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The Paddock (CLOSED)

249 Pearl Street, Somerville, MA 02145
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--- Winner, Best Pizza in Boston Area, 2005 ---

Photo of The Paddock, in Somerville, MA Not too long ago, the city of Somerville was a gritty, close-knit community filled with local restaurants and pubs where residents often went after a long hard day at work. While Somerville has changed greatly over the past couple of decades, there are still neighborhoods that retain the feel of old Somerville, including areas with dining establishments that are frequented mainly by working-class locals. And one of the best of these is The Paddock, a family-style restaurant within sight of City Hall on the outskirts of Winter Hill.

The Paddock is not a restaurant that people find on their own; indeed, this dining spot is on a little-traveled street that is mostly residential, in an area that has been mostly untouched by gentrification. And The Paddock reflects this, as it is about as unpretentious and, well, REAL, as any other restaurant in the city. The inside of The Paddock, while a bit dark and well-worn, is comfortable in an old-fashioned way, with vinyl booths and long tables lining the main room. And while the menu is extensive, with everything from excellent steak tips to some of the best onion rings in the Boston area to a decent version of chicken parmigiana to solid shellfish dishes, the pizza is what brings people to The Paddock. The thin-crust pies here have a perfect balance of slightly bitter and nutty cheese, tangy sauce, and oil, and they are not unlike the Neapolitan pizzas at such stalwarts as Bianchi's in Revere or even perhaps Pizzeria Regina, although few places, including The Paddock, can match the pizza at that venerable North End establishment.

The Paddock probably won't win any awards for ambiance, and it is not a place to go if you are looking to do a power lunch or a romantic night out, but this throwback of a restaurant is one of the true hidden gems for pizza in the Greater Boston area. If you are a pizza lover and don't want to deal with the parking hassles at Pizzeria Regina or East Boston's Santarpio's, head over to The Paddock a few slices of pie and get a taste of the Somerville of old.