Author Topic: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)  (Read 10722 times)

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Offline elicheez

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New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« on: September 01, 2006, 08:49:37 PM »
I was stunned to open a box of pizza from Cowlick's Deli in Needham and find a pretty good NY street-style pizza! I thought everywhere around here was Greek style (nothing wrong with that!). Give it a try if you're in the area. Any other NY-style pizzas around here?


Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2006, 03:45:29 AM »
Elicheez, I am going to copy some info here from one of my first posts on the forum.  This is a list of some of my favorite places around town.  I made a few updates.  There is nothing here as good as what you can find in NYC, but there is some decent pizza worth checking out.

Regina's in the North End is probably the best Italian style pizza we have.  Just make sure you go to that location, and not one of the mall/Fanuel Hall locations.  The North End is our Little Italy, and is absolutely gorgeous.  They have a fairly good sauce, and unlike most places around here they actually put on a decent amount.  The mozzarella seems to be whole milk and has a pretty good flavor.  They have an 80 year old gas fired oven that gets up into the 700's. This place is no Sally's, but at least they seem to care about the ingredients.   They have one pizza, the polo pesto that is out of this world good.  Even though they have only an average (way above average for Boston) crust, sauce, and mozzarella, they have the best ricotta I have ever encountered.  It pretty much tastes like cream cheese.  The pesto is pretty insane as well.  They also have bottles of flavored oil scattered around the pizzeria to add to the pizza.  It has an amazing flavor.  My favorite one seems to contain whole fresh garlic cloves, romano cheese, pepper flakes, and a touch of oregano.  Some of their pizzas have this in place of the red sauce.  The polo pesto pizza has grilled chicken, ricotta, pesto, mozzarella, fresh basil (added after it is out of the oven), and a bruschetta topping for sauce. For those that don't know, bruschetta topping is fresh roma tomatoes marinated in salt, pepper, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil,  and garlic. This pizza is outstanding, and this is coming from someone who likes classic simple pies with few toppings, which this obviously isn't.

Another one of the better places in the city is Santarpios. They have a very basic menu with very few toppings for the pizza.  The toppings are high quality, and they probably have the best sausage and pepperoni you can find around the city.  They also have an old gas oven that can get pretty hot. My main complaint is that the dough is on the tough side, but this place is still worth checking out. They use Pastene tomatoes, which I have found to taste the closest to Escalon one of the best brands you can find. Depending on what day you go, both of these pizzerias are about equal.  Regina has the edge, as far as the more creative toppings go, and that polo pesto masterpiece.

There is a new place with two locations called The Upper Crust that is pretty good.  It is similar in quality to Regina, and Santarpios and uses high quality creative toppings.  Unfortunately the crust is also on the tough side because it is formed with a rolling pin.  The sauce might be the best of the three, mostly comprised of large fresh tasting chunks. Unfortunately they have dropped the ball on the cheese. Rumor has it that the owner used to be a Pepe's employee, and I believe it because the quality is up there.  They might have even stolen the crust recipe. Unfortunately, I think they need the ultra hot oven to get that dough to work right.  

Another place that comes up all the time on peoples best of Boston pizza lists is Emmas.  They use a crust that is the thinnest and most brittle of any cracker crust variety I have encountered.  They have all kinds of fancy toppings, and interesting cheese choices.  Unfortunately I just can't get over that crust.  I prefer cracker crusts that still have some moisture left in them.

While I am on the subject of cracker crusts, we do have an exceptional version of that one here.  For some reason, it never gets any press, or mention in any of the Boston "favorites" lists.  I highly recommend it.  The place is called Bar 10, and it is in the Westin hotel right in Copley square.  They have an amazing chewy, crisp, ultra thin crust that almost reminds me of an Indian Nan bread crossed with a cracker crust.  Try to get one with the roasted tomatoes.  The cheese is top quality, with a nice buttery flavor.  They finish most of their pizzas with a drizzle of garlic/basil infused oil.  Unfortunately when I crave Pizza I usually want more of a traditional Italian style pie, but this place is definitely worth visiting.

There are two places called New York Pizza that I like, one on Mass Ave, and one on Tremont st. in the theater district.  They are not affiliated with each other. They both sell slices quite late, and are pretty close to your average New York style pizza.  The Mass ave location uses Grande cheese, and might have the edge over the Tremont one, but they are both pretty similar.   I just found out that the tremont location changed hands after 15 years, and right now I have no idea if the quality is still there.

