There is no shortage of rivalries around Boston: Red Sox-Yankees, BC-BU, and if you ever have been to Salisbury, MA, Cristy’s-Tripoli. At Salisbury Beach these two pizza joints are separated only by Ozzie’s Fried Dough and a small entrance to Joe’s Playland, but they might as well be miles apart. There are Cristy’s people and there are Tripoli people. They feel strongly about which is better and they wouldn’t dare cross to the other side of Ozzie’s to place an order. With these strong feelings I thought it worth it to try them both and see what type of person I am.
There is a lot in common between Cristy’s and Tripoli. They both are walk up stands serving “beach pizza,” a huge sheet pizza cooked in advance with sauce and cheese, cut into squares, and then topped and reheated when you order. You place your order and wait for them to heat it up and then carry it away, usually to nearby picnic tables to enjoy. The basic option is extra cheese. Both spots will put a slice of American or provolone on your square. Here there is no rivalry, the only correct answer it seems is provolone. Also, they both serve Mello Yello which tastes great with beach pizza.
For my taste test I went a step further and got peperoni as well. I started out by ordering a slice from each. Both added five slices laid out in the same pattern you find on dice. Being new to the system, I got one with extra cheese and one without. I didn’t mean to. I just didn’t say the right phrase when ordering, “extra peperoni, extra cheese.” This was clear at Tripoli where it is right on their menu so I got it right there and wrong at Cristy’s.
For everything that is the same, there is one big difference, the sauce. Tripoli sauce is sweet, closer to ketchup than tomato sauce. Cristy’s on the other hand is spicy, not hot, but a little peppery with Italian herb flavors coming through, particularly oregano. Tripoli crust also seems a little thicker, but I imagine this could change from piece to piece. The crust does change from slice to slice and depending on how long ago the original pizza came out of the oven.
After my first two slices I thought I was a Cristy’s guy. I liked their thinner crust and savory sauce. I knew it wasn’t quite as good because it didn’t have the extra cheese, but I assumed once it did I would only like it more. So I made sure to go back a little later and get that extra cheese I missed the first time. Unfortunately, after I did, I started to think maybe I like Tripoli better. The sweet sauce went well with the extra cheese and as I ate that second slice from Cristy’s I found myself wanting the Tripoli pizza again.
So in the end I think I’m a Tripoli guy, but then again maybe not. I think there are times that call for a sweet sauce and others that call for a more savory one. I know that I will make some people cringe, but I’ll go back and forth between the two. After all it’s beach pizza it shouldn’t be taken that seriously. It’s not like trying to decide between Brown’s and Markey’s.
Salisbury, MA 01952
Salisbury, MA 01952