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Scissors and Pie Pizza on Newbury St.

Just getting around to writing this, but better late than never! ~ two weeks ago, we were unexpectedly in town late morning, so we checked out the fairly new Scissors and Pie Pizza place on Newbury St. Given our experience , Sheryl Julian did a good job reviewing this place yesterday in the Globe.
On our visit, we sampled a few types from the very appealing display set up on a long counter as you enter the underground space.:
--fresh mozzarella, pesto, arugula, cherry tomatoes
--prosciutto cotto,potatoes w/ rosemary,mozzarella
--zucchini, eggplant, tomato,onion,herbs....

The pizzas fill half sheet pans; they are scissor-cut to order, weighed, and (while you pay) popped in a not- hot- enough- oven, removed and served to you on a board. They do more types than will fit on the long counter, so they rotate varieties throughout the day.
I don't know why, but until i tasted their melted mozzarella , i never found fresh mozzarella (or any mozzarella, for that matter) to have much taste. But this did, and also had a lovely texture. I'd like to find out its origin.

We were very surprised that all of the toppings had high quality ingredients and were very very tasty and well balanced. We pretty much agreed with Sheryl on the excellence of both the toppings and the very flavorful crust, even though , in the end, it is the thick crust that will lose me as a customer and, i'm guessing, will cause Scissors and Pie's ultimate failure as a new business. The gimmick here is that you pay by the weight, which is really not a tenable idea, imo, because the pizza is 90% crust and ends up costing way too much. Maybe that system would be fine if the pizza were just bought as a snack or pick-me-up, but it's too expensive for a pizza meal imo (~$20 for two of us as a light lunch.)

I certainly do wish them the best, but my prediction is that Scissors and Pie will not be there in June of 2015 unless they change some basic things:
--Make some or all of their pizzas as thin crust pies. Boston is just not a thick crust town.(Ya think?)
--Charge by the piece, not the weight. (Get rid of the comically awkward set up where the counter people have to walk 15 feet with a spatula of pizza to the counter-end scales/register and then back down the area to put the pizza in the oven, removing it too soon (because they're needed for other things) and delivering it to the sitting or standing customer. This involves a huge chunk of time that's bad enough when there's only a few customers, but would be disastrous with a waiting line.
-- Get rid of the ineffective owners behind the counter. Their 'newbieness' and lack of understanding of an efficiently run counter service restaurant- does not inspire confidence in the slightest. ( I really hope what I was seeing there was not the co-owning family being taught how to run the whole operation by themselves- so that the consulting? chef could return home to Roma....)

While this is my prediction, I could just as easily be 100% wrong. For those of you who have tried Scissors and Pie, what do you think? Will it succeed as it is?

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/...

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  1. I thought maybe you were going to tell us you got a haircut and a slice... groan... I too wonder about variations in mozzarella. We think t hat maybe most is part skim and the ones that use whole milk may be the creamier, meltier, less chewy, more flavorful cheese..

    1. isn't pizzeria uno thick crust? i think that it is doing well though it is not my kind of place.

      2 Replies
        1. re: C. Hamster

          What about Umberto or Pinocchio's in H. Sq.? Two of the best in town IMO.

      1. They know they have a bad name; I just don't know if they will change it. The name they chose is a direct indication of the experience of the owners - no one in their right mind would open a place on Newbury with scissors in the name and think people will not confuse it with a hair salon. It is my understanding that they have no experience as restaurateurs and are simply guys with money and thought opening a pizza joint would be a cool hobby.

        Marco, the chef, is the real deal. His food is fantastic and the ingredients are high quality. Can't remember if this was mentioned but Marco came from making pizzas at Pasta Beach, which were excellent as well.

        Marco is selling his dough in flatbread version to a handful of restaurants on Newbury St. and is trying to expand that arm of the business. The flatbread is fantastic and if you get there on a day where he's making hot flatbread sandwiches, definitely choose these over the pizza. Otherwise you may be eating it from bread baskets and on sandwiches on Newbury without knowing it.

        Glad to see people talking about this place, and esp. happy they got the review from Sheryl Julian. They needed a marketing boost (unfortunately, they are amateurs in this area as well except for their really beautiful website). Hope everyone tries it out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: OliveJones

          I totally agree with your post, OliveJones. I was surprised they flew so relatively under the radar until now, but probably best for them anyway to give them time to work out kinks.

