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Recommendations for thin crust pizza in east bay?


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  1. Lanesplitter, Albany. $10 for 19" cheese with pickup.

    1. Pizzaiolo, Oakland Temescal district.

      Bobby G's, Berkeley (University Ave.)

      1. gioia

        Gioia Pizzeria
        1586 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA 94707

        1. I second what kc72 said..
          great thin crust pizza and yes I lived in NYC..
          order ahead since they are busy..best for take out since seating is very limited..
          # 510-528-4692

          1. Pizza Antica and Chow in Lafayette (not necessarily traditional though)

            1. My top five:

              1. Dopo (whole pie only, small); the pizza-maker is an artist, sit at the left end of the bar and behold his mastery

              2. Pizzaiolo (wood oven, whole pie only, small-medium)

              3 (tie). Lanesplitter (slice or whole pie); Nizza la Bella (wood oven, whole pie only, small-medium)

              5. Pie in the Sky (slice)

              Pizzaiolo, Dopo, and Nizza are restaurants with full menus, wine, beer. Pizzaiolo and Nizza even have hard liquor.

              The Lanesplitters in Berkeley and Oakland are super-casual beer bar / pizzerias. The one in Albany is takeout / delivery only.

              Pie in the Sky is a hole-in-the-wall slice place, I presume you can order whole pies but I've never seen anyone do so. They also have some incongruously fancy pastries.

              Gioia's worth a try but personally I don't care for it. They have superior toppings but the crust is tasteless, like they use mediocre flour and/or don't add enough salt to the dough.

              If you're craving a bad, greasy, Ray's-style NY junk-food slice, Arinell.

              5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

              Lanesplitter Berkeley
              2033 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

              Pie In The Sky
              2124 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

              Nizza La Bella
              827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

              Lanesplitter Temescal
              4799 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              Arinell Pizza
              2109 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

              1. Okay, I confess to being a California girl who grew up with Roundtable and thus is not qualified to judge pizza. Also, I'm a crust agnostic: for me, it's all about the sauce and the cheese. I like gourmet pizzas, but most of them don't satisfy my craving for Pizza (with a capital P), because it they aren't cheesy enough. Forget the nettles and other frou-frou toppings: when I want Pizza, I want tomato sauce and cheese, on some kind of decent crust (I'm not picky, as long as it isn't cardboardy or overly bready).

                But back to the topic: I've tried Lanesplitter twice, and I don't care how close the crust comes to some ideal of NY pizza, the sauce is terrible. Bland, bland, bland. Even the garlic powder and red pepper flakes on the table can't save it. I'm not saying it should be spicy hot, I'm saying I want to taste (1) tomato, (2) garlic, and (3) oregano, with a good balance of sweet/tart/herbal. Also, I want cheese -- gooey cheese. The slices suck because if you're going to melt cheese then cool it, you need a lot of cheese to hold the heat and maintain the texture -- if there's not a lot of cheese all the fat drains out when it melts and then when the cheese cools it recoagulates without it, and when you reheat it you get hard crusty cheese without any gooeyness.

                So who has the best pizza sauce in the East Bay? Who has the best cheese (not most gourmet cheese, best Pizza cheese)?

                28 Replies
                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I believe that janef1 asked for thin crust pizza recommendations. Perhaps you should start a new topic, best sauce,best cheese.

                  1. re: wolfe

                    She asked for thin-crust pizza recommendations, but she didn't specify that the crust was the only criterion for judging the pizza, just that that was the style she was looking for (she didn't even say NY-style pizza). People recommended Lanesplitter -- I'm disagreeing because although it qualifies as thin-crust pizza, it doesn't qualify as "recommended" because of the bland sauce.

                    And I'll rephrase my point: what thin-crust pizza do you recommend that has something going for it in addition to the thickness of the crust.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Traditional Italian and New York pizza "sauce" is nothing but pureed San Marzano or similar tomatoes, sometimes slightly reduced. All the other flavors are added when assembling the pie. Adding fresh garlic and oregano to the pizza gives much fresher flavors than stewing them in the sauce.

                      I don't know of any pizza places with distinctive sauces. Maybe Lococo's in Berkeley?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yeah, but I bet Lanesplitter isn't using good quality tomatoes, nor is it adding much if any fresh garlic or oregano.

