What's With Massachusetts Pizza??

A friend of mine from boarding school recently posted a link on Facebook to an article in the New Haven Register. It was about the passing of Flora “Flo” Consiglio, the matriarch of our favorite pizza joint - Sally's Apizza. A hole in the wall in New Haven's Little Italy neighborhood, Sally's is world famous for their delicious thin crust pizza.

Our boarding school had strict rules, we weren't allowed to venture more than 10 minutes away from campus. Getting to Sally's required a 20 minute walk to the train station, a 15 minute ride in to New Haven, and then another 10 minute walk through some relatively sketchy neighborhoods. Sally's pizza was worth the risk.

On our first trip to Sally's a rough looking man stopped us on the streets of New Haven and snarled "You guys looking for Sally's?" When we told him we were (in the best big-boy voices we could muster up) he pointed over his shoulder and slowly said "Go up two blocks and then take a left". After we thanked him and continued on our way we heard him yell from behind us "That's good f***ing pizza man... good f***ing pizza!"

What he was saying, in a crude way, was "That's good pizza you little boarding school brats - you better appreciate it!" Well, he was right, the Consiglios made good f***ing pizza. Hand stretched dough, thick tomato sauce and a blend of cheeses were all slowly cooked to perfection (i.e. crispy and slightly burnt) in their coal fired brick ovens. Until this day, it's the best I've ever had.

When I came back to Massachusetts to go to college I couldn't find any place that was even close to Sally's. At first I thought I was just having a string of bad luck or going through some sort of reverse karma. However, after about four years (I'm a little slow on the uptake) it hit me, for the most part Massachusetts has awful pizza. How could this be? We're just one small state north of Connecticut.

Upon further examination I discovered the root cause - most Massachusetts "pizza" joints are actually Greek restaurants masquerading as pizza places. Let me be clear - I have nothing against Greeks. My wife of 12 years (happy anniversary honey) is half Greek and my kids are therefore 25% Greek. Furthermore I have nothing against all these local Greek restaurants, their subs are almost always good and better yet is the (wait for it)... Greek food! Their pizza, however, not so much.

Some locals who've never been exposed to good pizza will say that its a matter of opinion and that they actually prefer Greek style pizza. All I can say to them is that their opinion is wrong. Either their taste buds are broken or they've learned to tolerate the local stuff as a coping mechanism. Other people will say pizza is pizza, what's the difference? Well, for anyone in this camp, let me spell it out:

  Italian Style Pizza Massachusetts /
Greek Style Pizza
Looks Like This
The Dough Made with flour, salt and water and then hand stretched Made of thick cardboard
The Sauce Thick tomato sauce Not as thick tomato sauce (I think it might actually be pasta sauce)
The Cheese A blend of shredded cheeses (quarterbacked by mozzarella) are sprinkled on top of the sauce A heavy layer of salty whoknowswhat cheese completely covers the sauce
How It's Cooked Slowly in a brick oven until the ingredients melt together. Quickly in a regular metal oven
Grease Factor Any grease run-off from the toppings (e.g. pepperoni) sits above the cheese where you can either dab it off with a napkin or simply enjoy its deliciousness The grease sinks into the cardboard crust
How You Feel After Full, but content Bloated and dehydrated
Nutritional Info
(1 Plain Slice)
Calories: 140
Total Fat: 3.2g
Cholesterol: 9mg
Sodium: 336mg
Protien: 7.7g
Calories: 195*
Total Fat: 4.6g*
Cholesterol: 15mg*
Sodium: 437mg*
Protien: 8.4g*
* I completely made these numbers up.

Now that you know the difference, you'll know not to order pizza from a Greek restaurant. However, as I mentioned before, many Massachusetts Greek restaurants are disguised as pizza places. So the trick is recognizing when you're in a Greek "pizza" place. Luckily I've come up with some guidelines to help you out - you're probably in a Greek "pizza" place if:
  • Its name contains the phrase "House of Pizza", the word "Village" or a Greek guy's name (e.g. "Nick's").
  • The people behind the counter speak Greek to each other. You don't have to know Greek to spot it - it's distinguishable by its pace (fast), decibel level (loud), accompanying hand gestures, and an abundance of words that end in vowels. 
  • On one of the walls there's a picture of the Parthenon and/or a map of Greece.
  • One of the items on the menu is a "Gyro" (which is what you really should get).


  1. Couldn't agree more, at least about the pie at the HoPs - "Skata!!!" (In the words of the Most Interesting Man in the World's doppelgänger)
    However, can't say I agree that there is no go pizza anywhere in MA - Dare I say Espresso!

    1. Bry (a.k.a. BGauvs),

      Thanks for reading and your comments - the first two on my blog!! I hope that one day you're the answer to the trivia question "Who was the first person to add a comment on Grumpy Guy".

      In regards to your point that there are good pizza places in Massachusetts - I definitely agree there are good pizza places. I exaggerated a little for effect (poetic license?).I think Espresso in Medford is OK (haven't eaten there in many, many years). I've heard the one in Fitchburg is good too (according to your cousin Eric they're not related). I'm personally a fan of Sorrento's in Acton and Concord. Also note:

      - I was careful not to say "all" Massachusetts places were awful (I used the word "most").
      - A ton (the majority?) of the pizza places here are Greek and so far everyone seems to agree that their pizza isn't so great.
      - None of the ones I've tried here (Greek or Italian) hold a candle to Sally's.

  2. Haha....So true! I wonder who the Greeks learned the recipe from????? I bet it's much better in Greece! Best pizza in MA is Mistral's Beef tenderloin, mash potatoes, and truffle oil.

  3. Ok, I have to agree with Bry...Espresso's in the Burg is good, sauce is amazing! I agree with the Greek pizza situation, usually really greasy too. So Villa Franca in Burlington is brick oven and so good!!! Thin and crisp and cooked to perfection always! You have to try it!...and swing by our house after!

    1. I went to Villa Franca for lunch yesterday (it's actually only 2 miles from my office) - good stuff indeed. Nice call.


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