The Greater Boston area is home to countless takeout spots where people can order pizza, including houses of pizza that typically serve Greek-style pies and sub shops that sometimes--though not always--have decent pizza. The old-fashioned family-friendly pizzerias where customers dine in are a bit tougher to find, however, unlike in parts of New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut, where they can sometimes be found around every corner. But if you look hard enough in the local area, you should be able to find a few here and there, including such spots as Santarpio's in East Boston, Denly's in Weymouth, and a well-hidden spot in Malden called Pisa Pizza, which is the focus of this review and is the type of old-school place that the Boston area seems to have fewer and fewer of each year.
Pisa Pizza is located in a mostly residential part of Malden, just south of the downtown area but easy to miss because it resides on a lesser-traveled road that eventually dead-ends in an industrial area. (Though granted, it is at the corner of Charles Street, which, while also mostly residential, gets a bit more traffic.) The restaurant is housed in the ground floor of a residential structure and looks a bit like your typical sub shop from the outside, though the interior includes an old-fashioned dining room with booths to the left and a small outdoor patio beyond the dining area, while a takeout counter sits at the entrance. The overall feel of Pisa Pizza is perhaps more like Denly's and less like Santarpio's (though they all three are old school), feeling more like a simple family restaurant than a neighborhood dining and drinking joint.
Unlike so many pizza places in the Boston area that serve Greek pies, Pisa Pizza offers thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizza that tastes a bit like those from Denly's, Bianchi's in Revere, or Armando's in Cambridge (which puts Pisa in very good company, indeed). The crust is thin but not overly so--which makes it a bit different from the foldable New York-style pizzas found at such legendary Manhattan places as Joe's and John's--while the sauce has a nice mix of herbs and spices with basil and oregano being front and center and the cheese having just the right amount of "chew" to it. Options include such familiar toppings as mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, anchovy, garlic, eggplant, and buffalo chicken, with specialty pies including ranch, bacon, and chicken; chicken and broccoli alfredo; a vegetarian medley; pesto veggie; and more. Freshly-made calzones can also be ordered at Pisa Pizza, along with salads, wings, and sandwiches. For those dining in, beer and wine are available, along with soft drinks.
When it comes to great pizza in the Boston area, Pisa Pizza isn't mentioned nearly as often as places like Santarpio's or Regina's in the North End, but those in the know often put the pies here close to or at that level. It may not be a household name, but Pisa is one that pizza lovers really need to get to at some point.
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