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observor Jul 16, 2013 05:43 PM

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.

  1. sillyputty999 Jul 16, 2013 06:32 PM

    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
      Gabatta Jul 16, 2013 06:37 PM

      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
        observor Jul 16, 2013 10:42 PM

        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
          Gabatta Jul 17, 2013 04:05 AM

          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
            libertywharf Jul 17, 2013 05:27 AM

            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
              TylerDurdenMass Oct 14, 2013 07:30 PM

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

            2. re: observor
              Ora Moose Jul 17, 2013 12:30 PM

              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
                libertywharf Jul 20, 2013 05:47 AM

                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
            Klunco Jul 16, 2013 07:07 PM

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

            1. re: sillyputty999
              opinionatedchef Jul 16, 2013 09:42 PM

              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
                BlueMagic Jul 17, 2013 04:35 AM

                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
                  Infomaniac Jul 17, 2013 06:36 AM

                  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
                    observor Jul 17, 2013 06:49 AM

                    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
                      hyde Jul 17, 2013 07:46 AM

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

                      1. re: observor
                        BlueMagic Jul 17, 2013 04:46 PM

                        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
                          observor Jul 17, 2013 04:57 PM

                          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
                      saria Jul 17, 2013 05:33 AM

                      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
                        mkfisher Jul 17, 2013 05:59 AM

                        What do you like?

                        1. re: saria
                          hyde Jul 17, 2013 07:50 AM

                          no Santarp's and no Regina's?

                          maybe give up on pizza or move back to brooklyn.

                          1. re: hyde
                            observor Jul 17, 2013 08:08 AM

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

                            1. re: observor
                              Klunco Jul 17, 2013 10:19 AM

                              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
                                observor Jul 17, 2013 04:45 PM

                                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
                                BlueMagic Jul 17, 2013 04:48 PM

                                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
                                  observor Jul 17, 2013 05:00 PM

                                  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
                            rosiebcook Oct 28, 2013 02:31 PM

                            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. t
                            treb Jul 17, 2013 04:14 AM

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

                            1. l
                              libertywharf Jul 17, 2013 04:25 AM

                              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. b
                                Bellachefa Jul 17, 2013 07:05 AM

                                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
                                  observor Jul 17, 2013 07:23 AM

                                  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
                                    teezeetoo Jul 17, 2013 09:59 AM

                                    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. b
                                  BackBayGirl Jul 17, 2013 12:39 PM

                                  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
                                    chompie Jul 17, 2013 12:53 PM

                                    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
                                      kimfair1 Jul 17, 2013 01:06 PM

                                      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
                                        Bellachefa Jul 17, 2013 08:17 PM

                                        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
                                          kimfair1 Jul 18, 2013 06:57 AM

                                          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
                                        BlueMagic Jul 17, 2013 04:49 PM

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

                                      3. re: BackBayGirl
                                        devilham Jul 17, 2013 01:39 PM

                                        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
                                          Jenny Ondioline Jul 17, 2013 02:10 PM

                                          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
                                            MC Slim JB Jul 17, 2013 02:25 PM

                                            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.


                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                              BlueMagic Jul 17, 2013 05:44 PM

                                              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
                                              devilham Jul 17, 2013 05:17 PM

                                              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
                                                opinionatedchef Jul 17, 2013 05:41 PM

                                                agree completely.

                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                  mikeinboston Jul 18, 2013 05:43 PM

                                                  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
                                                    ScubaSteve Oct 15, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                    I do light cheese extra sauce well done.

                                            3. p
                                              phatchris Jul 17, 2013 01:25 PM

                                              Have you tried Picco? My favorite pie in the city.

                                              1. The Chowhound Team Jul 17, 2013 05:25 PM

                                                Folks, we moved a digression about food criticism in general to a new thread on General Topics, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/909678 .

                                                1. d
                                                  dbarneschi Jul 18, 2013 08:11 AM

                                                  Santarpio's makes a solid bar pie, but their BBQ is terrible. On the multiple occasions that I tried it, both the sausage and the lamb were dried out and nearly flavorless.

                                                  Regina's is very underwhelming. Even when ordered well done, their pies are thick and gloppy. And don't even think about getting their margherita. They put fresh mozzarella and basil ON TOP of dried mozzarella. WTF?

                                                  My favorite pies in the city are at Posto in Davis Square, Galleria Umberto in the North End and Pinocchio's in Harvard Square.

                                                  Posto makes true Neapolitan-style pies in an imported wood fired oven. Their margherita is amazing, but the real gem on the menu is the marinara (which unfortunately will be taken off the menu very soon - not sure why). It was even featured on the pizza site Slice: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...
                                                  Posto makes some of the best fresh pastas and Italian-style meat dishes in the city as well. Be sure to book a reservation on OpenTable if you decide to go here, or plan on waiting a long time in line.