          To answer your question, opinionatechef, I don't think Marco is planning to return to Italy anytime soon.

          1. re: OliveJones

            whew.
            < It is my understanding that they have no experience as restaurateurs and are simply guys with money, and thought opening a pizza joint would be a cool hobby. >
            PreCISEly. And exactly the impression i got at (coincidentally) Marco's Pizza, where I adore the eggplant parm, on Rt 1 in Peabody.

            (p.s. not to be nasty, but the really big guy i saw there trying to work the counter--bald or shaved head-- did not look at all like a stylish hair salon owner; might he be the husb. of the tiny woman instead ?)

            And did you feel the pizza was overpriced?

          2. is this pay-by-the-ounce a concept they copied? it seems ludicrous.

            11 Replies
            1. re: hotoynoodle

              I've only seen it in Italy before

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I've also only seen pay-by-weight pizza in Italy, but in my experience it was always a thin crust. Paying by weight for a slice consisting mostly of dough? No.

                1. re: Kat

                  I've also only seen pay by weight in Italy, but in Florence I would often buy a thick crust pizza at a bakery by weight. The thing is it would only be a few euros for a pretty big slice.

                  The prices are pretty steep at Scissors & Pie, the thing is we find pizza here astronomical regardless - our favorites are Posto, Pasta Beach, Gran Gusto and the recently discovered Pride's Piccola Napoletana in Beverly (best of the bunch, I haven't written here about it yet) and can never seem to get away with spending less than $16-$18 for a pizza with toppings. That's already three or four times what we used to pay in Italy anyhow so we're used to it. Same goes for mozzarella, burrata, prosciutto, amaros and our favorite wines! Price we pay to live in the US of A. :)

                  1. re: Bugsey34

                    wow, never heard of Pride's; sounds terrific! We tried Gran Gusto a long time ago but never returned because the kitchen totally refused to deviate from the pizza options offered, and I just happen to have a THING about "no" chefs. Posto was good but not memorable, but again, only tried once , last year iirc,and don't remember the experience. Never been to a Pasta Beach.
                    Boy oh boy, can't wait to hear the details about Pride's!

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Are you saying that you won't patronize establishments that won't cater to your off-the-menu special requests?

                      1. re: Unfoodie

                        long ago, but iirc, it was a matter of asking for scallions (which they did on another pizza) on a pizza where they weren't listed.

                        1. re: Unfoodie

                          Had to laugh but a very long time ago when Emma's Pizza was on Huron Avenue, a small take out (4-5 seats at counter) with only Emma taking (and giving) the orders while her husband made the pizza in the window. It was our 1st visit and when we tried to order a Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza, Emma in her gruff, no nonsense manner, refused, proclaiming with her heavy Italian accent, "...no two meats." As it was our first visit, it took a few seconds to realize that she would not allow two meats on a pizza (so much for a "Meatlovers" pizza). There was no way that Emma would be deterred so we settled for a 1 meat pizza. Emma's would become our favorite pizza in the Boston area and stayed that way until Emma's husband passed away many years later and Emma sold her pizza shop. Emma was pretty rough around the edges but in a very good way and they took great pride in their product. I believe that it was a philosophical thing with her about the "no two meats" thing although I never asked I just followed her policy and never again asked for two meats. On the other hand, if a restaurant has scallions, I do not know why they wouldn't put some on a pizza?

                          1. re: bakerboyz

                            Would you tell Miles Davis to use more vibrato? Artistic vision and I respect that :)

                      2. re: Bugsey34

                        My fave pizzas in Boston are indeed Posto and Area Four. I enjoyed Gran Gusto, but now I will have to try Pride's!

                        1. re: Trumpetguy

                          Will start work on a write-up of Pride's right now!

                        2. re: Bugsey34

                          There used to be a place in Harvard Square that sold Roman-style pizza by weight. I've also bought some amazingly good pizza by weight at the Whole Foods in Burlington - they have a real wood-burning brick oven right in the store.

                    2. I expect the reason Shultz keeps finding it empty is the fact that the prices seem preposterous. A location on Newbury Street is already one big strike against it. Not a promising gamble.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        the rent is likely astronomical, but the street swarms with tourists who probably won't be back. one and done.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          slim, glad to hear your thoughts on the pricing. Is Shultz a trade name for Sheryl?

