Something almost as important as a mayoral proclamation will draw visitors to City Hall Plaza on July 8 and 9: the first ever Boston Pizza Festival.
The all-day event will feature over 20 pizza vendors from all over the greater Boston area, who will share their cheesy creations with locals. Make sure to grab a slice at the inaugural pizza fest, an event organizers hope will become an annual Beantown tradition.
If people don’t go they’re not trying the best pizza Boston has to offer,” says Josh Canfield, chef and owner of vendor Reach for the Pie in Peabody.
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Here are five things you have to know before heading to the Boston Pizza Festival.
1. This is an authentically Neapolitan affair
While there’s a couple of pizza festivals that happen in other American cities like Cleveland and Phoenix, the Boston event is unique for its strong connection with the Naples Pizza Festival, according to organizers Raffaele Scalzi, who has worked in event management and owns Casa Mia Cicina Italiana in Marblehead. The festival is partnering with the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), an Italian organization, which has legal authority to protect true Neapolitan pizza. Additionally, Marra Forni will supply 30 wood-fired pizza ovens, so all pies will be made on-site.
2. Expect more than just cheese
Each vendor will offer slices and pies of cheese and margherita, but also provide one (or more) specialties for pizza fanatics to try, Scalzi says. Reach for the Pie will serve their popular cheeseburger pizza, which includes ground beef, ketchup, mustard and pickles; a Thanksgiving pizza with ground turkey, squash, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy; and a 7-inch, chocolate chip cookie pie. Those interested in a fine dining pizza experience can head to Fiamma Bella for their duck and dark cherry pizza. Scalzi’s own restaurant will be serving up a spicy pizza with two types of Italian meats.
3. Learn to make pizza-and watch it fly
Throughout the day, five high-profile pizza chefs will be giving pizza-making seminars at the demo kitchen. You can watch up close or on TV screens as pizza-makers such as Pasquale Cozzolino, author of “The Pizza Diet” and two U.S.A Pizza Team members teach you how to make the signature pies at home. Additionally, Italy’s World Pizza Acrobat champion Danilo Pagano and talk show sensations Michael and Nicholas Testa will turn the festival into a spectacle with their pizza acrobatics. Those looking for other forms of entertainment can enjoy music from a live band and DJ or sip on a glass of beer or wine, available for purchase.
4. Tickets only get you through the door
Those looking for an opportunity to go all out on pizza may also want to consider their pocketbooks. The $15 ticket only gets you into the festival, however, each vendor plans to keep prices low. A slice will go for around $2 and a pie will typically sell for $6, according to Scalzi. Pizza lovers can also purchase $50 VIP tickets for free sample-sized pizza during the first hour of the festival, special seating at the pizza-making seminars and access to a private bar.
5. People need to give Boston a little bit more credit for their pizza
New York and Chicago are the American cities known for pizza, but Scalzi and Canfield both say that Boston deserves more recognition for the quality and variety of its pies. According to Scalzi, New York-style pizza is really just American style, and does not necessarily deserve a special place in the pizza hierarchy.
“Boston doesn’t get the credit it deserves for pizza,” Scalzi says. “We have a lot of pizzerias here that do that same style of pizza that is just as known as New York.”
If you go:
July 8-9, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., City Hall Plaza, Boston, $15, bostonpizzafestival.com