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Forge Pizza now open (Oakland)

Went to the farmers market at Jack London Square this past Sunday. Noticed people walking in and out of Forge, which has been advertising a late January launch. Well, apparently they are open today (soft launch this past weekend). They are open M-F at 11 am and Sat-Sun at 10:30. The website doesnt list a closing time! Below is info I got through an email.

Forge is now open for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and private events!

Jack London Square welcomes its newest addition, Forge featuring wood-fired cooking specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza and American classics in a prime waterfront location. Forge Chefs Jeff Amber (former executive chef at XYZ, Chow and Moose’s), Jeff Krupman (aka Pizza Hacker, known for his “pop-up” street pizzas) and Jeff Hayden (Boot & Shoe Service and Dopo) feature a simple yet flavorful menu using local, organic and seasonal ingredients. Menu items include Fried House-made Pickles, Mussels, Smoked Chicken Wings, Margherita, Three Cheese and Pancetta Pizza, Chicken Pot Pie and Pork Meatballs. Forge presents a robust beverage menu including 20-plus local artisanal beers, house-made tonic, ginger beer and root beer on tap.

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  1. Awesome! I noticed that they were open as well when we visited the market, but everyone had already eaten. Did some vegetable / sauerkraut / olallieberry jam shopping and then enjoyed a couple of Linden Street brews in the sun at Heinolds instead, but next time...

    I am, of course, most curious about the pickles.

    1. Went for lunch. Had the fresh pepperoni pie with an egg. Crust reminded me of Cotogna's, good flavor, nice scorch, good balance of crispness and chewiness. Excellent toppings, good combination. Overall excellent, definitely one of the top five in the East Bay.

      Roasted carrots and turnips with greens on with breadcrumb were nice. Ginger apple crisp was very good, light, barely sweet, topping a bit salty. The server recommended substituting housemade ice cream for whipped cream, good suggestion.

      Some people at the next table offered me a deep-fried cheese curd. Seriously rich and greasy, way too big a helping for two people.

      Great place to sit outside on a nice day.


      10 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Grub Street (in its "Top 50 Pizzas in the Bay Area" piece) says the crust recipe was adapted from Tartine's bread, and that it contains a touch of alderwood-smoked salt.


        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Totally agree about the pizza! We're fairly picky when it comes to pizza (can't even think of 5 good ones in the East Bay, so I'm wondering who you're referring to!), but were pleasantly surprised by Forge. Had the cheese curds, and while I agree that the helping looked massive upon arrival, we managed to devour every last one, and still have room for chicken wings, pizza and dessert! Somehow, they were rich, yet light at the same time. The chicken wings were pleasantly smoky but not too much, as others have said, but I had to ask for more celery! It strangely only came with a few bits chopped up, and the wings & blue cheese definitely begged for the celery component. Also had the sausage pizza and loved it. Hubby got the apple crisp dessert and loved the saltiness of it, but wasn't offered the ice cream sub, which he definitely felt it needed. I ordered the butterscotch pudding, which was grainy and awful, but our waiter (who was fabulous, btw) happily took it away and exchanged for the root beer float, which was ok, not great, but much better than the pudding. We will definitely be back.

          1. re: chemchef

            We got the butterscotch pudding as well. The taste was okay, but the texture was all off -- running and somewhat warm. We were very happy with the vegetables (love those turnips) and the cheese curds (very rich). The pizza had great flavors -- we enjoyed the pepperoni (definitely unique in style -- more like sausage, really) adn the spring onion with mint and anchovy. It was a bit soggy, but the flavor of the crust and toppings made up for it.

            Surpised to see some criticisms of the beer list. I thought it was one of the better lists around. Enjoyed an Almanac Saison and Heretic Brewing rye.

            1. re: The Dive

              Oh yeah, I thought the flavor was fantastic, but just could NOT get over the grainy texture. Had one shortly after at Saul's, which was so, so good, but very rich. Like eating a bowl of butterscotch flavored whipped cream...mmmmmmmm!

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Going through my receipts reminded me that we also tried the butterscotch pudding. It's not really my kind of thing, but the one we got was creamy and smooth.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I have been 3 times so far and the first 2 times I felt the same way about the pizza. However, this past time the pizza was a bit over-scorched while still underdone. No crispness. I was definitely disappointed after having already tasted how good it can be.

              The places I have found to be most consistent in the East Bay are Dopo and Paesan's. Both have been around a lot longer. My hope is that i just went on an off night where a new chef was learning the ropes or they were having temperature issues.