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Sorry, stupid multi-tasking error on my part: I meant Sheryl Julian.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        2. Charging by the pound for pizza that's mostly crust? Sounds like a sick joke to me, and unless they change that, I'll be rooting for them to fail. That's a completely unacceptable attempt at profiteering IMO.

                          20 Replies
                          1. re: KWagle

                            Are all of the toppings the same price by weight too? May be possible to game the system, i.e., load up on truffles, say.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              The review says "Pizza cut and priced by weight (60 cents to $1.05 an ounce). Average cost is $5 for a 5-inch square. Half pizzas ($20-$40) serve 4 to 5; full pizzas ($40-$75) serve 8 to 10."

                              That's pretty steep IMO, especially if they're trying to fill you up on bread. Pinocchio's prices are about half of the average cost, and I find their crust quite good (but the toppings there are scant.) That's where I'd go if I wanted to try to fill up on bread.

                              1. re: KWagle

                                the spendiest pizza i could think of would be lobster pizza at scampo and that is $27. a thick-crust pizza is literally a few pennies more worth of dough than thin-crust. sounds like highway robbery to me.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  In the past I have ordered a well-done sausage/garlic Sicilian along with an additional pepper/onion Sicilian from Imperial Pizza in Brighton center.

                                  That order fed 8 with leftovers, Total was under thirty dollars. I left five in the tip jar.

                                  Those are Una Pizza Napoletana prices without the background. Count me out.

                                  1. re: hyde

                                    It's actually worse than I originally thought. Not only are they charging by the ounce for bread, they're charging *more* per ounce of bread depending on what toppings you choose. That's like paying twice as much for a pepperoni pie as for a cheese pie.

                                    So once again I reiterate: I'm hoping they fail.

                                    1. re: KWagle

                                      Wow, the negativity. Is it me, or is there maybe one person in this entire thread who knows of Roman style pizza al taglia? (I mean you, BobB!)

                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza_al...

                                      Negativity + ignorance = I hope this place I don't understand fails. What is this, yelp?

                                      I for one happen to love pizza al taglia. Gabriel Bonci is something of a hero to me, and his Roman joint Pizzarium perhaps the best reason to venture over Vatican way. There are perhaps a handful of true Roman style pizza joints in this country (maybe 5?), and this is surely one.

                                      Are they as good as Bonci's Pizzarium? (Or MyPie in NYC?). No. At least not yet. I first happened upon this spot weekends ago. Met the chef (the younger guy with the ropy muscles, not the big guy) and tried an array of slices. I told him I'd met Bonci at Pizzarium and been to MyPie, and was quizzed as to what I thought of his rendition. I was full of praise, with one important criticism: the crust lacks that serious, rustic crunch that the best al taglia has. He nodded vigorously and the smaller woman with the short hair came over - they were in total agreement and quite obviously steamed at receiving the wrong trays from Italy for the second time. He insisted I come back within the next few weeks to try again. I will gladly do so!

                                      But I'm frankly embarrassed by the lack of pizza knowledge on display in this thread. I mean, c'mon, Hounds! Pizza al taglia is not Chicago deepdish. It's not Sicilian. Nor is it's existence an insult to a NY style pizza lover or those who prefer the wonderful Napolitano. This is Roman style pizza and Scissors and Pie is a totally legit, totally committed version of that style. And, yup, it's cut with scissors and weighed just like this in Rome, too. In short, it's the real deal. Crust issues aside, and I expect that to improve. Perhaps they can also borrow Bonci's 300 year old Umbrian yeast starter (he's very generous with it).

                                      I consider myself lucky to have a true Roman pizza al taglia spot in the neighborhood and I surely hope that certain hidebound preconceptions don't kill it before it has a chance to find itself and flourish.

                                      1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                        If there's one thing I've learned from Chowhound, it's that my instincts are often wrong, and places that strike me as unpromising initially often turn out to be worthwhile. This place could be one of those.

                                        But I'm waiting for someone else whose opinion I trust to take a chance this time around. The pricing just seems outrageous at first face.

                                        For me to actively root for a place to fail, it has to have some evil associated with it, like Jordan-Tobins-level scumbag / asshole owners.

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          I think the notion that you're paying for dough - and thus getting ripped off - overlooks the immense quality of the ingredients. OpinionatedChef mentioned the mozzarella, and it is indeed nearly as good as what one finds in Italy. It is shockingly difficult too achieve that level of creaminess and flavor. Many have tried, all have come up at least a little short: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/mag...

