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I COMPARED PIZZERIA REGINA (NORTH END) TO SANTARPIO'S TODAY

I bought a small cheese pizza at each, since I heard they were two of the best and tried them at the same time:

Santarpio's: $10 for a 14-inch. Very flavorful (ie. probably high fat cheese), with a garlic presence, the cheese obviously a blend (I detected romano). The crust was really bad, very tough, it must have been a poor crust day. It came with a small char and had been dusted with cornmeal.

Pizzeria Regina: $9:32 for a 10-inch. The crust on this was very tender compared to Santarpio's (dusted with flour instead of cornmeal) and easy to eat. There was no char. The cheese was oozing about, but nowhere near as full of flavor as Santarpio's. I didn't detect any strong garlic or herbs, and it appeared to be topped with only mozzarella instead of a mix, but I could be incorrect. The sauce seemed to be the same as most other typical pizzas I have had, nothing that stood out at all.

The superior pizza to me was Santarpio's, as it was extremely flavorful compared to Regina's. It was also bigger to boot for the money. I hope the crust was just off the day I had it, because it was very tough, you had to yank it apart.

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  1. Was planning to check out Regina Pizzeria on our visit to Boston. I guess this place is more hype as a tourist attraction than its worth?

    24 Replies
    1. re: sillyputty999

      Not at all. Regina vs Santarpios is a matter of personal preference, but they are both excellent. Just make sure you go to the original North End location for Regina's.

      1. re: Gabatta

        If food (or any art) is just personal preference, why is there the field of food criticism? There must be some objective standard that can be measured. Frankly, I want Regina's crust and Santarpio's toppings, because neither of them would make me go out of my way.

        1. re: observor

          Well I suppose the definitive objective comparison has been done then. Yet strangely, many here will still go out of their way for both Regina and Santarps...

          1. re: Gabatta

            That's the beauty of it, not everyone loves the same thing, whether it be pizza or one's writing style while reviewing. The op did a good job.

            1. re: Gabatta

              I would
              But you gotta have the pizza AT the restaurants, not cold and at home

            2. re: observor

              Funny you should say that. I haven't gone to Santarpios in years, but my recollection is that they use CANNED peppers (yuk) and also canned mushrooms. That alone I find so disgusting, that I'd not even consider them in the realm of "best pizza."Regina's uses fresh toppings, so there's no comparison for me. How's that for an objective standard? Now if you want to compare their plain pizzas, they are more on the same quality level. YMMV.

              1. re: Ora Moose

                I think most places keep canned goods on for emergencies. Nothing shocks me since I first saw a bartender at Braintree Legal's slice open a pre-packed plastic bag of clam chowder and pour it into a warming pot. Before that I thought it was made at each restaurant.

          2. re: sillyputty999

            Personal preference. Also, I recommend ordering your pizza "well done" at Reginas as to avoid soggy crust.

            1. re: sillyputty999

              i am a confirmed Regina's north end fan. this particular debate has raged on CH for many yrs. IME, were you to do a detailed search, you would find the Reg. camp quite a bit larger than Sant's. And Well Done is a must! hope you have a great visit.

              1. re: sillyputty999

                It absolutely is not simply hype. The OP would have gleaned from the menu that a simple cheese pizza was made with mozzarella. They also would have seen that you could add romano and parmesan if this was your taste.
                I think comparing Santarpios to Regina is like comparing apples and oranges. Sure..they are both pizza, but both different styles.
                I like both, depending on which style I am in the mood for. I will say that I find Regina more consistent in their quality. The OP didn't say anything about the sauce at Santarpios so I'd be curious to see how that very important aspect of any pizza measured up.
                I like the light flavor of Regina's sauce. It doesn't overpower the pizza like many shops do.
                I agree with the OP though. I am not crazy about the cornmeal dusted on the crust of Santarpio pizza.

                1. re: BlueMagic

                  I liked the OP comparison on the two pizzas, and agree with you that these two places serve two completely different kind of pies. The only thing that's similar between the two pies is they are both called pizza.

                  I like both places too, and could not call one place better than the other, and visit each place depending on my mood.

                  The reason Regina's in the NE might get more press or fans is it's because of it's location. It's much more accessable to the tourist, and masses of people. Santarpio's in East Boston is just out of the way for a lot of people, and I certaily wouldn't recommend Santarpio's to any visitors of Boston unless they were on a quest to eat pizza.

