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Little Star Pizza open on Solano

Robert Lauriston Sep 8, 2010 10:29 AM

Little Star Pizza is open on Solano. I think the sign said noon to 10pm Tuesday through Sunday.

One of the owners used to run Little Chicago, a delivery-only place that was in Berkeley before he opened Little Star in SF. Albatross used to sell slices of his pizza.

Little Star makes deep-dish pizza a la Uno's, a cornmeal crust topped first with cheese, then with whatever toppings, with sauce on top. Zachary's makes stuffed pizza a la la Nancy's or Giordano's, which adds another layer of dough on top of the filling, with more tomato sauce on top of that.

Little Star Pizza
1175 Solano Ave, Albany, CA

  1. lizzbronson Jun 1, 2011 03:16 AM

    Had the Little star deep dish twice, thought it was excellent. The corn meal crust is just right, browned at the edges, the cheese melted nice with the tomatoes and spinach. The sauce is in the middle: not too little, not too much, and everything comes together--a nice mix of sweet and savory--the crust has a little hint of sweetness. This is good after the green goddess salad. Chocolate gelato good too! Rich and smooth. Butter pecan good as well. Nice family place, fills up quick. Timing is of the essence if you want to get a good seat, go around 4 or 5, that is a great time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lizzbronson
      Robert Lauriston Jun 1, 2011 08:31 AM

      The tomato sauce is on the top in the ones I've had.

      They'll do half-and-half, at least on the large size. Had the spinach, mushroom, and ricotta Little Star for the first time since the old Little Chicago / Albatross days, very nice but my favorite is still the Classic.

    2. nicedragonboy Apr 6, 2011 02:15 PM

      I think their hot wings are quite good there too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nicedragonboy
        lmnopm Apr 6, 2011 07:16 PM

        The wings are delish.

      2. Robert Lauriston Apr 5, 2011 01:33 PM

        There was a note clipped to the menu last night about serving slices at lunch. I'm not sure what the hours / days were. They're now open seven days, noon to 10pm.

        Little Star Pizza
        1175 Solano Ave, Albany, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          ernie in berkeley Apr 6, 2011 01:41 PM

          Slices are available from opening to 4:00. Thin slices today were cheese ($2.75) and pepperoni ($3.00), and one deep-dish, forgot which one ($3.25).

        2. Robert Lauriston Dec 31, 2010 08:04 AM

          Place was hopping last night, maybe thanks to the Groupon deal.

          Someday I'll branch out and try something other than the Classic, but it was great as usual. I think they've lightened the dish a bit from the Ike Sewell original: the crust isn't as oily, there's less cheese and sausage, more vegetables, and I think it's not quite as thick. Anyway, I'd been craving this for two or three weeks and it was entirely satisfactory. Nice that they have Racer 5 on draft.

          I had a bite of the cheesecake. It was fine though a bit sticky and sweet for my taste, I prefer the denser, drier style with a more pronounced sour cream flavor.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            Robert Lauriston Dec 31, 2010 12:00 PM

            Another thought after having a leftover slice for lunch: their tomato sauce is really nicely seasoned.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 02:26 PM

              I think the cheesecake has improved. I'd tell them to hold the chocolate sauce.

            2. Robert Lauriston Dec 29, 2010 09:56 AM

              $30 for $15 on groupon.com today.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                EileenPearl Dec 29, 2010 10:14 AM

                YES! My daughter and I both purchased this coupon. Yum. . . little gem salad, wings, pizza to look forward to . . happy new year!

              2. Robert Lauriston Dec 4, 2010 10:20 AM

                Just noticed on their Web site that they'll be open the first Monday of each month.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Pius Avocado III Dec 4, 2010 12:33 PM

                  Yes, a portion of the Monday evening sales goes to support Albany schools- word is that it is quite popular.

                2. hhc Oct 9, 2010 10:42 PM

                  I called in my order because I hate waiting for food. The deep dish pizza takes 25 minutes to cook so if you're gonna eat there call it in! Then tell the waiter/waitress that your order is in so you don't have to wait forever. Once seated I ordered a Mixed Salad Small $6.50 enough for 2 people. They make that once you get there & it's pretty fast.

                  We got our pizza in a few minutes. That was Awesome. I got: 1/2 Classic - sausage, mushrooms, onions, green bells + 1/2 Little Star - spinach blended w/ ricotta & feta, mushrooms, onions, garlic. Small 9" is enough for 2. It's 6 total slices - we each got 1.5 slice Classic, 1.5 slice Little Star. Salad + 3 slices makes you really full. We both thought the Little Star was tastier.