                                          I doubt they're seeing this thread, but it would be wonderful if a couple of our finest Italy focused Hounds - namely Elizabeth Minchilli and Katie Parla - could taste the S&P al taglia. I'd love to hear their thoughts!

                                          As for myself, the crust needs to improve. The very best versions are highly inventive with the combinations and very selective of the ingredients, but the crust has to be right. The pans are certainly important (as are the ovens, etc.), but the dough itself and how it's worked is apparently just as key as noted by our fellow boardmember, Elizabeth Minchilli, after a class with Bonci:

                                          http://www.elizabethminchilliinrome.c...

                                          1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                            I should put up Elizabeth's Pt.2 piece on pizza al taglia toppings per the Bonci masterclass (great photos). Bonci is the standard against which all comers are judged. He elevated the style and is its best ambassador and teacher. This is what Scissors & Pie aspires to.

                                            Pizza as canvas: http://www.elizabethminchilliinrome.c...

                                            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                              rm, I am always intrigued to learn more from knowledgeable folks. As to your comment about Yelp type comments, I will mention that this board, imo, has a lot of snark and hostility ingrained in its longer-involved residents (compared to many of the other CH boards.)

                                              I do have a question about 'Roman' vs 'Neopolitan' style pizza. When I lived in Rome 'molti molti ani fa' the only pizza I ate and saw was thin crusted. So when I think of pizza in rome, I think of Pizzeria Regina ( No.End only)- which has always been the closest to my Rome pizza. I don't remember ever seeing thick crusted pizza in rome.
                                              Is this 'Roman al taglia style' just a small subset of roman pizza?

                                              Also, the S&P pizza- is their pricing what you are used to? it seems to be very high for many of the Boston CHs, me included.

                                              1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                It's fine to pay more for toppings, but pricing the *dough* at a higher price per pound if you order expensive toppings is literally profiteering IMO. The dough doesn't cost *them* any more if they top it with truffles and live monkey brains.

                                              2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                I'm definitely interested in trying the place out. The fact that someone whose tastes are almost always at odds with my own doesn't care for the place bodes well, and I'm by no means against a thick crust if it's quality. (Shrieking that "YOU'RE PAYING FOR DOUGH!!!1!" is hilarious: might as well go turn up your nose at a Clear Flour baguette straight out of the oven, since after all, if you buy that, "YOU'RE PAYING FOR DOUGH!!!!!1!") I just haven't happened to be on Newbury Street at lunchtime recently.

                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                  in fairness, its most staunch defender is saying the dough is not yet right.

                                                  if i'm throwing dough for dough it should be spot-on. like an excellent baguette. the complaints about the dough for boston pizza are legion and correct.

                                              3. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                I haven't posted here because I don't like to be negative and because I really don't like the clique-ish nature of this forum but I grew up in Rome and continue to return to the city.

                                                First of all it's pizza al TAGLIO if anyone is interested in learning more and secondly while this is Roman style, it isn't really done right if those are the parameters.

                                                The crust is much too thick; places in Rome don't do it like this and it was what surprised me. I have been 3 times so I don't think I caught them on a bad day.

                                                If you have eaten at My Pie in NYC you will know that it is significantly thinner and also less expensive in spite of being in NYC.

                                                To be honest, the pizza at Iggy's comes closer to being the right dimensions.

                                                Neither place has the kind of volume necessary to really be a Roman place because they do very high volume usually and have trays coming out all the time but Scissors and Pie will likely not become that kind place with their current practices,

                                                1. re: retrofabulousity

                                                  I like your thoughtful replies and it you’re up for it, I think we could use more of that.

                                                  1. re: retrofabulousity

                                                    The models for pizza al tagliOH! for me are Bonci's and Roscioli's pizza bianco. And I think MyPie is also in that league. But I didn't find Scissors and Pie's crust notably thicker than either of the above, but certainly less substantial. And I do think this is a significant issue for them. They're aware of it and claim to be working on it.

                                                    Retro, did you also find it to be lacking texturally? Like it's a bit too close to a softer Sicilian style? For me, I wanted a heavier crunch on the bottom, with swirling masses of knotty, chewy textures on the inside. A very old-school sort of bread, something quite rustic and substantial. S&P's crust isn't delicate exactly, but it's too much in that direction, and too consistent in texture.

                                                    (Don't get me wrong - I still found it delicious - but these folks are trying to achieve a particular perfection and it's not there. Yet.)