There is some really good Italian style pizza north of Boston.  One of the better pizzerias is called Sal's, or Sal's Just Pizza.  I actually think it is as good as the better NY street pizzas.  They have a bunch of locations, with the closest being about a half hour drive.  There are some in New Hampshire, as well as Massachusetts.  My wife likes it even better than Regina's.  It is also incredibly inexpensive.

When I first moved to Boston in 1990, we had an AMAZING pizzeria called Bertucci's.  It was some of the best pizza I have ever had.  Top quality everything.  It was basically an authentic Pizza like what they have in Naples, possibly even using 00 flour, but with a really high end dry mozzarella instead of fresh.  This is where I saw my first real wood burning oven.  Unfortunately it turned into a chain and the pizza quality dropped dramatically.  As soon as the name was sold to the new owners they changed the dough recipe, and the quality went way down.  Every now and then they actually par bake crusts, and the pizza is horrible.  The newer locations don't even burn wood, but if you go to one of the older ones you can still get pizza worth checking out.  I know the coply square, harvard square locations still burn wood.  If you look in the oven and see gas flames don't even bother.

I should probably cover some of the regional pizza styles  that we have here.  People that grew up with these especially go crazy over them.  One style is quite prevalent north of Boston.  I also find this style in the Rhode Island area, although down there it is usually found with a sprinkle of romano or Parmesan instead of mozzarella.  This pizza is usually found in Italian bakery's.  One of the most popular versions is in Lawrence Mass at the Tripoli bakery. It is a square slice, but is not as thick as the typical Sicilian.  Like most Greek and Sicilian style pizza, the dough is left to rise in a pan, but typically the pan is not oiled first.  Tripoli has a REALLY sweet sauce, and offers your choice of mozzarella or provolone cheese.  These pizzas are made in huge sheet pans, and are therefore usually only offered by the slice.  It seems like they have basically designed this pizza to be able to sit out at room temperature for hours and still taste good.  A few of the more popular places,  like Tripoli, offer the slices hot from the oven.

Another regional specialty we have here can be found only in the south, between Boston and Rhode Island.  It is sometimes referred to as pub pizza, or bar pizza.  It is basically a better version of the typical Greek pizza that is found all over the Boston area.  One main difference is that it is only found in one size, small.  The other main difference is that the pan is oiled before the dough is put in.  Like the typical Greek pizza here, it uses a white cheddar/mozzarella blend, and small amounts of thinned out sauce with a healthy dose of oregano in it.  To me all of these places are pretty much the same, but other people have their favorites.  The more popular places are The Town Spa, The Linwood Cafe, Christo's, The Cape Cod Cafe, and Damian's Pub.

Picco is another new pizzeria in bostons south end that is worth checking out.  Like the upper crust, the owner was inspired by the pies at pepe's.  The pizza here uses very unusual cheese and sauce.  There are tons of excellent topping choices, but the pizza here is expensive.  Some people really love the pies here, and I do crave them on occasion.

Little Steevies pizza is a boston landmark that makes NY style pizza.  The problem with this place is that they make a bunch of pizzas and then let them sit around all day to reheat for slices. Because of this, and the unusual characters that tend to hang around there, Little Steevies has a bad reputation around town.  If you order a fresh pie you will would be surprised at how good the pizza is.

Offline enchant

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2006, 07:55:57 AM »
Scott, that's a GREAT roundup of the area's pizza.  And I totally agree with you about Bertucci's.  I used to love their pizza, and if I was in the mood to travel and spend a few extra bucks, that's where I'd go.  About twelve years ago, I worked in Wakefield.  (And since you're familiar with the area, you understand the hellish commute that I had coming from Marshfield.)  About five miles away from where I worked was Bertucci's test kitchen.  They had an abbreviated menu with slightly reduced prices on their standard stuff, but they'd always be trying something new, and that would be sold very cheaply.  It was a great deal.

