Crispy or doughy? Thin or thick? Triangular or square-shaped?

It’s a question that may have no answer: What makes the best slice of pizza?

This weekend the Boston Pizza Festival featured nearly 30 pizza vendors in Boston’s City Hall Plaza. The slices ranged in style, from Neapolitan, Sicilian, Detroit-style to foldable New York slices.

GBH News spoke with pizza chefs and professionals working the festival to try and understand what makes a great slice.

“You have to have the passion. You have to love what you're doing,” said Lorenzo Guidi, director and COO of the pizza flour company Le 5 Stagioni USA.

Guidi, who moved to Los Angeles from Bagni di Lucca, Italy when he was 5 years old, and whose family has been in the food service business since 1831, was impressed by the Boston crowd.

“I love Boston because look at this, in the rain. These are pizza people. You know, I'm from LA. They would have been running with umbrellas already home, but people are eating. That's the key. Passion is everything.”

Once you’ve got the passion, the next step is the foundation: the dough.

“The best dough is very simple. Flour, water, salt, yeast. And it's all about time. It's how you let the dough rise, and proof and come to life,” said Evan Butland, chef at Cafe Quattro. "If you let your dough proof up right, you've got a little bit of crispiness when you bite into it, but then it's airiness."

Two men stand side by side smiling with teeth. One on the left has a thumbs up and wears a dark blue T-shirt and the man on the right crosses his arms across his chest and wears a tan matching shirt and pants. They stand on brick cobblestones and a green ceramic pizza oven is behind them.
Chef Juan G Perez and Chef Daniele Gagliotta pose in front of a Marra Forni pizza oven at the Boston Pizza Festival Saturday June 24, 2023.
Elena Eberwein GBH News

Once the dough itself is set, it's all about how it's handled, including the classic pizza toss.

“The best slice of pizza is [in] the stretching,” said Omar Arambula, culinary director at Buca di Beppo. “It's got to be done by somebody who really knows what they're doing, get it to the right thickness so that it cooks evenly.”

Whether or not crust should be crispy or soft often comes down to personal opinion.

Chefs at the festival agreed that quality ingredients are crucial to taking a pizza to the next level. From fresh mozzarella, to quality tomatoes and local products — that is what can set pizzas apart.

“If you bite into it, and all of a sudden, it tastes like a Wonder Bread sandwich with bologna. With ketchup and mustard — you've killed it,” said Guidi.

Juan G. Perez, executive chef at POSTO in Somerville, has amassed a huge social media following posting his pizza-making process. His menu includes pizzas that range from classic margherita to more unusual combinations, like almond ricotta with hot honey.

“Everybody can make pizza,” Perez said. “But once you put who you are into it, it's just the best combination.”