Pizza of all shapes and sizes can be found in the Boston area and Eastern Massachusetts, including thin-crust Neapolitan pies, bar pizza (mostly south of Boston), the ever-present Greek pizza, and Sicilian slices and Italian bakery pizza. These last two--which are very similar in style--tend to be found mainly in Italian neighborhoods such as those in South Medford, Revere, East Boston, and the North End, with one spot in this last neighborhood offering an excellent version of it. And no, we're not talking about Galleria Umberto on Hanover Street this time around, instead looking at a much lesser-known place nearby called Parziale's Bakery.
Located on a mostly residential section of Prince Street just north of Salem Street, Parziale's is a real neighborhood spot that doesn't see the foot traffic of places on Salem Street or (especially) Hanover Street. The shop is actually within shouting distance of the very popular Bova's Bakery at the corner of Prince and Salem, but it doesn't get anything close to the crowds that that spot gets, which is good in a way because Parziale's is downright tiny, with the front area including counters displaying its products, the back area including ovens, food prep sections, and storage areas, and, well, that's about it. The shop got its start in the early 20th century, and it certainly still has the feel of an old-world bakery both outside and in.
Parziale's offers the type of items that you might expect from an Italian bakery, including all kinds of breads (including an excellent scali along with Tuscan, ciabatta, braided rolls, and so much more), cookies, biscotti, and pastries. And then there is the bakery pizza, which is a classic tomato and cheese pie with a thick and spongy crust, a rich and slightly sweet sauce, just a hint of oil, and golden-brown cheese on top. The pizzas are cooked in large trays, cut into squares, and offered to customers to take home and reheat or to eat as is at room temperature (and both options are perfectly acceptable, as this type of pizza is terrific served cold). Overall, the slices served at Parziale's are awfully close in quality to that of the aforementioned Galleria Umberto, though it is pretty difficult to reach the greatness of that spot (and you can dine in there, enjoying a hot slice with a cup of wine). So does Umberto's get the nod over Parziale's? Let's just say it's "too tough to call," so best to try both and decide for yourself.
Bakery pizza and Sicilian slices tend to be underrated and overlooked and they are not always easy to find, but when you do find a good spot for them, there are few pizzas that are more satisfying. And in the case of the squares at Parziale's Bakery, there's a lot of history behind them, so eating these slices is taking a big step back in time in some ways. The shop might not exactly be a household name compared to some of the other more popular bakeries and pastry shops in the neighborhood--but it is definitely one worth seeking out, especially if you yearn for the "old" North End that seems to be slowly disappearing with time.
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