Dish: The Slice Is Right

A single-serve sampling of cheese pizza uncovers the good, the bad and the indigestible
A slice of cheese pizza on a paper plate
A slice of cheese pizza from Pranzi’s on Winthrop Street in Medford. Photo: Alonso Nichols
December 10, 2012


This is one in an occasional series about eating establishments in neighborhoods near Tufts’ three campuses. Have a suggestion for a place for our roving diners to explore? Email us at You can also follow Dish on Foursquare.

Long before tomato sauce on pizza was approved as a school lunch vegetable, a simple slice served well as the emergency food of choice. Close to providing a balanced meal, its convenience makes it a reliable standby for the harried with little time to eat, as well as for night owls on the prowl for a nosh.

Having walked in those shoes, I offer as a public service the results of my wanderings to local pizzerias. Perhaps not surprisingly, the dough slingers ranged from dismal disappointment to pleasant surprise. Only base-model cheese slices were tasted; a sampling of pepperoni or sausage pizza would, of course, necessitate a separate tour.

Andrea’s: The crust on this slice didn’t retain any crispness on the bottom—danger, unless you can brush off tomato sauce stains without a care. Outer edges were thin-ridged and bready, cheese was savory. Though there was slightly more of it than the pleasantly assertive sauce, there was not an abundance of either. Plain-Jane appearance would disqualify it as a centerfold candidate.

Angelina’s: Struck by this one’s pallid appearance, which we all know can be a result of harsh lighting. The wilting crust was noteworthy only for being slightly salty. Light on sauce, which provided what little flavor there was. Cheese contributed some texture, but that’s about it.

Helen’s: Whoa, taken aback by the taciturn demeanor that passes for a welcome here. Not surprisingly, the pizza was correspondingly parsimonious in size, ingredients and flavor, nondescript in every way, including appearance. I saw what might be specks of oregano, but couldn’t taste much of anything. Styrofoam crust. Reminiscent of food models used in a dietitian’s office to denote portion size.

Hillside Cafe: Generic-tasting cheese—processed American? Raw, underseasoned tomato sauce. Soggy, undercooked crust. Friendly service.

Nick’s: Quotidian character apparent even when eaten fresh out of the oven. Dripped oil all over the takeout bag, a plus or a minus depending on how messy you like to get. Sweetish sauce with a doughy-flavored crust of relatively substantial thickness. The “cardboard” notation in my scribblings can be explained by the reaction of steam against the paper plate. Bland cheese formed a blanket on top, a consideration for those who gravitate toward a heavier slice. Airy crust edges.

Pranzi’s: Well-judged ratio of crust-sauce-cheese. Sauce was mild but not distractingly sweet. Cheese definitely had some flavor to it, and avoided being gloppy or stringy. A slight hint of oregano. Dough was properly chewy and just floppy enough, crust nicely crisp. Size of slice: nearly a quarter of a large pizza.

Theo’s: Characteristically biscuity Greek crust—crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just a tad thicker than other thin-crust varieties. Tangy, thickish sauce and nice mix of cheeses. Flavor of oregano came through, although visual evidence of the herb was undetectable. Handsome appearance due to the type of cheese used and how it responded to the temperature at which it was cooked. Smallest of the single slices.

This represents the sum of my findings to date. What with all the tastings pig-piled on top of each other, I am left without a clue as to which slice left me bloated and queasy. But that’s all in the line of duty at a research university.

Andrea’s House of Pizza, 352 Boston Ave., Medford, 781.391.9093

Angelina’s Pizzeria, 230 Holland St., Somerville, 617.776.1240,

Helen’s Roast Beef and Pizzeria, 321 Boston Ave., Medford, 781.395.9097

Hillside Café, 283 Boston Ave., Medford, 781.874.9771,

Nick’s House of Pizza, 372 Boston Ave., Medford, 781.396.6630,

Pranzi’s Restaurant, 186 Winthrop St., Medford, 781.519.7690,

Theo’s Pizza, 1157 Broadway, Somerville, 617.206.3729


Fred Kalil can be reached at

Read earlier entries at the Dish series page.

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