Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Galleria Umberto

If you're new to the blog, the Summer Lunch Series debuted last year when I decided my Fridays off would be dedicated to lunching in the city. I have every Friday from June through August (minus the 4th of July week) off thanks to "flex time" a program offered by my employer where I opt to work four-ten hour days instead of five-eight hour days. It's a change of pace that I look forward to every summer. SLS 2.0 commenced this past Friday at a North End pizzeria that neither Adam or I had ever been to despite living in the neighborhood for three years. That has largely to do with their lunchtime only hours: 11am - 2:30pm (or until they run out of food) and the fact that for a long while we never even knew this place existed, regardless of its location directly on Hanover Street. We entered through an industrial garage door stepping into an airy space with high ceilings and up to a long line of patrons. I was immediately charmed by the old school, seemingly authentic, no frills atmosphere. Plain Jane wooden tables and chairs offer casual cafeteria style dining. Frames evenly spaced along the wall on one side boast faded photographs of Italian cities. The opposite side reveals an alcove where dueling painted wall murals highlight a large scale map of Italy and what appears to be a scene inside a Colosseum. Random decor flanks the wall including a cornucopia of flowers and a vertical row of plates with Italian landscapes. The line moved much faster that I initially would have expected, ten minutes, tops! Counter service is prompt and friendly, dictated by a small menu of Italian specialties, the highlight of which is their Sicilian style pizza by the slice. One can also choose from calzones, arancini, panini and drinks including soda, beer and wine. Note the ridiculously cheap prices - I didn't even know such lows were possible in this day and age. I think they've been the same since they opened in 1975 (kidding) but at they very least, I bet the same menu boards have been hanging behind the counter. Galleria Umberto accepts cash only, so come prepared. Their Sicilian Pizza ($1.45) is a basic preparation, in other words don't expect an array of toppings from which to choose, what you see is what you get! A thick hearty crust is both chewy and crispy, the tomato sauce is sweet, flavorful and doesn't overwhelm. The cheese is thick and bubbly, fairly greasy and deeply browned, blanketing the square slice that comes straight from the oven to your plate. It was absolutely phenomenal, some of the best pizza around for sure. Adam and I both raved endlessly while admitting how ashamed we were for being locals and waiting all this time to come here. Galleria Umberto's Arancini ($2.75) is a traditional Italian favorite. Being no stranger to these deep fried rice balls (a North End festival staple) we ordered one to split. The delightfully crispy exterior reveals a layer of fluffy yet compact white risotto encasing a stuffing of ground beef and peas ever so subtly coated in red sauce. The meat and peas mingle while a heaping portion of thick gooey mozzarella cheese cascades over the top. Arguably some of the best Arancini around, this and the pizza are even better when washed down by a cold, refreshing Miller Lite ($2.75).You couldn't find a cheaper option for the harmonious pairing that is a slice of pizza and a beer around here if you tried. Lunch cost us $12 in total, that's it!The line out the door may seem daunting, but I felt the short wait was easily worth our time. It's a quick, cheap and satisfying lunch option whether you're a local working / living nearby or a tourist walking on the Freedom Trail.Kicking off a summer of lunchtime adventures, a Sicilian pizza haven with mid-day only hours proved Galleria Umberto was the perfect choice to celebrate the meal du jour.
Galleria Umberto on Urbanspoon

15 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I noticed a similar but much smaller place called a parziale when I was wandering, waiting to meet up with people (maybe you know it?) It also had the same greasy and browned Sicilian squares for super cheap. Excited for the rest of SLS!

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Can't beat those prices - wow. I think I first found your blog when you were doing your SLS last year!

Megan said...

That is an inexpensive lunch! The pizza and arancini both sound delicious! Love the SLS!

Jaime @ la vie...J'aime said...

Love arancini! Stella in the South End has the best appetizer one.

t said...

That pizza looks good!

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Amber Blue Bird said...

gotta love a joint that serves their food on paper plates :)

Ameena said...

I'm sort of reeling from those prices...I've never seen anything like it except at In-n-Out! Everything looks delicious!

Flex hours...I love those. Too bad that employers in LA aren't nearly as progressive...or at least mine anyway.

meesh said...

so jealous of your SLS, that rocks. also ive been wanting to know if this place was good or not, so great choice, IMO.

Simply Life said...

I love that you're doing this again over the summer- can't wait to read all the reviews! this place looks perfect for a quick weekend lunch!

Bridget said...

Fun!! If you ever need lunch buddies just let me know!
That pizza looks delicious!! I've never heard of that place, but really you cant beat prices like that.

Gretchen said...

Yay for the return of summer lunches! We'll have to plan one with Fausto :)

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

Summer is here when the summer lunch series returns! I'm so JEALOUS you went here...I will eat there someday!

Corinne said...

SO happy SLS is back. Today is Friday, I wonder where you are dining today! Holy moly those ARE cheap prices. Like you I had no clue prices like that still existed. You can't even get a water for that price. Hidden gem!

Kerstin said...

What a fun summer series, can't wait to see where else you go! And what great prices, we'll have to check this place out.

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