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Nov 7, 2012 10:59 AM

Best pizza in or around El Cerrito

So, like, if I needed to buy like ten, fifteen pies of pizza in El Cerrito, what is the best bet? Besides Little Star, which is probably a bit too dear for a staff meeting. I drive past a lot of pizza places on San Pablo; are any of them good?

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    1. This is probably going to be too much coin too, but Benchmark Pizza is new. Some references give the address as El Cerrito, others as Kensington.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Oh hi MWONG. I was on the Kensington Circus yesterday and was keen to try this place, but for reasons beyond my control, we 'had' to eat across the way at the Pub (mediocre). I stopped in to verify they didnt do slices. They indicated their pizzas were about 11" and "good for two" and are priced in the mid-teens. So I'd say this was on the fancier side for pizza ... I think the price would be modest if everyone was on board to trade quantity for quality, but otherwise you are heading north of $10/person just for the pizza.

        The pizza I saw on the tables looked quite handsome. High on my Berkeley "must try" list, but unfortunately only open for lunch on Sundays.

        I agree with the Lane Splitter rec. Their discount used to be quite considerable if you picked up. Not sure of status quo.

        1. re: psb

          We got pizza from Benchmark a few weeks ago during the Sunday Farmer's Market, when they do pies to go only (which you can eat at tables on the sidewalk). The counter person spaced out and forgot to give us our pizza for about 20 minutes... when we finally got it, it was tough and sad. But the pizza chef noticed what happened and made us a fresh pie, on the house. Right out of the oven, it was great: good sauce, thin crust, nice char. I'm not sure how well it would travel, though. And two hungry people can easily eat an entire pizza.
          I also agree that Lanesplitter is probably a safe bet, perfectly acceptable for staff meeting pizza.
          And, FWIW, Benchmark is technically in Kensington.

          1. re: psb

            The Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model successfully predicted the opening prices at BENCHMARK PIZZA were not sustainable, and indeed they appear to have fallen.

            Anyway, I took two of my associates there yesterday.
            Of the three pizzas I tried, one was EXCELLENT (House Sausage), one was QUITE GOOD (Calabrian Chili), and the last one recommended by the staff person was JUST GOOD (Pistachio) (we got two veg pizza to accomodate the vegetarian at the table). At the current prices, I think they are a pretty good value, esp given the soft drinks are quite reasonably priced.

            The soft serve ice cream was NON GOOD. I suppose i really just dont like soft serve. Or sea salt ice cream. Really, you guys cant have some other dessert in house? Having that be your only dessert for adults seems like some kind of ironic retro hipster stunt. In spite of how this sounds, I'm mystified, not upset. Perfectly happy to get another soda for dessert, next time.

            I think this should now definitely be a stop on the Albany-Berkeley-Oakland Pizza Tour. HOUSE SAUSAGE for sure. Also tasted quite good cold a day later. I tasted the char more in the left over slices and really relished the complicated bitter tasted addition.

            I suppose if i were really, really nitpicky, the distribution of the onions on the pistachio pizza was too clumpy. But they were good tasting onions. Also the place didnt feel that comfortable to loiter ... a bit cold and drafty, and sitting at a round table closely surrounded on all sides by other tables would have been a little uncomfortable had the lower seating area been fully occupied.

            Was happy with the 500ml drink ... 12oz can would have been too little.

            I think the HOUSE SAUSAGE PIZZA was better than ZERO ZERO.

            1. re: psb

              I liked Benchmark, though it's not a good fit for the original request of 15 pies for a meeting.


              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                We went a couple of weeks ago...some sort of coupon deal. It was decent, not great. Would return, but will still consider Una Pizza THE pizza to treasure in the SFBA. My opinion. Benchmark seems to be a funny blend of Italian and American ideas. It looks more or less Italian, but tastes more American. I'd rate it a light year or two above Borgo Italia's totally unacceptable pizza.

                1. re: sambamaster

                  I think Italian-American fusion is common around here because many people don't like the lack of crispness in ultra-traditional Neapolitan crust.

                  I found Borgo Italia's pizza, which I won't order again,quite similar to the pies at Una Pizza Napoletana, where I don't plan to return.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Robert: Anthony's pizza is honestly NOTHING like the sweet sauced, insipid crusted pizza at Borgo. You might give it another try...I was a fan while he was still in NY, and my first visit in SF a few weeks back affirmed that he is still cranking out masterful pizza. Really. And I'm as hard to please as you are, it seems! Altra prova, amico!

                    1. re: sambamaster

                      I prefer Borgo Italia's sauce, but I'd rather eat it on capellini. What people put on pizza is beside the point for me if it's not at all crisp.

        2. I had a decent pie from Albany Pizza Company on San Pablo. You might try a slice there to test it out.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ernie in berkeley

            I'm going to withdraw my APC rec. The last time I had it was a few years ago, and today I was in the area and stopped in for lunch. Pizza Hut quality at best, I'm afraid.

          2. Lanesplitter's takeout spot, 1051 San Pablo in Albany. I think there's a discount if you pick up instead of having them delivered.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              $5 off a large pie for pick up. Large cheese is $13.

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