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BEST PIZZA IN EAST BAY

  • l

If anyone is near Oakland, please don't miss Zachery's Pizza on College Ave. There's another location in Berkeley. It is, by far, the BEST pizza anywhere! They have chicago-style deep dish which is so good -- all fresh ingredients. No canned or dried. Their thin crust is to die for with cornmeal in the crust. Yum!!

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  1. c
    Cyrus J. Farivar

    Zachary's is great. If you're into thin-crust, I'd suggest Arinell's in downtown Berkeley and Lanesplitter's on San Pablo Ave.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cyrus J. Farivar
      p
      Peter Demarest

      I second the Lanesplitter, as long as you keep the toppings to a minimum. They also have a great selection of beer on tap. It's always a welcome, unpretentious relief from the overworked pizzas at Cheese Board and Arrizmendi or the spectacularly plain pizzas at Zachary's.

      Jupiter on Shattuck isn't bad if you can get a table outside, otherwise it gets very noisy.

      1. re: Peter Demarest
        c
        Cyrus J. Farivar

        Their veggie pizza is pretty tasty, though.

        1. re: Peter Demarest

          Jupiter is one of our family favorites for a great lunch, yes they have good pizza. Or dinner, and we always enjoy the eclectic crowd there.

        2. re: Cyrus J. Farivar

          Zachary's sucks, though with the demise of Little Chicago it is by default the best Chicago-style pizza in the East Bay.

          For a decent deep-dish pie, head to Little Star in SF.

          http://www.littlestarpizza.com

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            This topic was dormant from 2007 until August 2013, so it's missing most of what's happened since then. Some newer threads:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/886662
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/732919
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896233

        3. The pizza at the Cheese Board on Shattuck in Berkeley is really good as is the pizza at Arizmendi on Lakeshore in Oakland. You might want to check those places out.

          11 Replies
          1. re: leslie
            c
            Cyrus J. Farivar

            How could I forget about Cheese Board!

            1. re: Cyrus J. Farivar

              I can't stand Zachary's or Arizmendi/Cheeseboard
              pizza. They are so greasy--each piece must have 1-2
              tablespoons of extra unneeded olive oil. There is no
              great East Bay pizza, but many nice restaurants do
              fancy expensive brick oven pizza that's good--Chez
              Panisse, Oliveto's, Mezze, and Cugini.

              The best pauper's pizza is Blondie's in Berkeley--
              not at all oily.

              1. re: David Roth

                A split decision...I agree about Zachary's--I don't know what all the shouting's about...but I enjoy Arizmendi's pie, mostly because of the crust, and the fact that I can get a light-baked pizza, then take it home to finish and enjoy....my default setting for pizza in the Oakland, though, is LoCoco's on Piedmont.

                1. re: David Roth

                  Pizza is such a personal taste that one person's "BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!!!!!" is another person's "eeew, disgusting!".

                  I don't particularly like Zachary's. My wife (from Chicago) also dislikes it, and feels that it isn't "Chicago" pizza at all (it's "deep" but not really "deep dish". (yes, I'm sure others differ in their opinions...)

                  Personally, I wouldn't mind Arizimendi pizza, if they chose better ingredients. It almost seems like they use a dartboard. "Let's see.. today is... red pepper... swiss... lettuce... and a walnut-pear glaze!". When they have good ingredients it's good, but all too often they add in one or two mismatches.

                  Me? I like home-baked. Takes a lot of time, but I have complete control. If I'm feeling lazy I'll order Leaning Tower, as the Lake Merritt branch does a decent job (and isn't disgustingly greasy or salty).

                  And yes, Blondie's (and Fat Slice) were good at non-greasy, esp if you got the veggie slices. "Pauper's pizza" I would not call them; they were godly food when I worked a block from there. Two bucks for lunch you could not beat. ;-) And I feel that the paupers can have all the grease they want; I want good, tasty ingredients...

                  1. re: David Roth

                    Okay, I know the post above is 2 years old, but I have to say: Damn, how I love and adore greasy pizza. For me it is nirvana.

                    1. re: Atomica

                      Yes, grease is an essential element of great pizza. But so is sauce.
                      As long as the cheeseboard is refusing to put actual tomato sauce
                      on their product, I'm going to continue to refuse to call it "pizza".