After not going to Bertucci's for several years (pretty happy with what I was getting locally), my wife and I stopped at the Hingham restaurant several months ago.  I was appalled.  There are probably ten pizza joints in Marshfield that are better. I was amazed at how packed the place was on a weeknight, especially considering the price - about $13 for a (crummy) single-serve pizza and $7 for a glass of house wine.  Probably not unusual for downtown Boston or Manhattan, but this is deep in the burbs.
--pat--

Offline elicheez

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2006, 01:33:11 PM »
thanks, Scott. I grew up around here and have been to a lot of those places. I love Greek and bar pizza, but after spending some time in NY I really appreciate a good NY slice. Picco is next on my list to try. I should try Regina in the North End, too. I tried their location in Cambridge and wasn't impressed. Neither was anyone else- it closed after a few months.

Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2006, 01:00:32 AM »
enchant, damn I wish we could relive the old bertucci's again.  Just the rolls were worth their weight in gold.  Now this place is just existing because of its prior location and cheap pasta dishes. This place has turned into the olive garden. That's interesting about the test kitchen.

The north end regina's seems totally different than any of the other locations.  I have heard rumor that the ovens were duplicated for the Polcari's restaraunts, so you might have better luck at those if you don't want to deal with the north end.  Definitely try to get the polo pesto, even if you think you have had pies like that in the past and know what it is like.

Offline elicheez

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2006, 08:10:17 AM »
now that you mention it, the Cambridge location was a Polcari's, and they said something like "featuring Pizzeria Regina pizza".

have you tried Crazy Dough's? they appear to make NY style and claim to use good ingredients. there's actually one right next to Little Steve's. maybe they did that on purpose to automatically look good by comparison.

Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2006, 12:32:32 PM »
I am not a big fan of their dough because it is really tough and heavy, maybe that is why they call it crazydough? I have trouble eating two slices and often want to curl up and go to sleep after eating there.  They use high gluten flour with a low hydration, mix for a long time, and don't proof for long enough. They do have a really good sauce though, and the buffalo chicken pizza there is great.  I prefer Stevie's if I get a fresh one.  Stevie's uses a very wet fully fermented dough so you get a nice light crust that is soft on the inside, and crispy on the outside.  They also use a really tasty cheese, but the sauce is not as good as crazydough's and they sometimes forget the pizza is in the oven, or undercook it.

Unfortunately they are wildly inconsistent, but for straight up NY street style pizza I think the New York Pizza on Mass ave and Tremont can be even better than little Stevie's.  The dough management here is not good at all, with the place sometimes serving pizzas with gummy dough that is past it's prime, but if you get a good one the pizza is excellent.  They use grande cheese and quality sauce.  The dough also has a really good flavor to it.

The best I have found for NY street style in Boston is a place called Jaybo.  It is in a small foodcourt on winter st. between downtown crossing and the boston commons.  It is closer to the tremont (commons) side.  The first place in the food court is a Chinese restaraunt, then there is a middle eastern eatery, a sushi bar, and finally at the back is the pizzeria.  This whole food court is smaller than most pizzerias, and Jambo's doesn't even have a phone (or mention anywhere on the web).  The good news is that the pizza seems to be very consistent.   I am pretty sure this place is only open for lunch and early dinner, as they cater to the 9-5ers in this downtown location.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 06:11:40 PM by scott r »

Offline petesopizza

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2006, 01:57:34 PM »
Try Marc Anthonys in Onset Ma. Awesome pizza!!!
Someday I will make money from this obsession.

Offline elicheez

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2006, 05:52:34 PM »
I'll have to try Jambo's. any opinions on Picco?

I lived near Little Steve's a few years ago. I've heard they've improved, but back then they were just serving super-greasy slices to the post-bar crowd.

Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2006, 06:13:24 PM »
elicheez,  I had some time to drive by the pizzeria today and I went back and updated my post.  I had the name wrong.  It is Jaybo pizza.

I just wanted to clarify that I don't think this is the best pizza in Boston, just the closest we have to authentic NY street style pizza.  Picco is great pizza and you should try it!
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 06:14:58 PM by scott r »


Offline elicheez

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2006, 08:39:48 PM »
thanks for the leg work! yeah, Greek/bar style is *probably* still my favorite, and I don't expect to find great NY pizza around here... I mean, Bostonians don't really take to anything with "NY" in the name. But it would be nice to be able to get a decent slice when the craving comes around.

Offline enchant

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2006, 02:11:50 PM »
I mean, Bostonians don't really take to anything with "NY" in the name.
I know.  Who would have thought that the home town of a team like the Yankees could be capable of such great pizza?