                                                    Since I'm dealing out (constructive, I hope) criticism, I have to ask ... why Newbury Street? A Pizzeria Uno would likely do better there. The rents are surely too high. The decor is simply too nice. At Pizzarium - even newly renovated - there's barely space for a small line, the counter, and a little fridge of Italian craft beer. And it's on a grotty little side street near a bus station. MyPie is very similar.

                                                    And I think Retro's point about the volume of customers is quite insightful. I know these guys have been dinged on the marketing end - and I'm certainly no expert here - but it seems to me that they've invested too much in the wrong location, in a too refined atmosphere, and on that slick, heavy stock menu/advertising sheet. It should be no frills like Galleria Umberto. And I'd like to see a beer & wine situation that leans heavily on local and Italian craft beer (I'm a hardcore wino, but not with pizza).

                                                    I want these guys to get it right and to succeed. I know it ruffles some feathers when people say it, but Boston is still something of a backwater on the food scene. I know we'll never aspire to be the next San Sebastian, but in Scissors & Pie we have a unique place attempting to bring a very specific product to this market. And they seem totally sincere and committed to doing it right.

                                                    And let's face it - there are very few Italian spots in this area that are doing much at all right (I don't mean Italian-American - we have plenty of that). I can't bring myself to criticize the Scissors folks when there are places that fail in the simplest dishes.

                                                    One example of total Boston failure: the "carbonara" at Antonio's on Cambridge St. This place somehow merits good reviews in the local press, Zagats, etc. But go order that Carbonara like I did that day when my wife was at MGH. As you marvel at this bowl of pure white goo, notice that it doesn't even have pepper much less guanciale (or even pancetta). I don't even think it contained eggs. Just a big heavy, soggy bowl of glue-spackled pasta. It is in my experience the worst excuse for Roman cuisine this town has to offer. And there are some awful examples out there. But this is the sine qua non of terrible Americanized carbonara. Zagat's rates Antonio's as "Excellent" and the Globe calls it a "treasure".

                                                    So, yeah, I hope S&P gets it right.

                                                    1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                      I think it's safe to say we all would want them to get it right, and become a thriving business (especially in light of the fact that it is a specific style, a style I was unaware of before your posting, which has me now definitely wanting to at least give them a try before judging...a good policy in any case), it's just that price scale (and again, judging from your posts, that's how it's done with this style...who knew?) does sound steep. I will check them out at some point though to make my final judgement. Would like to hear from some other CH'rs who've been there though, before venturing in.

                                                      1. re: devilham

                                                        Be sure to check out MyPie in midtown NYC if you find yourself down there! And if you happen to be in Rome...

                                                        1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                          Will do Ricardo, sadly, my family was planning a vacation in NYC this year, but had to call it off due to a hot water heater malfunction (expensive!), so hopefully next year!

                                                      2. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                        Hi there,

                                                        Scissors' pizza is definitely thicker than the models you referenced and you can even see that from photos online if you hunt around.

                                                        "Retro, did you also find it to be lacking texturally? Like it's a bit too close to a softer Sicilian style?"

                                                        100% yes and this is perhaps the most significant problem; it was too soft and "doughy." I'm not a big fan of that style of crust and I had never eaten anything like it in years of eating pizza al taglio all the time in Rome.

                                                        Like I said before, the square slices they make at Iggy's in Cambridge or Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC as well are way more like what they make in Rome in terms of the crust definition and height of the slice.

                                      2. Their website spells pezzo (piece) PETZO. That's like spelling pizza PITZA. Are these guys Italian? Does not inspire confidence.

                                        Volturno Pizza in Worcester as seen on Chronicle a few months back sounds authentic although Neapolitan style.
                                        Anyone been?

                                        1. I just had pizza there last night. My experience was very different. I found the crust about as thick as Ottos's (but somewhat better--crisp and flavorful)--nothing like Uno, which is what I think of as thick crust. And it was plenty hot enough (at the line between ready-to-eat and tongue burning). Maybe they have improved in the past weeks, or maybe it's a matter of opinion. I loved their white mushroom pizza as well as their white potato w/ ham. The red pizzas appealed less. And I like the weighing by the pound idea--you get to decide if you want smaller or larger pieces of each combination.

                                          All that said, the place was practically empty. I hope that was a fluke--the staff seemed earnest and hard working, and I thought the pizza was excellent.