                        The best pizza I've had in recent memory was at La Ciccia (better than pizza I had in Rome a few weeks later).

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        It wasn't just people that recommended it,it was I and I like it. As I said to someone on another thread "all taste is subjective". Perhaps jane's taste agrees with mine or not. See Robert's post below and yet there is frequently a line out the door at Zachary's with people who like canned tomatoes.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          "People" have recommended Lanesplitter many times over the years -- that's why I gave it a second try after the first disappointing experience. I'm just giving an alternate perspective: some people recommend it, but I wouldn't. As you rightly say, tastes differ.

                          1. re: wolfe

                            Actually, canned tomatoes make the best tomato sauce, as many Italians will tell you. Unless I'm making a Pizza Margherita, I will always use canned tomatoes for my sauce, although I don't usually leave them as chunky as Zachary's does.

                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Huh? Now folks are quarreling with other people's answers just to quarrel, then getting grumpy when they get busted for it. Can't we just answer her question without picking fights? Let's help Janef1 find some good thin-crust pizza in the East Bay.

                            Jane1f, I can tell you that if you go to Pizzaiolo you will have an outstanding thin crust, wood-fired pizza. Their pizzas change weekly, so you should call or check their website if you want to know what pizzas they are offering on any given day. But they are delicious -- you can't go wrong.

                            5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                            1. re: foodiesf

                              I went to Pizzaiolo for the first time about 1/2 a year ago for a friend's birthday. I went back the following week because I was so blown away. It's the best pizza I've had outside of Italy.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I really think Zachary's has the most tomato/oregano taste to the sauce, and the cheese is very chewy, but it is deep dish and I haven't had their thin. I'm weird about cheese, though, I need to to be chewier and well done as opposed to the barely melted mess you get at a lot of places on the Peninsula- it almost is so thin it's runny and not gooey with substance.

                          1. re: P. Punko

                            Zachary's thin is too thick and there is too much cornmeal. I hate to have to sweep the bottom of the pie.

                            1. re: wolfe

                              I actually prefer Zachary's thin crust to their deep dish.

                              1. re: a_and_w

                                So do I but I but eschew both of them.

                                1. re: wolfe

                                  Bravo! Me, too, but my wife -- native Californian -- loves them!

                            2. re: P. Punko

                              Zachary's tastes like eating American tomatoes out of the can.

                              I agree that given the title of this topic it might be better to start another topic to discuss cheesy pizza with assertively flavored sauce.

                              1. re: P. Punko

                                I had a thin crust from Zachary's (going back on topic) a while back and thought it was very good. But when I went back more recently, I was disappointed and crossed them off my list of potential sources of good pizza (I hate the deep dish -- it's soggy mess, imho).

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Deep dish is a mess, that is true, just for readers FYI, Zachary's is very authentic Chicago deep dish, while also serving a thinner crust pizza, so I would guess that the Chicago-style deep dish/stuffed genre is not on Ruth's list as opposed to Zachary's specifically. Also, i think I did a decent job of addressing Ruth's question and staying on topic. :)

                                  1. re: P. Punko

                                    For good Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, go to Little Star in SF. The Albatross Pub reheats slices of their spinach pie (it's billed as "Little Chicago," which was Little Star's owner's previous place).

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      I wouldn't recommend trying Little Star out at Albatross -- they reheat it in the microwave (at least, they did the time I had it), which made the pizza pretty soggy.

                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                        True, but it's still better than Zachary's.

                                    2. re: P. Punko

                                      As a lifelong Chicagoan I must point out - Zachary's is not "deep dish". It's stuffed pizza - and the two are by no means the same. Californians just don't "get" Chicago pizza, as a rule - so it's easy to see why it all falls under the category of soggy mess to them. To us, they're as different as a Vienna beef hot dog and an Italian beef sandwich.

                                      As for Zach's, it's quite a good representation of the style - not light's out if it were in Chicago, but it wouldn't have anything to be embarrassed about either. For the West Coast it's damn good. If you want a proper deep dish pizza, Little Star is indeed your best bet. They have frou-frou California options (most of which are excellent) but you can get a completely traditional Chicago deep dish pizza there too.

