Pizza Moda - Berkeley
Former Fellini / Divino space, been open for a while. Inside Scoop reports the owner is the guy who started Fellini, the chef worked at Pizzaiolo, Boot & Shoe, and Gioia, on Wednesdays they're offering any bottle of wine on their by-the-glass list (regularly $20-30) on their list for $15, and Thursdays there's no corkage.
Currently open Wed.-Sun., 5:30-9:30 (10:00 Fri. & Sat.). Any pizza can be made gluten-free, any of the vegetarian combos can be made vegan. Menu includes some Fellini-ish starters and a few desserts.
I hope the pizza is better than Fellini's. I had one of the worst pizzas of my life there. But if the cook is a veteran of Pizzaiolo and Gioia, it ought to be good.
Tried it last night.
Very nice shaved asparagus salad with almonds ($7.50).
Perfectly fried fritto misto with sweet potato, asparagus, fennel ($8).
Very good pizza with Fra'Mani sausage, red onion, and kale ($14 small / $18 large). The crust had good flavor, nice balance of crunch and chew, right amount of scorch.
Some good beers on tap $4.50 a pint, nice selection of wines $6-8 a glass. Wednesday night all BTG wines are $15 a bottle, Thursday night free corkage.
Generous portions, very good value. Overall pretty similar to Fellini but with better food and I'm very happy they have a pork option for the pizza.
As always, lots of free parking in their own lot and easy wheelchair access.
I ate here recently and had a pretty good experience. The main downside was that I didn't love the crust on the pizza...it had a slightly bitter flavor and was a bit too dry in the thick part, and meanwhile not quite crispy enough on the bottom. We had one with onion, fennel and the spicy chicken sausage, and I thought these were fine. A small 12 inch pizza is listed as serving two people, but it came sliced into 8 medium sized slices, so we split it 3 ways along w/ two other things.
Kale caesar salad was pretty straightforward and not especially interesting, but it was made with baby kale which was tender.
Macaroni and cheese, which I tend not to order at restaurants, was actually a highlight for me. It's made with fontina, cheddar and gorgonzola (though you can't really detect the gorgonzola...it's used sparingly), and also had leeks in it. The sauce was creamy and the cheese blend really worked for me. If you like mac and cheese, this one is worth trying. You can add pancetta to it, which we did not do.
As of Tuesday night, Pizza Moda is my favorite East Bay pizza. I know, big time. What happened was that I finally tried Emilia's. And, to my surprise, it wasn't better than Pizza Moda's. Specifically, the crust didn't have the depth of flavor or chew. That crust is why I'm perfectly happy with a relatively simple pizza there. The sauce is also nice and bright. I will say that Emilia's sausage was like Proust's madeleine to me -- one taste and I was back in New Haven, where I'm from. Much better than PM's sausage, to my taste. My best all-around in pizza right now is a PM Margherita with pancetta added.
The fritto misto and salads have also been very good.
I've been twice. The first time the crust was one of the best I've ever had. The second time, I don't know if it was underbaked, the oven wasn't at proper temp, or whomever was making the pizza wasn't experienced enough, but the crust wasn't even close to visit one (and we had 2 pies). I'll probably return soon and I figure that visit 2 was a one-off, given the above report.
This made me realize I forgot one thing: I routinely ask pizza places to make mine well done, extra crispy, etc. I grew up on New Haven pizza that typically has some char on the bottom and dark blisters on top. The slight bitterness balances out the sweet in the tomatoes. Even the good pizza-makers out here tend to send out pies that are too blond for my taste.
PM seems to do their red sauce pies better than the others, too, IMO.