to the NEw York board. Find the threads were loyal hounds blame posters for their bad experiences because of what/how/when they ordered. A great pizza is a really fickle mistress. Well done pepperoni at Regina is your most likely hit. If you order more than one topping, it's over.

                                      2. Enough of Regina's and Santarpio's! And NY and Chicago too for that matter. If you consider yourself a pizza critic in Boston worth his/her salt, you HAVE TO hop on the orange line to Forrest Hills, get on a bus down Washington st and try the pie at the pleasant cafe. It's been there more than 60 yrs, has an AWESOME menu other than the pizza. HUGE free parking lot right across the street, CHEAP! Not neopolitian or deep dish. what I consider representitive of new england pizza. try it. tell me I'm wrong.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: cheesecakester

                                          Pleasant Cafe does make a great pizza, but it is quite different from Reginas. Their's has a much thinner crust and IMO the toppings are the focus. I like to sit at the bar when Jimmy is working, but I think it's odd that if you order food at the bar you pay for it separately from your bar tab.

                                          1. re: Pegmeister

                                            The most important thing to remember when eating regina is to let it cool before eating it. I have burnt the roof of my mouth many times from being hungry and impatient.

                                            1. re: macadamianut

                                              Okay, I am visiting Boston next week and looking forward to trying Regina's Pizza. My concern is that I won't get a table, can I make a reservation or is that not possible? Any tips, I am with two other people on this trip.

                                              1. re: callitasicit

                                                They don't take reservations. If you get there before 6pm you should be fine. Otherwise, there are often seats available at the bar.

                                                1. re: callitasicit

                                                  The line moves quickly. Otherwise this thread has all of the info you need. Enjoy...

                                                  1. re: callitasicit

                                                    For the most assured easy seating, get there before they open for lunch.
                                                    No resos. They don't need to. Ever.

                                                    They only serve pizza and beverages. Most regulars know to order their pizza well done and with not too many toppings (plain cheese or pepperoni are the classic best bets) - vegetables in particular make for soggy pizza. WHen it comes to you, it will be very hot. Wait a bit and just smell it. If you like to add seasonings (oregano, red pepper flakes, oregano, et cet - adding it while very hot will maximize aromas). Still, remember: this pizza is about the crust with some sauce and cheese - any other toppings are mere condiments. Be sure to drizzle your pizza bones with some of that flavored oil they have in bottles on the tables....

                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      Thanks for all your tips. It seems that the general consensus is to keep it simple. A few toppings, well done and you're set!!

                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                        If you are just going to get one pie at Regina's, the common wisdom on less toppings and well done is a good way to go. However, I do really like their ricotta cheese and I think they do some toppings better than other pizza places. As a change of pace or one of several pizzas, the pollo regina is particularly nice (although the veggies, basically peppers, are a bit much and they don't seem to fry them enough sometimes). It will get soggy because of the toppings, but you can be a pizza enthusiast and still enjoy non-traditional pizzas.

                                                        Order the cheese pizza as opposed to the Margherita too.

                                                        To the person that said Boston pizzerias use too much cheese. The amount of cheese on a pizza can depend on the type of cheese used. Certain cheeses/cheese blends melt better than others, allowing you to use less. More toppings also allow you to use less cheese sometimes. Its not universal in Boston -- there are plenty of places that use the right amount of cheese, there are lots of places that serve a greasy greek pie with lots of cheddar, others that use a bit of provolone, or those use as little as possible to constrain costs. The use of cheddar (which is not unique to greek pizza shops) is probably the one regionality, but the spread in use of grande/polly-o/sysco brand and quantity is not limited to Boston.

                                                        1. re: itaunas

                                                          I went with a large cheese cooked regular and a well done small roni. Both were excellent but very different tastes. It was as if each came from different pizzerias. I am going to have to invest a few more trips to find the perfect combo of large/small and well done/regular but you can't go wrong with a task like that!