I’ve been dying to do a Boston North End pizza taste test for months now. And now that I’m finally fully vaxxed, I decided to finally have this food adventure. And I had to bring my parents along because we all love pizza (who doesn’t?) So, this week my parents and I headed into Boston’s Little Italy in the historic North End to try pizza from four pizzerias to answer the question: which pizza reigns supreme.
We chose four quick-service eateries that make pizza in Boston’s North End.
Our first stop is Galleria Umberto. This lunch-only spot specializes in Sicilian pizza and arancini along with a few other bites. Galleria Umberto opens at 10:45 a.m. with a limited offering. The shop closes once they’ve sold out for the day. So get there early to catch your slice. The prices are low and you can get a great taste of the North End with these cheap–but delicious–eats.
Stop number two takes us to Bova’s Bakery. Tucked toward the back of the North End on Salem Street, Bova’s is open 24 hours a day. We are here for their Sicilian-style pizza, but Bova’s churns out tons of tasty treats including mouthwatering baked goods, Italian cookies, and their famous Italian bread.
Now that we got the goods from Bova’s, we’re headed to the North End’s most famous pizza joint: Pizzeria Regina. There are now over a dozen Pizzeria Regina shops across the region, but this one on Thacher Street is the original. The brick-oven fired pizza at Regina is so beloved that it’s been named America’s Best Pizza by Tripadvisor. We were lucky to come early because usually there’s a line down the street to get into this super popular pizzeria. Though, we had a bit of a wait outside for our small cheese pizza to-go.
Our tour de pizza ends at a family favorite, Ernesto’s. This tiny pizza shop on Salem Street might be the biggest slice in Boston. One slice of pizza is a quarter of a pie–and a cheese slice is less than six bucks. Ernesto’s offers tons of unique topping variations–I love any Ernesto’s pizza with eggplant–but we just got a slice of cheese for comparison sake.
The Best Pizza in the North End?
We chose cheese pizza at each place to make it as fair as possible, but the four eateries had two distinct styles of pizza. Pizzeria Regina and Ernesto’s offer a New York style of pizza where Galleria Umberto and Bova’s sell thick, bready Sicilian-style pizza.
Overall, we preferred the New York style. Pizzeria Regina had a crispier crust while Ernesto’s was more floppy with a bit of texture from semolina on the bottom of the crust. The cheesiness and sauce were good on both pies. Between the two, it was a close call–and a split vote. Dad and I preferred Regina a hair more than Ernesto’s; Mom’s number one choice was Ernesto’s, though.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either pie. And Regina’s did have the benefit of being cooked-to-order. My tip: head to Regina if the line isn’t too long, but you won’t be upset if you end up at Ernesto’s either.
The bottom two were also split. Mom and I preferred the flavor of Umberto’s. I liked that the crust was seasoned well with olive oil and I liked the extra char on the cheese topping. Dad thought Umberto’s was burnt and preferred Bova’s because it was “cooked to perfection.”
In the end, you can’t really go wrong with pizza. It’s just about always good (except maybe in the form of a cold Lunchable!) Pizza preferences are a matter of taste. But you can’t go wrong touring the North End of Boston on a pizza scavenger hunt. It’s an inexpensive and fun way to get a taste of Little Italy.
My Final Ranking
- Pizzeria Regina (in an upset)
- Ernesto’s (our usual family fave)
- Galleria Umberto (loads of flavor)
- Bova’s Bakery (a reliable, bready slice)