                  $18 + $6.50 = $24.50 + $2.39 tax = $26.89 before tip. Credit cards taken, we paid Cash.

                  I'll try the Thin Crust White Pie $17.50 Small 12" next time.

                  NO Slices available - someone asked about that. I know they sold slices for Solano Stroll.

                  FREE water in Carafe given quickly.

                  Separate bathrooms available.

                  Edit: First Mondays open 12-10pm the 1st Mon of Ea Month 10% of that Evenings sales will be donated to the Albany Education Foundation.

                  Solano Stroll
                  1563 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94707

                  1. achefsbest Oct 5, 2010 05:39 PM

                    Yeah, I went there two Tuesdays ago. I enjoyed my spinach pizza. I liked that it wasn't too cheesy and I liked the cornmeal crust.

                    I'd gladly go back for more.

                    1. p
                      Pius Avocado III Oct 5, 2010 03:22 PM

                      Went for the first time today for lunch; one of only three parties plus a scattering of solo diners at 12:30, we were seated right away.

                      Ordered the large classic (deep-dish w/ sausage, mushrooms, bell pepper & onions) and attempted to each order a small salad when our very helpful, attentive server (the only person working out front) pointed out that their small salads are suitable for two. Easily suited for two and priced at $6.50, the mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes, chopped red bell peppers and onions, gorgonzola and walnuts w/ vinaigrette is a great value.

                      The pizzas they turn out look great and that is borne out thoroughly in the taste, particularly as regards the great cornmeal crust and excellent sauce- I think it was cracked coriander scattered about in the sauce that married with the fennel in the sausage really well. Amount of cheese was perfect.

                      There were two of us; we're not particularly hefty eaters and came away with just two slices to take home so I can't agree with the comments that the small deep dish is too hearty a lunch for two. It's only $5 more, I now have 2 slices of top-notch deep dish pizza @$2.50 per for lunch tomorrow-why bother with the small? I might point out that I have a bias completely unsupported by any sort of technical knowledge whatsoever that pizzas of this sort have to be of a certain (large) size to get the flavor balance right in the baking process...

                      My only Chicago benchmark is Lou Malnati's River North location (though I'll be fixing that shortly); on that basis as well as it's own considerable merits, Little Star makes the grade.

                      Four active tap handles (2 New Belgium offerings, Racer 5, Sierra Kellerweiss) with two vacant.

                      There is a side door near the bar so you don't have to go to the front of the house for take-out orders.

                      This is destination pizza; we'll be back.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Pius Avocado III
                        abstractpoet Oct 5, 2010 07:42 PM

                        Two slices left over sounds about right for the average eaters. I don't think anyone was complaining that the pies are too big, just that it's quite a hearty lunch--certainly if you're by yourself. In such cases, the by-the-slice option is a nice alternative, though I don't know how well that works (or would work) with the deep dish.

                      2. r
                        rightstar Sep 16, 2010 07:18 PM

                        It was okay. It was less greasy than Zachary's. Also, the chicken was less fatty and the vegetables were less soggy. However, I'm not crazy about their corn crust. I think you either love it or you don't. I'd go back, but it's not my favorite.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rightstar
                          Robert Lauriston Sep 17, 2010 10:49 AM

                          The cornmeal crust dates back to the original Uno's recipe.

                        2. kellylee Sep 9, 2010 04:30 PM

                          I've been twice, once for lunch and one for dinner. I ordered the deep dish with spinach, mushrooms and pesto in an attempt to compare it to what I usually choose at Zachary's. Little Star's pizza was an entirely different bird. The pizza was very fresh and clean tasting with a lovely crunch from the cornmeal. I still love Zack's due to the almost buttery richness of the crust but will hit Little Star for a more "grown-up" meal. I tried the thin crust on my second visit - with olives (green and black) and mushrooms. It was delicious. Not too heavy for lunch time. Good salads and an interesting chocolate gelato/cabernet sorbet combo dessert. The wait staff is fun and keeps things moving. Sit in a booth if you can get one.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: kellylee
                            ernie in berkeley Sep 9, 2010 04:39 PM

                            They're open for lunch now?

                            1. re: ernie in berkeley
                              wolfe Sep 9, 2010 04:48 PM

                              From their web site but remember it takes 30 minutes for the deep dish.
                              Our Albany location opens at 12PM Tuesday through Sunday

                              1. re: wolfe
                                gordon wing Sep 10, 2010 10:48 AM

                                with respect to the 30 minutes - I suspect they will let you call in before hand to minimize one's wait time ?

