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So tired of the Umberto's Love.....

Nice people, check. Cool place to eat, check. Cheap, check...

Pizza is just so substandard, even for the so called "grandma slice" they serve. Was there last week. Soggy mess, cold, cold pizza. Gummy rice balls, ultra-lame calzones (calzones have riccota cheese within). This isn't an institution but rather a place more like a high school cafeteria. It doesn't even belong in the "pizza conversation". I've lurked around here long enough to know this is heresy, so have at it. i think there is a difference between institution and institutional.... Better slice (but still not great) at the Royal Bakery in Cambridge on Cambridge St. 10 other places I'd go for a slice before Umbertos, maybe 15....

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  1. I also don't quite get the enthusiasm, but overall I like it. It's like a school cafeteria from another universe.

    1. One calzone has ricotta: it's the one called the ham, salami and ricotta calzone. That's kind of a warning sign that it, y'know, contains ricotta.

      Given that they turn over the pizza trays approximately every 3-5 minutes during the lunch rush, I'd love to know when you went that you were able to get "cold, cold pizza," since that suggests the line was atypically short then.

      1. You don't like it, that's your opinion, and I respect it. I love it, I've been going there going on 30 years now, and that's my opinion. No harm, no foul, though I'm glad to know there'll be one less person ahead of me in line!

        1. I guess this has been really eating at you. Where are your faves?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            I was expecting a pile up, that's the nature of the beast. Point is, I was just there last week, so it seems fair to comment. Also, it reminded me of why I didn't like the place. I was there early and there were no lines and there were plenty of tables available and maybe that why the pizza was "cold". Maybe "not hot" is a better description. Regardless, The pizza just isn't any good and despite there being a ricotta calzone on the menu, the one I shared with friends, a spinach/cheese combo, was a lifeless dud. And the legendary rice balls, come on....

            Just in the North End alone I rather hit Regina's, Ernesto's and even Il Panino Express has a better slice. As for square slices, Armando's and Pinnocchio's in Harvard Square are much better as is a new-fangled slice like Otto's. Hell, even Bosstone on Newbury St is better.

            1. re: sadflour

              Oh wait, I see. You were complaining that the calzone you had didn't have ricotta, not that it did. That had been unclear in your original post.

              Anyway, calzones do not have to have ricotta in them to be calzones.

          2. So you've been once, got a cold slice, and ordered a calzone flavor you don't care for, and the place just sucks... clearly you've done a thorough study of this place.

            Hot out of the oven, which happens continuously most days for 3 hours straight, the slices, while a very particular style, I find quite delicious, like the corner bakery in my father-in-law's home town in Abruzzo. Thick, bready, melty, uncomplicated.

            Likewise the arancini when they are hot out of the frier, homey, substantial, and great.

            Their plain spinach calzone just might be my fave in Boston, but it too is a particular item, simple, not overly foofy or complicated, but again delicious.

            Try it again, or not. Their style might not be yours. A chacun son gout, or more appropriately, a ciascuno il suo.

            5 Replies
            1. re: StriperGuy

              This like the Fox News of food conversations. I said I was reminded of why I didn't like Umberto's on a recent visit with friends. So clearly I'd been there before. Enough times to know it was vastly over-rated or a regional quirk. Umberto's pizza isn't thick by any standard and calling it bready is not even close to the truth. In fact, it isn't even half as thick, say, as Pinocchio's or Armando's. It is a home-style "grandma slice" with no rise in the crust, slathered with commercial grade cheese, and a simple, ordinary tomato sauce. Frankly, I've had better frozen pizza....

              1. re: sadflour

                To each his own.

                By the by, I actually agree with your comments on S&S and Punjabi Dhaba though you certainly don't spare the harsh words.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  No harsh words and no hard feelings, I hope. Though pizza does seem to get people's blood up, including mine. I sensed I would incur the collective wrath of the board but didn't expect to be pummeled like this. While I've read CH for a long time now, this is just my second time writing in, so sorry if I was off-point on my initial foray, Gabatta. Still, I stick to my guns about Umberto's....

              2. re: StriperGuy

                (Possibly dumb question...) So is the plain spinach calzone just spinach? No cheese? That sounds really great. I have got to get back to Umberto sometime soon.

                1. re: maillard

                  Yes, there's a spinach calzone, a spinach and cheese calzone and a sausage, spinach and cheese calzone.

                  Fair warning, all the spinach calzones are about 5% garlic by weight. I think this is a good thing, but not all agree.

              3. I agree that everyone's entitled to their opinion, but this is one pizza I haven't seen duplicated anywhere in the Boston area. Always hot, always delicious. And, like J. O. glad to have one less person in line in front of me.
                I Always Enjoy,

                1. Folks, we've had to remove some posts from this discussion and we ask everyone to recognize that dissent is really a crucial part of these boards. We need all posters to feel that they are welcome and encouraged to share all their opinions, both positive and negative, even if they haven't been posting here since the days of dial-up modems.

                  Please help us make room for ALL opinions. If you encounter an opinion you don't agree with, your options are to post your own opinion of the chow, or to skip the post and read something else. Personal attacks and critiques of other posters simply aren't conducive to building a diverse resource of opinions, so please post and let post.

                  1. I'd agree on the arancini disappointment. It's a nice portion, but it just doesn't really do it for me. I liked the fried mashed potato thing, though ... it's like a loaded baked potato, mashed up, re-shaped into a potato, and fried. All variations of a potato in one!

                    1. FWIW, I would eat the pizza, calzones, and arancini more often IF it was nearby AND there was little or no line - for me, it's not cheap and tasty enough to merit a long walk and a long wait. It's not a destination in my book, but I'm glad it's there for others to enjoy and add to the character of Hanover Street...