              I will say that when my dining partner mentioned something about the pizza not being as good as she remembered, our waiter - said "our pizza is done in a wood oven - that's the way it comes out". Thought that response was unwarranted seeing as she had eaten there several times and knew what the pizza typically tastes like...

              1. re: Ashley12

                If you like Dopo, you might want to try Benchmark, in Kensington. The chef-owner developed Dopo's dough recipe.


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I have been to Benchmark twice and don't think the pizza dough resembles Dopo. It is closer to Pizzaiolo than Dopo.

                    1. re: Scott M

                      I agree, Benchmark's crust is closer to Pizzaiolo's than Dopo's, though it's not really all that similar to either or any other I've had.

              2. Went for lunch yesterday with friends from out of town and they raved about it. We started with smoked wings, which were delicious and very smoky. My wife had the burger and reported it was good (the bite I had was nice, but since she orders medium-well I'll wait on ranking this one until I can enjoy one myself). The potato puffs that came with the burger were fried mashed, light and delicious. Our visitors loved the veggie soup and salad and the table split both a margherita pizza and a sausage. They were both very good, but I have to put it a slight notch below Boot and Shoe.

                In a small oversight due to my over-consumption of the ever-delicious Linden St. Black Lager, I forgot to order the fried pickles. Like "accidentally" leaving an umbrella behind at a pretty girl's house--a good reason to return.

                We ate inside and it was loud without being crazy and perfect for dining with a baby in tow (there were quite a few tots in there). Our first choice was to check out Lungomare but they were not open for lunch and I'm glad we wound up here. The cheese curds looked and smelled great--we almost ordered some for dessert!

                2 Replies
                1. re: lakemerritter

                  Did you notice if the pickles were chips or spears? Just passed La Dee's Diner(closed and now Cary's, no pickles on the menu) and Best Lil' Porkhouse's (spears are not a good substitute). and want deep fried chips.

                  1. re: wolfe

                    I did not notice pickle format, but I will make it my mission to find out tomorrow evening when I make a detour on my way home from work! Alderwood. Smoked. Salt. Man, wait 'til I tell my dad that one, he is going to keel over laughing...

                2. It delivered! Had the fried cheese curds, 2 pizzas, and mussels. All were awesome. Love the fire pits outside and the dog-friendly patio! Great beer on tap too and the inside is modern and spacious. Would be a great place to watch a basketball game, drink a beer, and have some delicious eats. Will have to go back for the smoked chicken wings!

                  1. Went to the Forge last night on a whim (early Valentine's Day dinner!). Got there about 8:45 pm, no waiting for a table. Nice space, could see it being good to watch some sports. Spent some time wondering what business previously occupied the space.

                    Started with the argula salad. The slices of blood orange were especially tasty, but I also really liked the dressing.

                    Timing was off, though, when my husband's pepperoni pizza arrived soon after. My entree didn't come for quite a while longer (although that gave me more time to eat the salad).

                    My husband enjoyed his pepperoni although he was disappointed to find out it didn't automatically come with mozzarella.

                    My halibut was fine, but outdone by the bed of green lentils and roasted vegetables it was on.

                    I managed to save enough room to try out the apple ginger crisp. Barely sweet with an excellent crunchy topping. Might have been even better with ice cream :-)

                    When the check came, found out the dessert had been comped because of the food timing -- nice touch. Wish I could have tried the mussels and chicken wings... maybe next time.

                    1. Went over the weekend and enjoyed dinner. Overall, everything was done well. Had the chicken wings and mussels to start. The mussels were perfectly cooked and came with two slices of grilled bread. I wish they had thrown some of their house made chorizo into the dish, it needed a little kick but they were still wonderful. The chicken wings had a very nice smoky quality. I would have liked for them to have been dusted with a little cayenne pepper, as they too could benefit from a little kick.

                      Also had the fire roasted vegetables (carrots, turnips and beets) served in an iron skillet. They were fine, I especially liked the turnips with their greens. They would have been even better if they finished them with a little sea salt and drizzle of olive oil after roasting.

                      The pizza was good and the crust texture reminded me of Zero Zero. However, I think the Forge crust is more flavorful.

                      The chocolate cheesecake was nice and not too sweet. I like the fact that the desserts tend to not be overly sweet.

                      The service was friendly but timing was a little off with starters coming late, wrong drinks coming to the table but nothing serious and I am sure they will get ironed out.

