Almost two years ago, I hopped on a bus and headed five hours north to spend St. Patrick's Day in Boston. I figured New York has its wild New Years party, so Boston's St. Patty's celebrations must be out of control. Granted, St. Patrick's fell on a Monday that year- which is when I made my trip- so I wasn't exactly expecting a grand parade right off the bus, but I still can't believe how dead the city was.
A Bostonian friend and myself roamed seemingly every neighborhood of Boston in search of at least one great bar- downtown, back bay, Cambridge, and even the Italian north end, where I found myself last weekend to try one of America's oldest pizzerias, Pizzeria Regina.
Established in 1926 in an old bakery named Regina by the Polcari Family, P.R. predates NY's John's and Patsy's by three and six years respectively. The inside of the place is cramped to say the least, and reminded me of Sally's Apizza- which brought back bad memories from the month before...
Regina rocks a wood-fired oven which, as far as I could discern from our waiter, came installed in the building from the Polcari's bread-baking predecessors.
I was warned that the pizza would be thicker than NY, but that didn't worry me. What set my expectations lower than usual was the sub-par St. Patrick's Day I had years before. If Boston's heavily Irish community can't celebrate, how good can their pizza be?
While I was waiting in line outside carefully inspecting the menu, I couldn't decide what to order. If you know me, you know I judge a place by it's plain pie, but there had to be at least three different variations on the Margherita (the "#10 Margherita" shown above).
With my head spinning, I texted Nick Sherman from Pizza Rules! A native Bostonian, I figured he'd be able to offer some words of wisdom - "Regina? You just missed me, I was there last night! I usually just get the plain," he says (or something along those lines). Good thing I had my whole family with me; I decided to get the plain ("Original North End Recipe")...
...and the #25 Fior di Latte Pomodoro...
...and the #22 Quattro Formaggio Pomodoro
...and don't forget that Margherita up there! It's a good thing the pizza was out of this world, because we scarfed the pies down like a Houdini disappearing trick. My brother-in-law said, "if you're not going to make a documentary on this place, then I will!"
Regina boasts 20 locations, which sadly, don't all have wood-fired ovens. Just before heading over the north end's original location, I stopped in to Faneuil Hall to grab some breakfast and saw one of Regina's other locations:
While they're not technically lying by saying "Boston's Brick Oven Pizza Since 1926," there's nothing but gas-fed deck ovens back there.
Disappointing, but not St.-Patrick's-in-Boston disappointing.