                      1. re: Jeet Jet

                        Pizza bianca's an even older tradition than pizza with tomato sauce.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Yes and there's a reason it's been superseded. Dying of old age
                          at 40 was a bit of a tradition there for a while too.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            THANK YOU, Robert! And... I might add... if you used good quality, full fat (and full flavor) cheese, then the grease is inevitable, and worth it! Also, I nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (even though it is fat) is a nice addition to a good pizza.

                            I'll take a Cheeseboard pizza anyday!

                            Regarding Zachary's... I used to like it (just for a change), but had some of the worst service of any restaurant I have EVER been to at the one on Solano Ave. ... Ever since, my husband and I refuse to give them anymore of our money.

                            1. re: chemchef

                              >worst service of any restaurant
                              >
                              that's my main beef with Zacharies ... "customer
                              unfriendly". no reservervation, cash only, no pitchers.
                              and they exploit kids for their art work :-)
                              [has any of this changed? yes, i realize they dont have
                              to be more accomodating when they place is as full as it
                              is, but i dont have to give them my money either and
                              am free to lobby against them whenever they are
                              proposed. for me the product doesnt make up for the
                              other factors.]

                              >if you used good quality, full fat (and full flavor)
                              >cheese, then the grease is inevitable
                              >
                              er you get plenty of grease from fat slice cheep cheese
                              slices too. under the "it's the moles that get you"
                              theory, at least the cheeseboard slices are small.

                              1. re: psb

                                For those who still want to go to Zachary's, they accept credit cards now (at least at the College location where I went to).

                2. Gioia Pizzeria in North Berkeley has great Cheese Board style pizza with more choices of toppings plus homemade lemonade.

                  Gioia Pizzeria
                  1586 Hopkins Street
                  Berkeley, CA 94707
                  (510) 528-4692

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: joshchef

                    Gioia's crust is fairly traditional though also tasteless from not enough salt. Cheese Board's is unique, sort of cracker-like, and as essvee notes they don't use tomato sauce, though in season sometimes they use fresh tomatoes.

                    Cheese Board is good in its eccentric way. I much prefer Pie in the Sky to Gioia.

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39118
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41782

                  2. Gioia is the best by far. It's pizza made by a Brooklynite and a former cook at Oliveto who knows his pizza. It's about the only Bay Area pizza this New Englander can stand. I must take respectful exception to the above statement that it is like Cheese Board pizza-- Gioia does not use a sourdough crust, and does use tomato sauce-- two things that make Cheese Board pizza tasty enough but not really pizza, in my opinion of course.

                    17 Replies
                    1. re: essvee

                      Gioia's is wonderful and traditional East Coast. The crust is superthin and with a nice char. The mushroom has mushroom bits (GASP) cooked on! Not tossed on at the end! It's the best mushroom pizza ever.

                      Cheeseboard pizza is NOT pizza. It's an open face toasted veggie sandwich maybe, but NOT pizza. The sauce is wrong (when there's sauce), the toppings "innovative" (i.e. Californian) and often more Mexican/Latino in taste. THAT'S NOT PIZZA.

                      Zachary's tastes homemade in a bad way: straight from the can. Ewwwww.

                      1. re: lintygmom

                        Gioia's good, but pricey.
                        What I don't understand is that why do so many palces in California charge so much for a lousy pie? I can get a great thin crust pie in New York City for 12-15 bucks, while out here a lot of places basically serving you a thick, huge cracker, with canned ragu and a mixed bag of cheese dominated by cheddar have the gut to charge me 16-19 bucks for a pie that on the East Coast most people would think was made in China?!!!

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            That's what we're partially about, right?

                          2. re: SamuelA.L.

                            It's crazy, most of the places if they are any good at all are at least $20 Bu why do you think there are so many pizzerias? They are huge money makers, flour and water..big fat profit margin.
                            And for that you'd think more would at least try to make decent pizza with respectable and fresh ingredients. But they don't.
                            Pisanos in Castro Valley is about the best I've found.

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              Well, I think with Gioia's fresh and high-quality ingredients their costs are a bit more than usual - at least way more than Arinell's. I don't know that it's enough to warrant $3 or whatever per slice, but I don't mind paying that for the quality I get there.

