This past weekend was a good one to be a pizza lover. With 30 vendors serving pizza, the Boston Pizza Festival was the place to be on July 7th and 8th. The second iteration of the festival was well prepared for the massive crowds entering City Hall Plaza. This year’s improvements included: no extra fee per slice after the $35 advance entrance ticket fee, shorter lines, vendors staying open throughout the day, and much more room available for festival goers.
The festival was a breeze to get into this year. There were several lanes to get into the festival, and when I arrived on Saturday around 1 p.m., there was hardly a line to get in. This is not to say that there was no one there, because once I walked into the festival, it was like walking through New York City.
With so many people packed into City Hall Plaza, the lines for each vendor were bound to be long. However, though the lines for most of the vendors were long, especially the vendors from Naples, they moved quickly. I never had to wait too long for my next slice of pizza. One of the most convenient parts of the festival was that I could grab a slice or two from vendors with shorter lines so when I waited in the longer lines, I wasn’t actually waiting for more pizza. Remember that tip for next year!
This year’s pizza slices were sample sized. The slices were just the right size so that you could try every one of the 30 vendors without filling up too early. Because they were small, each slice had to have the right amount of flavor, and for each of the ones I tried, they did.
Not only were pizza vendors offering slices of their pizza pies, but most had free giveaways as well. Oath pizza gave away a canvas tote bag that seemed to be envied by those walking around the festival. Sal’s Pizza partnered with Marvel to hand out posters of the newly released Ant Man and The Wasp movie. They also handed out coupons for free slices of pizza (outside of the festival of course). Boston Pizza Tours was raffling off free passes to a tour. That’s just some of the vendors to name a few. Giveaways, raffles, freebees were all over City Hall Plaza. No one left the festival empty handed.
Boston’s North End was well represented by Antico Forno, Benevento’s, Bricco, Quattro, Parziale’s Bakery and Rina’s Pizzeria.
This year, festival goers could vote on which pizza they liked the best out of the 30 vendors. Announced Sunday evening, the festival goers decided that Florina Pizzeria & Paninoteca was the best pizza vendor. Personally, I enjoyed Starita A Materdi the best. Part of it was the excitement of it being one of the vendors from Italy, but mostly it was because of its unique flavor. The sauce was really tasty!
As if the delicious samples of pizza weren’t enough, the festival featured non-stop entertainment. Music was provided during the day by D.J. JD and AMP radio. Every hour featured a performance, music, or cooking demonstration. However, the Jersey Pizza Boys are what stole the show on Saturday. Michael and Nicholas Testa, both under the age of 15, ran on and off stage to spin pizza dough with acrobatics. Words and pictures can not do their act justice.
This year’s Pizza Festival absolutely improved upon last year’s in every way. It was easy to get in, pizzas were made fresh, there was plenty of entertainment, and the pizza was absolutely delicious. Having never been to Italy, I think the best part of the day was being able to taste pizza from vendors originating from Italy. I’m already looking forward to seeing what next year’s festival will bring.
Event organizers Giancarlo Natale and Raffaele Scaizi were very pleased with the turnout. Natale said about day one, “Having everybody [at the festival] and being happy really is the best. It means a lot to me that everyone here is having so much fun. That’s the best part of the day for me.”
A portion of all proceeds from the festival tickets will go to Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). ABCD is a nonprofit human services organization that provides economically disadvantaged residents in Boston with the tools and resources they need to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success.