                                    3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Not in the East Bay, Ruth, but I like Escape from NY pizza in the city, and there's one that delivers to the Financial District, so if you're late at work one night (or you want it for lunch, you could walk over), you could get that. I distinctly remember lots of cheese and sauce, but still thin.

                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Contrary to the other replies you got, I, too, am a CA girl who grew up with the same Round Table pizza you describe. As much as I dislike other aspects about Zachary's, my husband and I had a good pizza there Friday night. Must get the thin crust. Its not super thin, but its crisp enough to hold in your hand, with lots of gooey cheese. My husband is a sauce fanatic (my thing is the crust, but I like a variety of different kinds, depending on my mood), and he likes their sauce. Its chunky rather than smooth, but flavor-wise, its pretty good.

                                    1. re: chemchef

                                      I'm thinking that the last time I had a thin-crust (on topic!) pizza at Zachary's it was summer. Maybe since it was peak tomatoes season the fresh tomatoes they used were *too* sweet (lacking enough acid to balance) which is a common problems with ripe, inseason tomatoes. Since I like a fairly high-acid kick, that may have been why I didn't like it as well as a previous visit.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        They definitely had that acidic 'bite' on Friday when I was there.

                                        1. re: chemchef

                                          [Ruth scribbles note to self: Zachary's pizza better in winter/spring -- it was spring the first time I had it]

                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      California girl or not, you may have hit on why so many East Coast people are not satisfied with West Coast pizza ... or at least in my neck of the woods ... central CT ... to avoid a digression on what East Coast pizza is ... it is more about the sauce and cheese ... and sausage.

                                      And really I can't think of one place where the sauce stands out in the Bay Area. Not in the same way as when I bite into a piece of pizza in the town I grew up in and once again my West Coast pizza disatisfaction kicks in. Man, I can actually almost taste right now that last piece I had in my hometown ... everything you describe ... and I thought why can't someone do this in SF?

                                      Anyway, have you tried Nizza La Bella?

                                      Without looking up my notes because it is just too slow for me to do that on Chowhound these days, I can remember that sausage though the sauce/cheese didn't get imprinted on my memory

                                      1. re: mandala12

                                        Although I have not been to Melo's in awhile, I would not consider their style to be thin crusted NY. Did they add NY style to their menu?

                                      2. My (very Berkeley-centric) list, based only on the pizza:

                                        1. Pizzaiolo
                                        2. Pie in the Sky
                                        3. Lanesplitters
                                        4. Gioia
                                        5. Bobby G's

                                        If I factored in beer availability/selection, general ambiance, ease of getting in, and so on, the ranking would change somewhat.

                                        Dropping in a link for bobby g's:

                                        Bobby G's Pizzeria
                                        2074 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                        1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Pyzano's in Castro Valley
                                          3835 E. Castro Valley Blvd.

                                          excellent thin crust pizza

                                          1. I grew up on NY thin crust pizza and crave it often. I used to work in Berkeley and would often go to Arinells on Shattuck for lunch. It could be hit or miss, but it was often spot on. Haven’t been in a few years. Glad to see other people share my opinion of Zachary's. I’ve almost been clobbered by friends who gush about it “What?! How can you not like Zacharies?!” Regarding NY pizza, from what I’ve heard it’s getting harder and harder to find the real thing in NYC now. We were in NYC last month and went to a Chowhound recommended place. It was just ok, certainly not as good as I’ve had in the past.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Ridge

                                              Zachary's is Chicago style stuffed/deep dish pizza, if you don't like Zachary's you don't like that, which is cool. Pizza covers about 50 different kinds of food that are all called the same thing. I try to distinguish between what kind I am talking about and what it is I do or don't like about it.

                                              Also, not all thin crust is NY style, and the OP just asked for thin crust. This comment is way less persnickety than it sounds.

                                            2. Well, if it's crust you're looking for, then Arizmendi's an option. Chomping through
                                              a few of their slices really gives the gums a workout. They also score in the "distinctive
                                              sauce" department as, like the even more-distinctive Cheeseboard, they're willing to
                                              put absolutely anything on that crust as long as it's not meat or tomato.