                                1. re: gordon wing
                                  wolfe Sep 10, 2010 12:27 PM

                                  I suspect they do but when do they start cooking prior to opening?

                                2. re: wolfe
                                  ernie in berkeley Sep 10, 2010 01:13 PM

                                  Thanks for the tip. The pie I had for lunch just now was excellent, with a cracker-thin cornmeal crust. I was expecting a Zachary's-style slab. The sauce was light and fresh-tasting and there was good cheese with a sprinkling of fresh parmesian. Sausage was so-so, a little underseasoned. A deep-dish pizza at another table looked exactly how I remember Little Chicago's.

                                  Next week they will start offering slices, at least at lunchtime,
                                  which is good because a whole pie was kind of pricey at $16
                                  including the sausage and some good tomato slices, and it was a little too big for lunch for one.

                                  1. re: ernie in berkeley
                                    majordanby Sep 12, 2010 04:51 PM

                                    they were offering pepperoni and cheese thin crust slices today at the solano stroll festival for $3.

                                  2. re: wolfe
                                    abstractpoet Sep 10, 2010 03:23 PM

                                    We got there around 1:00 today and put our deep dish pizza order in right at the door, even though there wasn't a wait or anything. That worked out well--just a couple minutes after we'd finished our salad, the pizza came out.

                                    Regarding the comment about them offering individual slices, will they have slices for the deep dish as well? That would be nice. I'd say that the small deep dish might be a bit too hearty a lunch even for two people, especially if you get a salad too.

                                    1. re: abstractpoet
                                      wolfe Sep 10, 2010 03:28 PM

                                      "small deep dish might be a bit too hearty a lunch even for two people"
                                      Bet on it unless Sonya Thomas and Joey Chestnut are the 2, I had 3 meals as noted above.

                              2. a
                                abstractpoet Sep 8, 2010 03:23 PM

                                We went about a week and a half ago and they were already doing brisk business. We had the "classic" deep dish, with sausage, peppers, etc. I thought it was about a million times better than Zachary's. Literally one million times. Like, every single component was noticeably better: the cheese, the sauce, the toppings, and--most especially--the crust.

                                I can't imagine ever willingly choosing to go to Zachary's ever again.

                                1. Glencora Sep 8, 2010 10:57 AM

                                  Has anyone tried the thin crust pizza? I'd like to know how it compares to Lanesplitter's.

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: Glencora
                                    mariacarmen Sep 9, 2010 08:35 PM

                                    i had the thin crust about 3 weeks ago - the white pizza, tho ours didn't have zucchini, like the online menu says, just tomatoes. we took it home, about a 6 minute drive. it was ok. My first time trying Little Star, even tho I live near the one in the mission (tried the Albany one). It was good, flavorful enough..... maybe i just don't like pizzas with cornmeal dusted on the dough. maybe i should have eaten it there. And then about a week ago we had Lanesplitter's and that was the first time I'd had that pizza in about 10 years! I wasn't that impressed by Lanesplitter's either. I've been spoiled by Pizzaiolo and Gialina's. But i know it's not the same - those aren't your typical "take-out" pizzas. I live right next door to Serrano's Pizza, and I don't much like that either. You have to doctor it up a lot.

                                    2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                                    5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                    1. re: mariacarmen
                                      Glencora Sep 9, 2010 09:32 PM

                                      I think of Lanesplitter as good fast food, though the price has gone up recently. Haven't been to Pizzaiolo, but I have been to Boot and Shoe and that was in a different category. I'm just looking for not-too-pricey take out. I'll try Little Star once, but I suspect it's not for me.

                                      1. re: Glencora
                                        mariacarmen Sep 9, 2010 11:05 PM

                                        Totally get what you mean. I've been looking for that good, go-to pizza you order just for take out, not for sit-down dinner, not "artisanal" pizza (ala Boot & Shoe/Pizzaiolo/Delfina/Flour & Water etc.), but I haven't really found it yet. I have to say i used to really love Mr. Pizza Man, but haven't had any in about 3 years....

                                        Mr. Pizza Man
                                        500 12th St Ste 131, Oakland, CA 94607

                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                          abstractpoet Sep 9, 2010 11:20 PM

                                          I order from Lanesplitter (a large, "well-done" pie) in precisely the situations you're talking about, and I've generally been satisfied. I do the takeout option from the Lakeshore location, and with the $5 discount for picking it up, I find the price fairly reasonable.

