By Estefania Lahera’20
It’s that time of year again: finals. We’re tired, we’re cranky, and most importantly, we’re hungry. And let’s be honest: what’s more convenient and comforting than pizza?
But before you reach for the phone and dial up some convenient Harvard standbys that may or may not be amazing because you’ve had a tough day and just want some damn pizza stat, take a deep breathe and hear me out.
When it comes to food, I don’t settle for anything but the best. So, when I was craving pizza several months back, naturally I wanted Boston’s finest. After diligent research, I found my answer: Regina Pizzeria.
Now, you Boston natives might be saying “well duh, everyone knows that”, but as a transplant to the east coast, finding the true “best” was a bit difficult, a bit hidden under the oohs and ahhs of new wave, less traditional pizza places. I’m all for innovative takes of pizza, but not at the expense of forgetting or shunning the classics. It’s the curse of being the best. Everyone knows you’re the best, they know you are consistent, so they decide to try other new places. Which sucks. So of course, I had to go pay Regina’s a visit.
This was way back in September, and I remember it fondly. I had a great experience, but I couldn’t help leaving with a bit of regret, and not for the reason you’d expect.
You see, the menu was HUGE and tiny college-student me could only eat (and afford) so much.
And I wanted just about everything on the menu.
So many different combinations called my name, but what was a girl to do, alone in a pizzeria?
I would look crazy to order more than one pizza for one person, but I wanted to have the one best pizza in the best pizza place in Boston. How in the world would I ever know which pizza combination was the best if I only tried one?
Sure, I could go back another day, but it would be difficult to compare. Yes, it is commonly acknowledged that Regina is one of the best, but the lack of consensus of which pizza was the best was a little blemish in the Boston food reporting scene, one I was more than happy to address.
I bided my time, and when I finally joined the Crimson Crave, I called Regina’s to ask about taste testing their pizzas, so that perfectionists like me could be sure to be completely satisfied next time they visit Regina’s.
That happy day came, a day of pizza paradise, when I visited Regina’s original North End location and sampled six of their best pizzas.
So, without further ado, I give you a thorough, diverse study and ultimately a ranking of some of the pizzas Regina Pizzeria has to offer!
- The Melanzane.
This was the biggest surprise of the day, the dark horse in this pizza race that ended up being my favorite, and received equally high marks from my fellow tasters. I tacked it onto the order at the last minute, a decision I will never, never regret. Homemade ricotta with eggplant and red onions might not sound like the “go to” for pizza, but it is magic. Literal magic. I don’t know why more pizza places don’t use ricotta, because the warm, soft creaminess of it combined with the tart, crunchy onion and eggplant is to die for. Normally, I don’t even like ricotta or eggplant. I would go as far as to say that I actually dislike ricotta and eggplant. But this pizza, as one taster described it, was “like a combination of lasagna and pizza”, a perfect harmony of classics combined in a way that makes them feel new. I only slightly disagree. It was better than lasagna on pizza (probably because I don’t like lasagna!). This pizza was the perfect medium, light enough to not feel it was destroying your cholesterol, but not so light that it failed to excite the taste buds.
- The Giambotta.
The giambotta has a bit of a reputation, and I was expecting it to come out on top. But in a competition where there is no bad, just delicious and scrumptious, the giambotta came in second by an inch. The giambotta is an absolute beast of a pizza, with large chunky vegetables and three meats, because of course pepperoni is not enough; you have to throw in some sausage and salami to really kick things up a notch.
- The St. Anthony
If you’re going for a white pizza but are craving meat, this is the pizza for you. Hearty chunks of sweet, crunchy, fresh green pepper paired with various meats seems to be a (welcome) pattern at Regina’s, and the St. Anthony’s was definitely a riff on this. I am a firm proponent of going easy with the meat. Sometimes, to be fair, like with the giambotta, you need a good punch of juicy flavor, but that only works in combinations like the giambotta, paired as it is with an abundance of vegetables. Here, the pepper was enough for the sausage, and the sausage was enough for the pepper, no more, no less. The sausage in the St. Anthony was subtle, where you could actually taste the true flavor of the meat, delicate and balanced, rather than an overload of salt and pepper. This was a quiet favorite, the go to for that rainy day. It’s much more nuanced, relying on the purity of ingredients rather than powerhouse red sauces that dominate the pizza industry. It’s not new-wave inventive with bananas and hot sauce imported from Brazil or some crazy hipster combination like that, but it doesn’t have to be so far-fetched and almost forcefully inventive to be unique and standout.