                                              Otherwise, Robert's list in the fourth or fifth post in this thread is pretty accurate,
                                              and in the right order; though I'd swap the positions of the San Pablo and Temescal
                                              Lanesplitters -- the Temescal branch is consistently better, plus a more comfortable
                                              place to eat.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: uh ... art

                                                In the past year or so I've found the pizza pretty similar at both Lanesplitters. I think maybe quality control's gotten better at the Berkeley branch.

                                                Arizmendi's more or less a Cheese Board spinoff. Both places more often than not have no tomato sauce on their pizza of the day (in other words, most days they make pizza bianca). Neither makes particularly thin crust.


                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  I don't believe I've ever had a pizza slice from Arizimendi's that had sauce, but I go to the Oakland one on Lakeshore. And (at least at that location) the crust is firm but not particularly thin -- but when I think thin, I'm thinking of something almost like a cracker.

                                                  1. re: merle

                                                    I think all the Arizmendis make pizzas with tomato sauce a few days a month.

                                              2. wow..many pizza critics here and it seems everyone likes it a certain way..
                                                I've tried pizzas all over the world with the most authentic being Neapolitan made with caputo flour which is a thin crust except for the edges
                                                my favorite is still NYC style made with high quality bread flour such as King Arthur..
                                                but the best I've ever had is made right here at my house, just north of SF in a wood burning oven with dough cold fermented for 2 days..it's really not that hard after some practice and after making about 500 pizzas at home I have it finetuned as to how I like my sauce and what type of preference with cheese..I learn something new every time I make pizza..check out pizzamaking dot com and make your own masterpiece instead of finding a palce in the east bay..best of luck

                                                1. I just had a really outstanding lardo pizza with Parmesan and egg at Dopo tonight... like the most refined Egg McMuffin ever (and I love me some Egg McMuffin). The lardo had melted completely into the mess of egg and cheese, and you couldn't see it or feel it - it was just a whisper of pigginess. So good.

                                                  1. I'm late to chime in here but I have just 2 words for you: Dopo & Pizzaiolo.

                                                    1. Please don't laugh- Costco has a margherita pizza to go that is quite good. At my costco it is right next to the precooked chickens.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: busterdan

                                                        I've had pizza at Costco. It's okay for the price, if you're at Costco and hungry.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Arinells in Berkeley makes a damn fine plain cheese pie, and are also one of the few pizzerias that does Sicilian Pizza as well. They've been there for over 30 years...must be doing something right.

                                                          1. re: adamshoe

                                                            Arinell's satisfies expatriate New Yorkers' cravings for bad, greasy, Ray's-style junk-food slices.

                                                            Head-to-head comparison with Pie in the Sky:


                                                            Lanesplitter also does "Sicilian" (American term for thick crust cooked in a rectangular pan and cut in rectangular slices, similar to what Italians call "pizza rustica").

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              Thanks for the link. That thread made for some interesting and amusing reading (Bay Area Pizza Wussies Unite!).

                                                              I tried PiTS right after it opened, and the owner solicited feedback from me. At that time I told him that the pizza had more sauce on it than I liked and he seemed to take my comments seriously. I haven't eaten there enough to know if he ever made adjustments to the amount of sauce used and/or did a better job at training his cooks in the art of spreading the sauce (which to his mind was the source of the problem). If they're open on Monday, I'll drop in for a follow-up assessment.

                                                        2. re: busterdan

                                                          Just to be clear, is this a different pizza than the one they sell up front?

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            It's different. I haven't tried it yet, but it definitely caught my eye in the refrigerator case (bake-at-home pizza) yesterday at the Santa Cruz Costco because this margherita pizza looked so nice, with the nicest looking basil leaves and tomato slices that it reminded me of the pizzas I got in the Amalfi coast in Italy. I don't normally visit the one in Santa Cruz so I wondered if it was something special that they do there -- but sounds like it is just something new that they have at other branches too. I will have to buy it next time I see it, just to try it.

                                                            1. re: peacemeal

                                                              My costco does not sell this pizza at the concession stand up front. The stand has three varieties all with way too much sauce. I have only seen the margherita pizza in the meat area as described by peacemeal.