 >:D
--pat--

Offline ebpizza

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2006, 01:18:41 PM »
scott,

Have you ever tried Newbury Street Pizza? or Bianchi's on Revere Beach?



http://www.hiddenboston.com/BianchisPizza.html
« Last Edit: September 24, 2006, 01:45:57 PM by ebpizza »

Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2006, 03:36:53 AM »
eb,  I live three blocks from newbury pizza, so it is a staple.  The crust is too bready for me to list as a favorite, though.  I do like Bianchi's, but I have heard that it is only a fraction of the quality that it once was.

Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2006, 04:16:14 PM »
Boston pizza update.

Today I decided to hit jaybo pizza.  It was good, very reminiscent of NY style pizza, very very close, but still "average" Ny pizza.  I figured it was time to hit New York Pizza on tremont right down the street (in the theater district).  A few weeks ago I reported with sadness how the old owners were being forced out.  I wasn't expecting much, but what I found was actually an improvement in some ways.  The new owners have at least for now kept some of the old employees.  My major gripe is that they had a bunch of pizzas sitting out with various toppings ready for a reheat.  The old NY pizza kept fewer pies waiting around so your slices were usually still warm from the initial bake.  The good news is that the crust is better than ever.  It was one of the best NY style crusts, if not the best I have found in Boston.  I also noticed that there were boxes of grande lying around.  The old owner used Empire, which is almost half the price of grande, so at least the new guys are not afraid to spend some money on their product.  The sauce tasted exactly like the old NY pizza sauce, which in my opinion is too salty and seasoned, but overall the pizza was just as good if not better than before.

Offline enchant

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2006, 05:24:40 PM »
I just read a review of them on citysearch.com.  They didn't rate the pizza highly, but said:

"A better option is a grinder made on fresh Italian bread; the steak and cheese is loaded with steak and slathered in just enough mayonnaise."

Mayonnaise on a steak and cheese?  I've had my share of good cheese steaks (lived in south Jersey for a year), but I had no idea that mayonnaise was part of the recipe.
--pat--

Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2006, 05:52:27 PM »
Mayo on a cheese steak........Welcome to Boston my friend.




What place got the review, cowlicks?

Offline enchant

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2006, 06:04:24 PM »
No - New York Pizza.

http://boston.citysearch.com/profile/4730165/boston_ma/new_york_pizza.html

I don't get into the city much, but I've had many at sub shops out in the burbs.  Is this a Boston inner-city thing?
--pat--

Offline scott r

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2006, 07:07:01 PM »
that's funny, the only two things mentioned about the pizza in the review are the exact opposite of what I just tried. 

"the crust too tough to chew".  Today's crust was so light and delicate it made me almost think the pizza was made with caputo, and it is really made with all trumps!

"the sauce is tasteless".  This is my main gripe with the place.  The sauce is way too seasoned!

Offline pizza king

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Re: New York pizza... in Boston! (Cowlicks Deli)
« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2006, 02:28:29 PM »
Wow how did i miss this discussion... I have to say I agree with scott on most points. but some how i really hate!!! upper crust. i think they taste like a mix between greek pizza and italian. I don't like the dough and the cheese is way to greesy...

I do miss !!! real bertucci's i grew up on it . I use to eat at one when i was a little kid in brockton and play bacci.

I have Cowlicks they are good. I use to like Kosta's too ...I Kosta's not to long ago i it was not that good any more. There are some place out of the way that have famous pizza but just a boston thing Like town SPA in stoughton and Deninos. Deninos is greasy pizza in the world different taste its is its own style definitly not NY style but not greek either and its good stuff !!!...

If you willing to travel north of the city. There are a lot of different place that are good... I would go to Sommerville has Mama Lisa. I had a reheat slice there kind of tons of grease again but not to bad they used Pastene sauce and they used SL flour... Someone told me the Leone's next door has great sicilian. I have not vertured back.

I would definitly make my way to Pizza Mia in Willimington. It is the best pizza i had in a while!!! I think they use San Benito heavy pizza sauce. They have really good sauce and really good cheese.. and the taste is just like most places in NY. even reheats good.

I know its been discussed before. But i tried Jon's in Chelsea i enjoyed that pizza as well. Just you have to go to Chelsea and who wants to go there.