                              1. re: coolbean98

                                I like Gioia's toppings, I just wish it was easier to get a piping hot slice. The slices I've had there are always luke warm, and the cheese is coagulated.

                                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                  I've had whole pies that were piping hot, but the crust was still tasteless.

                            2. re: SamuelA.L.

                              Gioia's pizza was good perse, however the teenage, gangsta looking fellow that served us the barely warm pie sort of ruined the atmosphere for me. I have to say, I was disappointed b/c I've heard such high reviews of this place. Maybe I need to go back and try it again....

                            3. re: lintygmom

                              The only Cheeseboard pizza I've ever had is plain cheese: when I worked in Berkeley a coworker often brought it to office potlucks ....and he always just got cheese, but it didn't match your description at all. No 'innovative' toppings, no open faced sandwich, just a fairly thin crust, a bit of sauce, and cheese. I am not a big pizza fan, but I thought it was better than average.

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                Well, I live about two blocks away and often walk by and read the board posting the pizza of the day. Do that for a few years. You'll see.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  The four cheese pizza is, IMO, Cheeseboard's worst pie. My favorite is the tomato and lemon zest, though I also like the roasted eggplant, the roasted pepper, and the olive tapenade pies. They post the pizza of the day on their website:

                                  www.cheeseboard.coop

                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                    I've never seen a plain cheese pizza at Cheese Board. Maybe he was placing a special order?

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      all I can tell you is that he would bring it to the potluck, and say it was "Cheeseboard's plain cheese pizza". Maybe it was the four cheese pizza Morton mentions? I can't say how it compares to others since as I said, it was the only pizza from there I've ever tried. and not being a big pizza fan, I don't go seeking it out.

                                      do they do special orders? It could have been, since these were always pre-planned occaisons, and my impression was that he had been going there for years.

                                      I just mention it because I didn't think the description lintygmom gave matched my experience, for whatever that is worth. That I could see, there wasn't *any* relationship between that particular pizza and an open faced sandwich or anything Latino in flavor. Good, bad or indifferent, it definately WAS pizza. (though I am probably the wrong person to judge which is theirs, or anyone else's best).

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        If he always got plain cheese, I think it must have been a special order, since at least 19 times out of 20 the daily special has a mix of vegetables. If you haven't had one of those, I can see how the discussion wouldn't make much sense.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          You really should give cheeseboard a try some pleasant afternoon
                                          (pleasant because you're almost forced to eat outside sitting on the
                                          Shattuck median strip or something). In keeping with their socialist
                                          view of the world, you are not given any choice at all: they make one
                                          kind of pizza each day and that is what you will eat. No options, no
                                          substitutions, if you don't like one of the topping components you
                                          can pick it off yourself.

                                          They've managed to survive for 40 years by making that one kind of
                                          pizza taste very, very good.

                                          Here's their current pizza schedule:
                                          http://cheeseboardcollective.coop/Piz...

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            Actually since you mentioned "sauce", it probably wasn't a Cheeseboard pizza.

                                  2. East Bay pizzas you should try if you want to know for sure who makes the best pizza in the East Bay:

                                    Arinell's (bad)
                                    Bucci's
                                    Cafe at Chez Panisse
                                    Cheese Board Pizza
                                    Dopo
                                    Gioia
                                    Lanesplitter
                                    Lo Coco's (Berkeley) "La Puzzola"
                                    LoCoCo's (Oakland) fresh ricotta
                                    Nizza la Bella
                                    Oliveto
                                    Pie in the Sky
                                    Pizzaiolo - my #1
                                    Zachary's (stuffed sucks, thin is OK in an eccentric way)

                                    links & addresses: http://lauriston.com/pizza.html

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Pizza Antica deserves to be on that list

                                      1. re: 8gr8

                                        I don't think of Lafayette as part of the East Bay since it's not within the bay's watershed.

                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Tried to get "La Puzzola" at Lo Coco's (morels and gorgonzola -- so good), but the chef said he no longer makes the pizza (or pasta) specials. I tried a pizza with prosciutto and olives instead. It was good, though very salty. The crust is thicker than I usually like, but not bready, and with a nice flavor. Still, I'm sad about "La Puzzola." The chef did say that he might put it back on the menu if enough people ask for it -- so please do!