                      I would go back if I was in the area but there are so many good pizza places that I don't think it is worth driving out of your way to try.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Scott M

                        we enjoyed our pizzas at Forge as much as any we've had locally in the wood fired, quasi-Napoletana style. the margherita, with basil way out of season, could have used the fresh leaves on top but was very good ; outstanding was the rapini, with a good dose of that bitter crucifer balanced by the fresh house made chorizo, onion and cheese. your observation that improved details with your appetizers applied to our chicory salad as well -- the different radicchios were delicious, but needed just a bit more of the crisp apple slices and gorgonzola, the deep fried shallots didn't contribute much.

                        the interior of the place is ridiculously loud and set up like a sports bar ; fortunately it wasn't too cold with the suspended heaters to eat outside. people who don't want pizza have limited choices, and they seem to have set up the menu with that intention because they deep fry some items but do not offer frites with the mussels, meats only come as pizza toppings, with two non pizza entrees, fresh fish or buttermilk fried chicken.

                        service was quite good, they were stuffed with patrons wall to wall inside but didn't neglect us outside in any fashion.

                        1. re: moto

                          also worth mentioning, they have a pretty good selection of west coast microbrews on tap. the most distant brewery on their list is in OR, and they don't have the usual suspects like anchor, sierra nevada, or boont/andersonville, but favor smaller bay area sources. the wine list has some pretty good Italian reds, not the expected run of the mill sports bar selection, which is interesting because the pizza is the only thing on the menu within the cal-italian continuum.

                          1. re: moto

                            Was about to add this. The on tap beer selection is really quite fantastic. Beer revolution was incredibly crowded this weekend, so we walked over to forge and enjoyed on par quality local microbrews in the awesome outdoor area. Didn't even eat and had a great time.

                      2. Passed by Thursday night; no seats at the bar, line out the door for the communal tables and booths which make up the majority of the seating. So we left, returning Saturday afternoon.

                        As a beer person I found the list laughably weak, given that they tout it in the name of the restaurant. Cocktails, however, are top-notch- though they didn't come out before we ordered food, even on a slow Saturday afternoon.

                        Cheese curds: about 1/3 of our order actually had cheese; the rest was just fried dough. Would've been good if it were fried cheese instead of fried...nothing.

                        Salad: very good; what we got was not the advertised romaine but a good mix of dark green leafy lettuces dressed perfectly and topped with a judicious smattering of well-crisped breadcrumbs and three slivers of deviled egg. Very nice presentation; this dish put to shame the salad we had at Boot and Shoe a few days ago.

                        Pizza: we ordered the sausage, jalapeno and olive. There is a major problem with pizza here. One side of the cornicione was blackened beyond belief- sooty, indeed. The other side was underdone if anything. Worse, all the toppings (sausage, olive, fresh jalapeno) were on the charred side- the other half of the pie was just cheese and sauce.

                        The undercarriage was nicely spotted but couldn't stand up to the sauce and toppings, making every slice a sad, droopy disaster.

                        Not going back until someone here tells me these issues have been resolved.

                        4 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            You're right but judging by this pic linked to on their website they're OK with uneven char:


                            Lengthy discussion of their controversial Valoriani oven here:


                            1. re: Pius Avocado III

                              My trial an early version of the pizza at Eat Real Festival was seriously black and bitter.

                              1. re: Pius Avocado III

                                Interesting. So lots of pros think you need to run that oven a little cooler to get even cooking. Maybe that was the case when I was there.

                                I think that link is just in their Twitter feed, not something they chose to link to. Though this photo from their own Flickr photostream also shows uneven char:


                          2. Very loud on Saturday night. Pizzas were fine without any of the nonuniformity experienced by PAIII. Major problem with the special short ribs which consisted of 1 less than 3" rectangle with one diner returning it untasted due to it being almost all fat and a second who enjoyed her taste until she discovered what was left was mostly fat. Both were removed from the bill. Service-wise we had trouble with lack of silverware to the extent I had to break out the old "taste the soup" joke.

                            1. Dinner last night was good - we enjoyed the sausage pizza. The crust has great flavor and texture, but was just a touch more charred than I like. Salads are dressed well. Buttermilk fried chicken was overfried. Service was efficient and pacing was excellent.

