Generally, when you come across a pizza place that has been around for more than a half century, you can probably assume that it is pretty good. And this is certainly the case with a tiny spot in East Watertown called Stella's, which first opened its doors back in 1961. Unlike some of the other decades-old pizzerias in the Boston area, however (Santarpio's, Regina's, etc.), this Coolidge Square shop remains nearly completely unknown except to those who live in the neighborhood and pizza lovers who tend to do some serious exploring in and around Boston.
Located in a bustling section of Watertown that is known in part for its Armenian and Middle Eastern shops and restaurants, Stella's Pizza looks much like hundreds of other "house of pizza" places and sub shops in the Boston area. Outside you will find a classic Coca-Cola sign above the entrance, while inside you will see a handful of booths with hard seats, a potato chip rack and refrigerated soda cooler in the back, a generic tile floor, and some exposed brick in the front. Indeed, much like Armando's in the Huron Village section of Cambridge, Stella's could easily be mistaken for a place to get Greek pizza, which the vast majority of sub shops in and around Boston tend to offer. But as you'll learn in a minute, this couldn't be further from the truth.
The menu at Stella's runs the gamut from salads to sandwiches to wings to to pizza to calzones, which, again, makes it appear to be like your typical sub shop. But the pizza here is thin-crust Neapolitan that isn't too far off from what some would call New York-style pies, though the slices aren't quite as "foldable" as those found in NYC. The gas-fired oven gets awfully hot here, allowing for a nice char to the dry and crispy crust, which also has a good amount of air bubbles in the small 12-inch size and the large 16-inch size pizzas. (The extra-large, which is 18 inches, is too thin to have much in the way of bubbles or texture.) The sauce at Stella's is sweet--but not overly so--while the cheese is fairly mild and not too greasy, which keeps it from overpowering the rest of the ingredients. A few good choices here include a wonderful margherita with ricotta and basil, a classic pepperoni pizza, a "White Roman" with lots of garlic and a hint of oregano, and a pie with moderately hot banana peppers. Slices are also available at Stella's, and they are quite big, which makes a couple of slices being the perfect size for a quick lunch to go.
Even though it is not well known and doesn't have the name recognition of Santarpio's or Regina's, Stella's could probably be included in a list of top 20 pizza places in the Boston area. It may look like your basic takeout joint, but Stella's is far better than that, especially when it comes to their wonderful thin-crust pies that give the better-known places a run for their money.
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