On a beautiful day in June, you'll want to pick up a box full of goodies from Galleria Umberto Rosticceria and have a delicious picnic on a bench overlooking the harbor.
Fans of this Boston treasure know that their official hours are short (Mon-Sat: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.) and get even shorter as ingredients begin to run out. When the dough is gone, they shut down.
And, when we had our picnic last week, we confirmed that, as always, they are taking the month of July off. That means you need to get there in the next couple of weeks or wait until August.
Our box of take-out always has at least one slice of pizza. Here the pizza slice is a Square of Sicilian-style with a thick crust, crispy bottom, and an abundance of sauce and cheese. It's filling but surprisingly lighter than it would seem.
The calzone in the box is spinach and cheese and next to it you see a panzerotti or more specifically a panzerotti di patate which is a mashed potato croquette. As Ed said, "What could be better than mashed potatoes stuffed with cheese that you can pick up and eat out of your hand?"
This can be a lines-out-the-door place, but take a breath! Great aromas fill the air and tell you it's worth the wait.
Calzones in the warming case never stay there long. Everything is in a constant flow as food moves from the cooks in the back room into boxes for takeout, or trays for dining-in that are handed to customers.
We have told our readers about this before, but there are some things that are worth repeating.
There is a really great piece of writing over on Serious Eats about Galleria Umberto's pizza. Carey Jones wrote, "Pizza flies out from the kitchen, enormous pans appearing every three or four minutes, smacked down on the counter, slices scooped up so quickly the cheese hardly has time to ooze over the side."
Simple, old world, fresh, ready, hearty, warm describes the food and the people. If you're a regular, you may get a hug or a conversation in Italian with your order. Regulars also have cash-in-hand because this is a "cash only" establishment.
Many locals also know that you can phone ahead with your order and go to the left of the main line, pull out your cash, and pick up your order. You'll see lots of locals picking up boxes of 10, 15, or 20 slices of pizza and a stash of other goodies.
You can dine in, if you choose, and have beer or wine in a paper cup with your food. But our crowd often has dogs in tow so we do this on really nice days and we eat in the park. Part of the clan finds a bench along the harbor or a table on the Greenway or at least they stand ready to pounce on a table the moment one is free.
We keep a photo of the menu on our phones to put together our order. With decisions made and cash gathered, we make the call and tell them, "Yes we do need napkins, forks, knives, and plates." They generously add those to your order. (And they do supply ample napkins – they know their food.)
Then, one or two of you can walk down Hanover Street, pick up your feast in the much shorter pick-up line to the left of the longer line, and return to the park for an outstanding picnic by the fountains.
289 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113 (map)
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photography: © 2014-2016 Penny Cherubino