The masses of people tend to hover around Hanover Street in Boston’s North End, a little Italian escape within walking distance of the Garden, Faneuil Hall and Charlestown Navy Yard.
Of course, there is some great food to indulge in on this main thoroughfare, but if you wander the streets of the neighborhood for a bit, you enjoy some of the best people watching and you can find some hidden gems.
Pictured above: Gelato shops like this one pop up all over North End’s Hanover Street. The area is bustling with people heading to the cafes, restaurants and bakeries. But sometimes, you need to veer off the beaten path to find something to fill your tummy.
Pizzeria Regina isn’t so much a hidden gem off of Hanover Street, but a Boston institution. Since 1926, this little spot (which has now spawned locations in shopping malls and in the ‘burbs), is small, cozy and an experience that everyone should try. The line for a table or a booth waits outside under the heat of a warming lamp. It quickly can wrap for a block with large parties ready to enjoy some of these oven-baked jewels.
Once inside, the space is tight. Every little area is occupied by stacked pizza boxes or tables full of customers. The bathrooms are tucked away into a back corner and can barely fit two adults.
You can get your standard cheese pizzas here if you’re a picky pie eater. Otherwise, I recommend branching out and trying one of Pizzeria Regina’s gourmet options. Toppings available include zucchini, eggplant, homemade ricotta and marinara, pepperoni, meatballs, prosciutto and more. Download the Pizzeria Regina menu.
Our group opted for the “formaggio bianco,” or white pizza. Four cheeses – mozzarella, ricotta, Pecorino Romano and parmesan covers the crust and then is topped with fresh basil and a garlic sauce.
First, the thin and crisply baked crust is amazing. It’s not quite cracker-thin like some of my favorite ‘zas from back in Milwaukee, but it’s pretty close. Pizzeria Regina’s crust recipe dates back more than 80 years. They use a secret blend of natural yeast and age it.
The toppings – while we didn’t have any meat – didn’t make us feel like we were lacking any substance. There were so many different levels to the four cheeses. And, it was so ooey and gooey. The freshly chopped basil and the garlic sauce added a nice punch of flavor.
Overall, it has been one of the best pizzas I have had since moving back to New England. It has really been a struggle finding a pizza that I love and can depend on. However, I think I may have found a winner.
While it’s not always easy to make it into North End from Salem, I’m glad to know that there is a Reginas just a quick drive to Medford. While it isn’t the original location, we can still get the full menu of great eats without the trouble of driving to downtown or taking the T.
Find out more about Pizzeria Regina at www.reginapizzeria.com.