This past Sunday, five chowhounds piled in a car and spent four hours driving around Somerville and Medford, trying the same thing everywhere we went: slices of cheese pizza. Last spring, I made a similar tour around Davis Square, and was grateful to have some chow reinforcements this time around, for additional opinions, portion control, and moral support.
Two quick disclaimers: (1) A number of places were closed on Sunday, so we weren't able to check out every place on our initial list. (2) We realize that slices of cheese aren't necessarily the strong suit at these places; the point was an apples-to-apples comparison.
We all voted for our favorites and runners-up, and interestingly enough, only three slices got any votes at all:
1) Pini's, MacGoun Square, $1.75/slice
Super-thin, nicely charred, salty, and enormous (a "slice" is a quarter of a pizza!), Pini's was the clear favorite of the day, garnering four 1st place votes and one 3rd place vote. enhF94, our pizza dough expert, was particularly impressed with the dough technique of the pizza guy here. Personally, having ordered a few full Pini's pizzas in the past and finding them kind of meh, the slices here were a pleasant surprise; clearly the second time through the conveyor belt oven makes a world of difference.
2) Leone's, Winter Hill, $1.50
The only Sicilian slice to get any votes, this slice was made with good-quality cheese, tasty sauce, and an an amazingly light, bready crust, with a good amount of olive oil lining the pan. The cheese was dumped kind of haphazardly across the pie, meaning we had a "Goldilocks" of comments about the cheese: too much, not enough, just right. We were all well aware that because these slices came fresh out of the oven, the deck was stacked unfairly in Leone's favor, but hey, that's the way it goes. Four 2nd place votes, one 3rd place. The folks running this place were incredibly nice and friendly.
3) Angelina's, Teele Square, $1.25
While this slice didn't garner the accolades that Pini's did, it seemed to please as a good, basic New York-style slice. At $1.25 for a 6th of a pizza, again quite good value. Nicely crusty exterior, mildly sweet sauce, salty and greasy in a good way. One 1st place, one 2nd place, three 3rd place votes.
Honorable mention: La Cascia's, South Medford, $1.50
This Sicilian slice was hurt by being served cold, but there was definite potential here. Tasty, focaccia-like dough and a notably sweet (but not cloying) sauce. As an aside, their massive ovens in the back were a sight to behold.
--And the rest--
Honestly, everything else was pretty darn mediocre. To protect the innocent, we won't get too specific, but here's a few quotable quotes directed at the other establishments on the list: "Well, it looked nice." "That wasn't charred, it was *burnt*." "Some of the better tasting cardboard I've ever eaten." "That was just really, really bad."
Thanks to all who attended, as well as everyone who emailed with suggestions of slices to try. I hope we can try this again sometime in the future, after my stomach has a chance to recover.
--"Bibliography": the full list of places we tried, with prices per slice--
Thin crust - Angelina's (1.25), Joe Pizza (1.60), Pini's (1.75), Pinky's (2.00), Toni's by George (1.62)
Sicilian - Bocelli's (1.00), Italo Bakery (0.90), La Cascia's (1.50), Leone's (1.50)