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Cheap Eats

Takeout pizza, two ways: old-school and new kid on the block

Sillari’s co-owner Scott Sillari making pizzas in Malden.Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe

Ball games, beach picnics, pool parties: It’s the season for takeout pizza. But where to pick up the pie? We scouted two exceptional spots serving to-go orders only — one decidedly old-school, the other a new kid on the block, offering very different but equally delicious slices.

First we head to La Cascia’s, which got its start in East Boston in 1926. This Italian bakery in Medford (which has a different owner than the Burlington location) might not be the first place you’d think to pick up a pie — even the owner, Fred Moscaritolo, who bought the business from the La Cascia family in 1991, seems surprised when we tell him we’re calling about the pizza. He tells us they run a brisk catering business, and it’s evident they have a big lunch crowd that comes for the Italian subs.

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Sicilian pizza at La Cascia’s in Medford.Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe

But the thick, slightly sweet-sauced Sicilian slices are a deal: $1.75 apiece, $17 for a half-sheet (about the equivalent of 1½ large pizzas), or $33 to feed a crowd with a whole tray (24 pieces). The crust is substantial, with a pillowy center but crisp on the bottom; Sicilian pizza is the antithesis of the cracker-crust trend.

You can round out the meal with a selection of pastries, from cannoli and eclairs to frosted half-moons and fudgy brownies. We’re partial to the chocolate-covered almond rainbow cookies ($9.99 a pound).

A pastry case at La Cascia’s in Medford.Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe

La Cascia’s has seen a lot of changes over the past couple of decades. As Moscaritolo tells us, the clientele has changed along with the neighborhood, which “used to be more old-fashioned; now it’s getting more yuppie-ish.”

But the way everything is made — from the tempting from-scratch pastry to the baked-daily bread — hasn’t changed much at all. And the pizza sauce? Moscaritolo pauses for a moment: “I mean, we don’t peel the tomatoes. They come from a can, naturally.”

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Fred Moscaritolo, owner of La Cascia’s in Medford.Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe

On Medford Street in neighboring Malden, you’ll find Sillari’s Pizza, which just celebrated its grand opening with the mayor last week, although the place has been putting out pies since May.

Sillari’s looks like a cleaner, crisper version of the place your parents took you after softball games in middle school. It is compact and unassumingly tucked into a neighborhood street between two apartment buildings; at first we walked right past the place.

Then the smell got us. A friendly woman running the register double-checks that when you order “the works,” with every topping on the menu ($16), you really want the anchovies. You do.

Somehow the combination of the aggressively flavored little fish, sausage, pepperoni, onion, pepper, mushroom, olive, garlic, and artichoke don’t overwhelm the pizza, but meld together into a super-savory concoction even purists will love. Sillari’s even automatically cooks it well-done to be sure the crust doesn’t wilt under the weight of all those accouterments.

Sausage pizza at Sillari’s Pizza in Malden.Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe

Owner Scott Sillari is doing his best to keep things simple. The brick-oven pizza; some truly crisp, golden chicken tenders ($6); and fat, creamy russet fries ($4) are about all you will find on the menu.

Flavorful sausage pizza ($11) is topped with juicy, seasoned pork from Somerville butcher Michael Dulock, a co-owner. A simple cheese pizza ($10) proves the crisp-chewy crust; savory, oregano-flecked sauce; and mozzarella can stand on their own.

This summer you’ll find a rotating farmers’ market special. On one visit it’s a white pizza with rich roasted tomatoes and garlic scapes, the mild shoots that are available for only a short time each spring ($12).

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Chicken tenders at Sillari's Pizza in Malden.Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe

One dining companion is beside herself over the tenders. “So crisp, all white meat, none of that stringy [expletive]. . .” she raves, dragging the chicken through the barbecue and duck sauce that come in packets tucked in the brown paper bag.

Sillari says he and Dulock kept the menu bare-bones on purpose, to give them the freedom to feature specials and do pop-up concepts in the future.

Although Sillari’s is the new kid on the block, don’t expect new-age pizza — these pies are generously sized for the price. Sillari says his goal is to put out the best food he can, using top-quality ingredients, while still keeping the dishes affordable.

Neighborhood place? Quality ingredients? Simple, delicious food? Maybe the old and new places have more in common than you’d think.

SILLARI’S PIZZA

97 Medford St., Malden, 781-605-1445, www.sillarispizza.com

All major credit cards accepted. No wheelchair ramp, but they can assist customers through the door.

Prices Pizza $10-$16, chicken tenders $6, French fries $4

Hours Thu-Mon 4-10 p.m.

Liquor None

What to order The works pizza, sausage pizza, farmers’ market special pizza, chicken tenders

LA CASCIA’S

418 Main St., Medford, 781-396-5041, www.lacasciasbakery.com

All major credit cards accepted. No wheelchair ramp, but they can assist customers through the door.

Prices Pizza $1.75-$33, pastries $1.50-$3.75

Hours Mon-Sat 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

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Liquor None

What to order Sicilian pizza, chocolate-covered almond rainbow cookies


Catherine Smart can be reached at cathjsmart@gmail.com.