                              I am surprised that no one has commented on the seating - most of the inside seats are backless, high stools. I don't mind these if I'm walking into a restaurant without a reservation, but when I've planned ahead and made a reservation, and a restaurant has both tables with chairs *and* high tables with stools, I expect a seat with a back. To her credit, the hostess offered to let us know if a table opened up, and followed up on it, but we were already on our salads by that time and opted to stay where we were. The discomfort did preclude us from staying for dessert though. There are very few two-tops with chairs, but there are a number of comfortable looking booths that can seat up to six.

                              1. Looks like a smaller version may be coming to Danville. It would be located in a space attached to the Lunardi's supermarket, where to date, many a Gelato shop has gone to die. Hopefully, it will do better. Sign says "coming soon".

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Ian F

                                  Yikes, Danville? Not a great sign...

                                2. Had a horrible asparagus salad recently. Maybe half an asparagus on a giant plate. The three cheese crust is good but needs more lemon.

                                  Also, I guess they got rid of the hot sauce/chili oil? Now just crushed red pepper.... weak. Maybe they should consult with Berkeley's new hot sauce shop.

                                  Starting to get turned off by the outdoor firepit area too. Think don't come here unless you are in the mood to drink and ready to be yelled at by some drunk guy by the fire pit.

                                  Crust remains solid but so is Lungomare. Hope it doesn't go downhill. It's a good space and location so it would be easy to just coast on that.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: hungree

                                    we've only tried each place once, but from that very limited sample we preferred the pizza at Forge over Lungomare, by far. non pizza dishes were also more compatible to our tastes at Forge, as well. it's the loud sports bar set up that's likely to limit our visits.

                                  2. We stopped by on Friday for a quick bite, didn't realize it was a pizza place (no mention on sign). Looks like a sports bar with some nice outdoor seating. Wait was 20 mins at 8p but there was open communal table seating which is FCFS. Interesting input from our waiter on what to order: all the apps, no mention of pizza or mains. So we proceeded with fried cheese curds (really good, could have eaten the entire order), halbut crudo (tasty but pan seared on one side), smoked chicken wings (nicely smoky, a bit too salty, but not flabby), and the pepperoni pizza (the saltiness of the meat wasn't balanced by the sauce or peppers, not a fan of red sauce pizzas without cheese, crust was oddly flat like flatbread but I liked the char). The potato pizza that was mistakenly delivered to us looked better. The cocktails were a real bargain at $7-8, we tried four, all deliciously inventive, full pours. I'd go back for apps and drinks waterside on a nice afternoon .

                                    1. Had a really good special pizza, the Fat Boy with guanciale, sausage, chiles, fresh herbs, and two eggs.

                                      Tasted the huevos rancheros, tasty and very nicely assembled.

                                      Did not order the No Hitter special with "ballpark fries," mozzarella, and hot sauce, but took a photo to prove that I'm not making that up.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Yesterday a guy across the bar from me had the fry-topped pizza; he didn't look pleased at all. The "super freak" was the same with an egg.

                                        I still haven't ordered another pie since giving them 3 solid chances, but the pizzas coming out yesterday looked good.

                                      2. Finally made it here last night, early outdoor dinner on a beautiful warm sunny evening. Had the fried cheese curds and roasted shishito peppers apps – peppers were great, sizzling from the wood oven with lime roasted in the cast iron skillet. Cheese curds were fine, not too greasy but bland and tomato sauce with them was totally flavorless, not worth the calories for me. Well made cocktail at $9 is a bargain these days. Really good beer list and I like that you can get a 20 ounce beer. Had the mushroom pizza and pepperoni pizza, both really good, each had several other ingredients – sausage, olives, peppers. Loved the crust, slightly sour, perfectly cooked. Sauce and toppings wise I think Boot and Shoe is better, the tomato sauce lacked the piquancy of B&S/Pizzaiola, but these were very good and I’d go back for sure. Service was great, they let us order apps/kids meal first, modified their cocktail to make it less sweet, etc.
                                        And before Robert calls out Boot and Shoe again for their loud music, know that Forge was blaring a 3 cd rotation of Styx/Boston/Foreigner at top volume on this beautiful evening, which was worse than anything I’ve ever encountered at B&S or Pizzaiola.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: sunnyside

                                          Maybe they were trying to encourage turnover.

                                          Are they still charging $6 for 16 ounces and $8 for 20 ounces? I found it bizarre that they wanted to charge 1/3 more for 25% more beer.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Hah, well the food did come out really quickly. yes $6 and $8. Beer was nice and cold and tap was clean.