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Feb 17, 2012 04:49 AM

Great old school pizza and arancini at Galleria Umberto

On a recent trip to Boston for a convention a few of us ducked into Galleria Umberto in the North End for lunch - the only time it's open.

It was a cold, drizzly, snowy day and we had done a lot of walking, so to be greeted with delicious old-school gooey Italian pizza slices and arancini rice balls the size of baseballs was indeed warm and most welcoming.

I so miss Boston.

Photo: Rice ball and pizza slice

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  1. It is good stuff for sure, but man did you come off as from out of town with the title of your post!!! Glad you got to enjoy one of our best pizza places TrishUntrapped, enjoy your stay in Boston

    2 Replies
    1. re: devilham

      LOL Devilham. I've been away from Boston for so many years I feel like a tourist. And I know that Bostonians don't need my POV about Umberto's. I'm preaching to the choir.

      But thought other visitors might miss this place in the North End and don't want them to.

      1. re: TrishUntrapped

        Keep on posting, Trish. I always enjoy it when you come to town and remind us about some of the places we take for granted.

    2. One of my favorite pizzas in the Boston area. The arancini, at least for me, is hit-or-miss. But man, is that pizza ever good.

      7 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        I find that the arancini are greatly improved by slicing in half and adding a bit of salt and pepper. They are the reason I go there. I like the pizza, panzarotti, and calzones, but the GOG as my wife calls them (Golden Orbs of Goodness) is our main reason for going to Umberto's.

        1. re: kimfair1

          Kimfair, agree. We cut the rice ball into four pieces to share and they needed salt and pepper. Were quite good.

          1. re: kimfair1

            kimfair, i always feel like i owe you one because of Esperia, so>> the arancini at Il Casale are the best I have had in Boston. Arancini (or Suppli [telephone wires- because of the interior melted cheese]) were one of my Rosticerria go-tos when we lived in Rome, and I adore them.
            In Rome they were about half the size of GU's, and in restaurants here they are usually 1- 1 1/2 " balls, and have the great flavor and textural advantage of being made from arborio rice. La Morra's are excellent too but Il Casale's have a subtle tomato and porcini thing going- that takes them over the top. I actually know someone who ate two orders all by herself, before her pasta and entree.......:-}

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              I've had the arancini at Il casale, and they are excellent, but there's something about the ones at GU that entrance me. It's probably the 30+ years I've been eating them. Actually the wife and I were there yesterday having our arancini and other goodies.

              1. re: kimfair1

                For you arancini lovers, if you are ever in New York City, check out the Risotto Balls at Crispo. Although I didn't really care for other aspects of my meal, and haven't returned since my initial visit, I have to admit those darn risotto balls of theirs are cravably delicious.

          2. re: hiddenboston

            I eat them by digging a small hole and scooping out the insides until the crust is left and then I eat that.

          3. The spinach & cheese calzone is pretty damn good too, but the pizza is so phenomenal I almost never order it.

            I might be the only one to pay attention to things like this, but they have the coldest can of Coke in the city (perfect pizza pairing IMO).

            6 Replies
            1. re: Mr. Mack

              "I might be the only one to pay attention to things like this, but they have the coldest can of Coke in the city (perfect pizza pairing IMO)."

              You are definitely not the only person who pays attention to coldness of Coke. At home, I like to throw my cokes in the freezer (glass bottles please) for 5-6 minutes until it gets to the coldest point possible before it freezes. Yum.

              1. re: Gordough

                Wish more restaurants had those glass bottles, they really are better. Stella's in Watertown is the only place I see them.

                1. re: Gordough

                  I knew there were other freaks as particular as me out there. I appreciate the cold coke and do the same at home on the occasion that I drink one.

                  I don't drink much soda any more, but when I do I prefer a the mexican coke in a glass bottle. I can live with a can, but soda (or just about anything) out of a plastic bottle is non drinkable to me.

                  I like Umberto's in the unlikely event that I am near the NE in the late morning. There is no way I am dealing with getting to and parking in the NE, and waiting in that line at peak lunch time only to find out they have run out of something I want.

                  1. re: Gordough

                    I couldn't agree more, an ice cold coke makes everything better! I'm totally craving this combo now.

                  2. re: Mr. Mack

                    Don't let my work know (it's far enough away from my job I can get away with this) but sometimes I have a beer with mine (also super cold), and man, THAT is the perfect pizza pairing!! (also IMO, of course)

                  3. I also like the panzarotti - essentially mashed potato fried with a bit of cheese in the middle.

                    It's the kind of place where I hand them money and they give me change and I sometimes have no idea how much the food cost. I trust them that much.

                    1. Had lunch to go from there today, after a massive craving set off by the OP's picture of course.

                      I was reminded how much more I like the "wet" slices vs the "dry" ones. Their turnover is so quick that I don't think this is because of sitting around (what from then?), but some slices are definitely dried out while others are nice and greasy. This is easy to point out when you look at the tray on the counter, but when someone else runs in it can be a crapshoot. Lucky I got 3 good ones so I can't complain.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Mr. Mack

                        Aha! Maybe that's why I never understood the Umberto pizza love. Next time I'll have to look for a "wet" slice!