- The Mediterranean.
Here’s the thing about the Mediterranean. You can really, really taste the olives. You can really, really taste that the briney sea flavor, and that’s what transports you. A taster as first remarked that it was too salty, but after taking another bite, this time with some sweet onion and the creamy feta, revoked their statement. The Mediterranean pizza (just like the Mediterranean diet!) is all about balance, and Regina’s hit it on the nail. Again, as a picky eater who dislikes feta, I was pleasantly surprised.
- The spinach E Pomodoro.
This pizza comes near the end of this list to the great protest of my fellow tasters. To them, this was their absolute favorite, a fresh, light pie with whole tomato and spinach. They loved the pure tomato-yness of it, the simplicity, the restraint. It’s my ranking though, and torn as I am, something had go near the bottom and I picked this one. It’s just not as much of a showstopper as the others, and I’m a “go big or go home kind of girl”.
That being said, if you’re craving something lighter, even lighter than the melanzane, skip over the first four pizzas in this list and go ahead and order this one. As a health nut in between bouts of indulgence like this, I would definitely recommend this pizza as a wiser choice when eating out with friends. I’m happy that Regina’s accommodates all types of eaters, not just carnivores like me!
- Meatball pomodoro.
Placing the meatball pizza near the end, like the spinach pomodoro, was controversial among my fellow tasters. They enjoyed it, especially the gentle garlic flavor, which even I couldn’t pick out. That’s actually quite the accomplishment, to incorporate garlic subtlety without the pungent flavor dominating the pizza, now that I think about it! But I had originally picked this pizza because I wanted to try something under the meat section of the menu, and was expecting little round meatballs on top of the pizza. Because I’m an idiot and didn’t do my research (on Yelp) to ascertain that assumption, I’m taking it out on this pizza and placing it last!
Just kidding. In reality, it’s only last because I don’t think most people, myself included, can handle a meat pizza without some sort of vegetable balance or light counterpart to buffer the heaviness. Were I a 250 lb football player, maybe the ranking would be different, but alas, I’m not.
Here’s the thing about Regina’s, though: regardless of the topping, every single crust is amazing. The crust just blew all of our minds because it stayed crispy in the center. I cannot tell you how many pizzas I’ve had whose crust is nice and crispy on the outside edge, sure, but once you got to the center, the crust flopped around like a soggy mess. In my opinion, they don’t advertise the brick oven enough, because I’m pretty sure that, along with their secret recipe, is what makes that crust so spectacularly “crusty” on the outside while keeping it soft on the inside.
And that red sauce…. Just perfect. It tasted fresh and tangy and just sweet enough. The garlic sauce is like a underdog that just captures everyone’s heart, and last but not least: they do not skimp on toppings. Each pizza is piled with hearty additions that makes it extra satisfying.
And that is why Regina’s is the best pizza in Boston. Not because of their amazing abundance of toppings (which are all delicious), but because, like with all important things in like (pizza, school, work) the foundation, the crust that goes for every pizza, the two main sauces, the generosity with the toppings, is solid.
And it’s for that reason that looking back, this ranking was sort of ridiculous. It was like trying to rank good, yummy, delicious, delectable, and mouth-watering. They were all good because they all had the same crust, the consistently great sauces, and a generous helping of good quality, well matched toppings. How could that every be bad?
And so in reality this ranking represents is my personal preference of toppings, but more so a confirmation that Regina Pizzeria still dominates the Boston pizza scene.
Therefore, my dear colleagues, next time you’re craving something comforting, especially this finals period when the typical schedule is suspended, just go ahead and treat yourself to some pizza from Regina’s. Best for rewarding yourself after a day spent studying or celebrating the disposal of another final.
I recommend the original North End location, but whether you go to the Fenway location, the Allston location (a twenty minute bus ride from campus!), or somewhere else in the city, a classic institution like Regina’s can’t disappoint. Fulfilling that niche intersection of convenience and quality, local chain has upheld its standards and played a significant part of Boston’s food culture for almost 100 years.
The four closest to Harvard are:
Original North End: 11 1/2 Thacher St, Boston, MA 02113
Faneuil Hall: 226 Faneuil Marketplace, Boston, MA 02109
Allston: 353 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
Fenway: 1330 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215
Reservations: none needed!
Available for take out, curbside, and via DiningIn.
Finally, feel free to follow the Crimson Crave on Instagram at @crimson_crave or if you’d like to see more about my personal food adventures, follow me at @tinyfoodtraveler!