                  1. re: BlueMagic

                    Frankly, it is hard to truly measure the sauce when it is combined with cheese and crust in the mouth...it would be good to taste it by itself. FYI, Santarpio's and Regina are less than a ten minute drive from each other...

                    1. re: observor

                      a ten minute drive but a world away especially if you are not from the area.

                      1. re: observor

                        No worries. I only mentioned it because you made it a point to discuss the quality of the sauce at Regina.
                        Good point about the 10 minute drive..lol..but depending on the day or time of day..that 10 minutes can stretch a lot longer!

                        1. re: BlueMagic

                          Really? I have never tried to go through the tunnel at rush hour, but was pleasantly surprised that taking a left and then a left from Santarpio's, puts you into the tunnel, and then exiting at Government Center, one comes out right at Thatcher St. and Regina's! It must have been about 7 minutes door-to-door. The pizza Gods were smiling on me, as a parking space was available right there and I soon had two hot pizzas sitting on my lap.

                    2. re: sillyputty999

                      I find Regina to be very, very average pizza. It's fine if you live across the street like my friend does, but I'd never go out of my way for it, much less wait in line.
                      I don't like Santarpio's either. The crust is tough.

                        1. re: saria

                          no Santarp's and no Regina's?

                          maybe give up on pizza or move back to brooklyn.

                          1. re: hyde

                            Frankly, I like the Upper Crust...their sauce is very chunky and very garlicky.

                            1. re: observor

                              If you like Upper Crust's style of pizza and chunky sauce you should try Sweet Tomatoes in Newton. Similiar style but I always thought Sweet Tomatoes crust was better (crispy but not a cracker). I love this style of pizza.

                              1. re: Klunco

                                Crust-wise, I think the NY style is what I like...not too thin, not too heavy, just a nice crisp, bread-like tender base. I think pizza should be something like a flattened-out sandwich, not a casserole or a topped cracker.

                              2. re: observor

                                Ahh..I guess that really does go to show that many people have distinctly different tastes and preferences when it comes to pizza. Unless they've significantly changed their recipe ( have they reopened?) then UC is not my definition of good pizza. For one thing..I don't like chunky sauce...at all. :-)

                                1. re: BlueMagic

                                  What's the difference if the tomatoes are liquified or not? It's still tomato. Eating a chunk of tomato you get a burst of tomato-iness...mmmm. It's pretty messy, however.

                          2. re: sillyputty999

                            Absolutely not. Regina's: hard to park but worth the pizza wait. Santarpios and Regina's are institutions, and we have fun pitting one again the other. You decide. They are both worth the wait.

                          3. Have you tried the anchovie with romano and extra evoo at Regina's, quite flavorfull. Also, has to be well done.

                            1. Santarpios is off the beaten path but well worth the trip. I am in the north end a lot and never go to reginas. Another difference is santarpios allows strollers where reginas does not

                              1. If you did a side by side comparison, were they both cold? Which pie did you buy first and how much time lapsed before getting the second pie?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Bellachefa

                                  I got the Santarpio's first, which was right from the oven, ate a slice, then went under ten minutes over to the second place, where the pie was also hot out of the oven, pre-ordered. Then I alternated slices and mentally compared them. Perhaps you can doctor them up in ordering to change the final product, but in getting a "cheese pizza" from these places, Santarpio's had much more flavor and far inferior crust compared to Regina's. That's all I learned.

                                  1. re: observor

                                    I don't like Santarpios and I haven't been to Regina's because the North End is too much of a trial for a piece of pizza. I like Ecco and Otto's very much and, while I don't like comparisons to other cities which always seems kind of pointless, I love Pepe's tomato pie!

                                2. In all my years living here, gasp, I have not tried Santarpio's. That needs to change. Ha ha! I do like the original Regina's in the N. End. A spot I like is Oggi in Harvard Sq. in the Holyoke Arcade. They do a nice job, have interesting flavors in addition to the regular cheese, pepperoni, etc. I like their crust, cheese and sauce. I do also like Otto in Harvard Sq. When I go to Santarpio's what should I get?