                                          Rotten City Pizza (in Emeryville) is tops in this category, but I think it's pricier than Lanesplitter and is really best eaten in the store (though the pies do pretty well when you reheat them in the oven too).

                                          Lakeshore Cafe
                                          3257 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                                          Rotten City Pizza
                                          6613 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA 94608

                                          1. re: abstractpoet
                                            mariacarmen Sep 9, 2010 11:39 PM

                                            i thought the price was fine - the pizzas were HUGE - and they tasted fine, but not great. i liked them better than anyone else in my family. we had a pepperoni pizza and a mushroom/cheese. i haven't tried Rotten City. anyone tried LaVal's, in El Cerrito, on San Pablo?

                                            1. re: mariacarmen
                                              foodeye Sep 10, 2010 09:24 AM

                                              Emilia's and Gioia are both great for to-go orders, though maybe they are more the 'artisanal' type. I think LaVal's = Round Table.


                                              1. re: foodeye
                                                mariacarmen Oct 11, 2010 09:54 PM

                                                Tried Gioia tonight. TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS FOR "SPECIAL" PIZZA. and "special" means anything other than plain cheese! Plain cheese pizza is TWENTY-ONE DOLLARS! that's more than Tony's Pizza Napoletana (the one whose pizzaiolo won the World Pizza competition nine times, and which I LOVED) and (the admittedly overhyped) Una Pizza Napoletana!! We had the pomodoro and the pepperoni. I liked them both, quite a lot, tho the crust was neither crisp enough, nor droopy enough, for me. the tomatoes on the pomodoro were unbelievably sweet, delicious, and the sauce on the pepperoni was good and flavorful. Way better than Little Star. But this is not going to be the go-to take-out pizza place.

                                                Tony's Pizza Napoletana
                                                1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                Una Pizza Napoletana
                                                200 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                1. re: mariacarmen
                                                  Robert Lauriston Oct 12, 2010 10:11 AM

                                                  One of Gioia's 18-19" New York-style thin-crust pizzas is considerably more food than a Neapolitan pie from Tony's or UPN.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                    mariacarmen Oct 12, 2010 10:06 PM

                                                    Yes, you're right - it fed 5 of us and there were leftovers today. i get your point.

                                                  2. re: mariacarmen
                                                    wolfe Oct 12, 2010 12:57 PM

                                                    $22 for Tony's margherita, delicious but about12" and I finished it between the Vallejo garage and the Bay Bridge in light traffic and I was not texting at the time.

                                                2. re: mariacarmen
                                                  sydthekyd Sep 10, 2010 06:20 PM

                                                  Got a pizza delivered from LaVal's in Albany for the first time in quite a while recently and thought it was quite good - fresh, very thin crust with no big edges. Large combination (linguica, zucchini, extra sauce, etc., etc.) for $20.

                                                  1. re: sydthekyd
                                                    mariacarmen Sep 12, 2010 04:05 PM

                                                    thx, i'll try it!

                                                  2. re: mariacarmen
                                                    lizzbronson Jun 1, 2011 03:12 AM

                                                    haven't been to laval's for a couple years but generally this is the only place i would get pizza in albany. best kept secret.

                                          2. re: Glencora
                                            wolfe Oct 8, 2010 03:22 PM

                                            Had the thin crust Italian combo. Very good. Thicker crust than my usual Lanesplitter but not as thick as Zachary's. Since you are probably aware of my penurious nature my usual Lanesplitter is the $13 19" cheese so this $25 16" was a stretch for me. Would I do it again? If it is the wish of "she who must be obeyed."

                                            1. re: wolfe
                                              Glencora Oct 9, 2010 06:57 AM

                                              Good to know. Doesn't sound like a must-have. (btw, tried Fat Daddy's ribs last Sunday. THAT was worth the extra $.)

                                              1. re: Glencora
                                                mariacarmen Oct 9, 2010 11:46 PM

                                                (I agree, and since Wolfe didn't comment on price when he posted about the ribs, he must concur.)

                                          3. wolfe Sep 8, 2010 10:47 AM

                                            First time Little Star. Small cheese and sausage. Crust very tasty. I enjoyed each of the three meals that I had it and it rewarmed beautifully. I certainly liked it better than the "deep dish/stuffed" up the block. Very different for me and not sure what to make of it as "pizza" more like a quiche with tomato sauce.

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