Mangia Pizza

Hanging tough with a featherweight crust
By MC SLIM JB  |  October 24, 2008


The restaurant business, with its long hours, razor-thin margins, and high failure rate, is brutal; the pizza business is positively Darwinian. You start by fighting the inborn regional prejudices and nostalgia of every customer. “This is okay, but it ain’t New Yawk [or New Haven, or wherever] pizza!” And the competition is absurdly fierce: consider Mangia Pizza, which competes for my local business in the South End with 50 other pizzerias within one measly mile. Most of these deliver; I could walk a pie home in 10 minutes from fully a dozen.

So it’s important to find a niche. Mangia channels a little bit of Naples with a thin crust and simple sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, but it doesn’t hew to the canon the way Gran Gusto does. Its stone oven is electric, not wood-fired, and its crusts are made from whole wheat, not highly refined flour. To the traditional fresh basil and mozzarella di bufala, Mangia’s Margherita pizza ($13.95/14-inch; $16.95/18-inch) adds chopped garlic, Asiago, and Parmigiano Reggiano. You could further add a shopping cart full of other fancy toppings ($1.50 each), from pineapple and baby shrimp to broccoli and blue cheese. That’s-a not so Campanian.

The no-sauce Tuscany ($14.95/$17.95) has even less to do with its namesake: it features mozzarella, chopped roasted tomatoes, a drizzle of pesto, basil leaves, chopped walnuts, Asiago, Gorgonzola, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Mercifully, that welter of ingredients is laid on delicately, making for a pretty fine pie, more like a fancy flatbread than an American gourmet pizza. I much prefer this to Yankee-style follies like Steve’s Potato Bacon ($14.95/$17.95): sliced potatoes, mozzarella, bacon, oregano, and Asiago. Mangia offers many ways to overload a lovely, light crust that isn’t sturdy enough for more than one or two add-ons. Jamming on double pepperoni, double sausage, and mushrooms here would be obtuse.

If you like your pizza folded, seamed, and made creamy with a little ricotta filling, order a calzone ($8.95). Mangia also offers some big, passable green salads ($6.95–$8.95) built mainly on romaine lettuce or baby spinach. With seating limited to a few patio tables, the advent of cooler weather means you’ll have to get delivery or take your order home. But if you keep the topping load down, you’ll see why Mangia has managed to thrive in its ridiculously crowded market. In this particular jungle, a really thin, really good whole-wheat crust is differentiator enough.

Mangia Pizza, located at 537 Columbus Avenue, in Boston, is open Monday through Friday, from 4 to 10 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 10 pm. Call 617.267.6600. It also has locations in Brookline, Canton, and Walpole.

Related: Brookline Lunch, Review: Walter's, Review: Thornton's Grille, More more >
  Topics: On The Cheap , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Cheese,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
    In food-nerd circles, the question of authenticity is a loaded one.
  •   OYSTER STEW AT STEEL & RYE  |  March 01, 2013
    Pity the poor would-be restaurateur in the city of Boston.
  •   PROVENÇAL FISH STEW AT SYCAMORE  |  February 13, 2013
    For food geeks accustomed to dining in urban Boston, it's easy to be a little dismissive of suburban restaurants.
  •   LAMB BELLY AT PURITAN & COMPANY  |  February 01, 2013
    By about the end of 2011, restaurant-industry PR people had already worn out the phrase "farm to table."
    As a South Ender, I find it easy to admire the smooth professionalism and crowd-pleasing instincts of the Aquitaine Group, which operates six of its eight restaurants in the neighborhood, including Metropolis, Union, Aquitaine, and Gaslight.

 See all articles by: MC SLIM JB