                                                  Galleria Umberto makes cheese squares that taste like school cafeteria pizza it it were made with love. Their panzerotti and arancini are both outstanding as well. Be sure to wash them all down with a Dixie cup of red wine. Yes, you heard right, a Dixie cup. Note however that GA is only open for lunch, and that they often run out pizza by 1:30 PM.

                                                  Unlike Umberto's squares, which are goopey and oily (in a good way), Pinocchio's are light and airy. The white spinach, the white zucchini and the fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella are all amazing. I also love the fact that they are open super late.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: dbarneschi
                                                    teezeetoo Jul 20, 2013 08:12 AM

                                                    if we're talking not "pizzeria" pie, Gran Gusto is far and away my favorite - used to like Basta Pasta but haven't been for too long to know whether it's held up. For pizzeria pie, Otto and Ecco's are my go tos. My grandkids still prefer Pinos pizza. go figure.

                                                    1. re: teezeetoo
                                                      dbarneschi Jul 20, 2013 09:17 AM

                                                      I used to like Gran Gusto until I tried Una Pizza Napoletana, Motorino and Keste, all in NYC. These guys introduced me to proper Neapolitan-style pies. Gran Gusto's pies are a bit dry and their crust is quite dense. It seems like they're trying to do the Neapolitan thing, but not doing it all that well. I don't think that their oven burns hot enough, or maybe they need to retool their dough recipe.

                                                      Posto is the only place in Boston that does true Neapolitan-style pies. They are even VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) certified. If you like Gran Gusto, definitely give Posto a try. I think you'll love their pies, as well as their other dishes.

                                                      1. re: dbarneschi
                                                        phatchris Jul 20, 2013 09:32 AM

                                                        I personally don't think being VPN certified automatically qualify's a pizza as great, Antico Forno is the North End is VPN qualified IIRC and there pizza is just OK.

                                                        1. re: phatchris
                                                          dbarneschi Jul 20, 2013 09:51 AM

                                                          Yes, I totally agree with you. In the case of Posto, however, they are VPN certified AND make amazing pies.

                                                          1. re: dbarneschi
                                                            teezeetoo Jul 20, 2013 11:03 AM

                                                            thanks I'll try it - my favorite pizza place in Naples is Notizia but there were so many that I didn't get to try -

                                                            1. re: dbarneschi
                                                              phatchris Jul 20, 2013 01:47 PM

                                                              I really need to get over to Posto, their brunch pizza looks right up my alley.

                                                    2. p
                                                      petuniafromhell Sep 24, 2013 11:56 AM

                                                      How is the wait in Pizzeria Regina's on a Sunday around noon - 2 pm? I'm driving from NY and grad lunch there before doing the touristy stuff...

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: petuniafromhell
                                                        MC Slim JB Sep 24, 2013 12:03 PM

                                                        Probably depends on the weather, but the last time I wandered by on a Sunday afternoon on a nice day, there was a fair line out the door, probably a 45 to 90 minute wait.


                                                        1. re: petuniafromhell
                                                          Infomaniac Sep 24, 2013 12:10 PM

                                                          This past Sunday at 1:00 about a 15 min wait for two people, and if I wasn't with my kid I could have sat down right away at the bar.

                                                          1. re: Infomaniac
                                                            huuvola Sep 24, 2013 01:45 PM

                                                            Yeah, it's variable and unpredictable, in my experience. Sometimes you can get right in on a Sunday afternoon, but I'd say 85% of the time there'll be a line -- one that typically starts around noon and remains until 3 or 4PM. As noted previously, probably a 30 to 90 minute wait, depending on when you arrive.

                                                            1. re: huuvola
                                                              devilham Sep 24, 2013 02:00 PM

                                                              That said, early birds get the worm, as I often hit there around 11-11:30 and never have to wait. I usually sit at the bar with my son (it's his favorite pizza), and the girl who works the bar on saturdays is super nice to him

                                                        2. t
                                                          TylerDurdenMass Oct 14, 2013 07:29 PM

                                                          Which santarpios?
                                                          Eastie is head and shoulders better
                                                          Also... You have to eat santarpios right away

                                                          Try again but don't do it with take out

                                                          1. b
                                                            Bellachefa Oct 14, 2013 07:37 PM

                                                            I HATE the boxes!!!!

                                                            It tasted so much better in the brown bag with an air vent poked.

                                                            Just does not travel the same.

                                                            BRING THE BAGS BACK

                                                            1. c
                                                              CportJ Oct 28, 2013 03:01 PM

                                                              The Daily Meal website just ranked 101 pizza places in the U.S. Regina is the highest rated in Boston at 22, followed by Santarpios at 29. Scampo (41), Coppa (54), Picco (76), and Galleria Umberto (85) also made the list.


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