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: BackBayGirl

                                    wow, based on the review I would have thought the OP Observer would have chosen Reginas.. You cant change a crappy tough crust but you can always ask for garlic or romano or add salt if you want extra flavor.. and if you want char, you can ask for that too. I think Reginas beat Santarp on a TV food show too. I cant really vote since I only had Santarp once a long time ago but don't remember loving it.

                                    1. re: chompie

                                      Regina's did beat Santarpio's on a national TV show, but it was very close. The dough was the very thing that tipped Regina's over Santarpio's. If going to Santarpio's for the first time get pizza (of course!), but with as few toppings as you can (I feel this is good advice at almost any pizza place). Also make sure to get some lamb kebabs or sausage skewers (my favorite). I'm lucky, I like both places pretty much evenly, though they are two VERY different styles of pizza. I do miss the old smoking waiters and waitresses at Santarpio's, though. It was the only place in town where the staff was more upset about the smoking ban than the customers. I loved he old guy sliding a pie onto the table, lit cigarette dangling from his lip saying in as gruff a voice as you can muster "Here's you f*#@ing pie!"

                                      1. re: kimfair1

                                        LOL! And when you ordered their best bottle of red they treated you like a wine snob as they smacked the jelly jar glasses down! I adore both places. Love the garlic pizza at Santarpios, and a Roni/Pepper at Regina's. And the sausage at Santarpios rocks. The lamb often rocks too, but can be inconsistent in fat trimming.

                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                          We were eating there once right after the Globe had written them up, and there were two gentlemen who asked for olive oil for the bread. The look they got was priceless. Another time we took some friends and told them not to ask for menus. "Look, they have pizza with regular toppings, lamb skewers, and sausage. That's it." Of course they asked for a menu. The waiter's response? "What is it, f*@#ing rookie night in here? Everybody wants a f@#*ing menu tonight!" Priceless.

                                      2. re: chompie

                                        I love...just love Santarpio's sausage pizza.

                                      3. re: BackBayGirl

                                        Santarpio's can be inconsistent with cheese amounts and placement, which knocks a point or two off for me, but what kills me is the toll to get back into Boston, that's the straw that breaks this camel's back. I do think when it's good, it's great, and the sausage and lamb kebabs are wonderful (LOVE the peppers they are served with), but the inconsistency is a real problem. The staff there are genius, and people complain about Regina's staff's surliness...I love it though (at both places), there is something very Bostonian and no-nonsense about the staff of both places, and I never get offended by their brashness and abrupt personalities

                                        1. re: devilham

                                          I have never, ever understood the reputation for surliness that Regina has, unless it's a holdover from the days when that manager who was eventually busted for sexual harassment was there. That would make anyone surly.

                                          But whenever I'm at Regina, I see waitresses chatting with the customers, playing with their little kids, and generally being completely pleasant. And I'm talking at like 8 pm on a Saturday, so it's not like they get grumpy when they're slammed. So why do people keep saying that the waitresses at Regina are surly?

                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                            The guy that manages the line outside can be a bit of a dick. Can't say I'd keep a smile on my face at all times with that job, either, but still.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              I know exactly who you mean and you are right. That guy is a jerk..but if you can get past him ( literally and figuratively)..then the service is great inside.

                                            2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                              I don't see it myself, but I have a coworker who won't go back because she felt slighted, and I have seen folks get put off when they are told to step aside from the bar so staff can access the kitchen, or told how and where to wait in line (hint: don't stand in the doorway with the door open for 10 minutes in January), or the greatest sin of all, call in your pizza to-go, and then say you want to eat it there, and then try go stiff on the tip, Regina's ain't having none of that!

                                              That being said, the young lady who works the bar on Saturday days is a lovely person, who treats my six year old like a VIP (she'll put in our order ahead of time if she sees us outside), all the Saturday staff is wonderful to me and my son, and Doug who tends bar on some weekdays is just great.

                                              You just have to follow the rules and be aware of staff and other customers and your treated fine, more than fine really, but block the kitchen entrance, you WILL get moved!

                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                  My first visits there were less than friendly, but now as I've gotten into the groove with picking up my take-out, they couldn't be nicer.

                                                  "Light sauce, well done" Just always append that to your order at Regina's and you'll be golden.

                                                  1. re: mikeinboston

                                                    I do light cheese extra sauce well done.