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Aug 26, 2013 11:21 AM

Zachary's Chicago Pizza - yay or nay? [Berkeley]

Hi all...

Headed to SF in a couple of weeks, staying at the Intercontinental near the convention center, no car. Is a trip over to Zachary's in Berkeley worth it? Way back in college a couple of buddies were raving about this place, to the point where they had their pizza's shipped down to LA - since then, I've been curious to try it and since I'm going to be in SF, figure that I might as well, but since its out of the way from the rest of my itinerary, I wonder if its worth bothering? Are there any other Chicago style pizza places that would be comparable / as good and closer to my hotel / easier to reach without a car?

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    1. re: abstractpoet

      Second on that. Zachary's is usually a soggy mess of undercooked dough and too much wet tomato glop. Little Star is world-class.

      The Little Star in the Mission is easy to reach on public transportation.

      1. re: abstractpoet

        Agreed. I never much liked Zachary's. It got a lot of hype back in the day because it was the only game in town. Not any more.
        Paxti's and Little Star seems to be the choice of my friends who have relocated here from Chicago as well.

      2. I personally don't like deep dish pizza, but some think Paxti's is quite good. There is one within easy cabbing distance in Hayes Valley for you. Zachary's uses canned tomatoes that are way too acidic for my taste--it's all I can taste when I eat their DD, ugh.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rubadubgdub

          Little Star is quite different than Zachary's. That said, I go to Little Star every few months. I go to Zachary's, on average, once every 5 years.

          Way back in college, your buddies were probably high. I'm sure the pizza was delicious.

        2. A resounding nay. Never had good pizza at Zaccharies. As has been mentioned the sauce uses canned tomatoes. Not necessarily a bad thing except the sauce had a dreadful metallic aftertaste to me. The pizza really is dreadful in my opinion but the place allways looks packed. Little star is an order of magnitude better.

          1. All of the prior post-ers are right.

            My kids--and husband, who should definitely know better--have always liked Zachary's; and all locations are typically packed. So we're not just talking Cal students w/ the munchies.

            But I think Zachary's may have the worst crust I've ever tasted on a pizza--tough, tasteless, and soggy all at once--and the seasoning on the tomato glop is sharp and...just lousy.

            I second Little Star in the Mission, if you're wanting pizza that's an easy BART/Muni ride from your hotel. I don't know what other hounds think of Pauline's--also in the Mission--I like their pesto pizza and salads, but I esp. like the not-trendy old-SF vibe.

            For a fun evening in North Beach (easy to get to), Tony's make a satisfying, Italian-style pie.

            Finally, if you're talking pizza distinctive to the Bay Area, there are the so-called California wood-fired pizzas--I dream about pizzas w/ nettles or other greens @ Chez Panisse Cafe (North Berkeley BART + a short cab ride--y-- a pizza and salad and wine make a not-pricey and beyond delicious meal) and places it's spawned (eg. Pizzaiola--Temescal--Macarthur BART + a short cab ride)

            8 Replies
            1. re: sundeck sue

              Agree on the nettle pizza at Chez Panisse Café. I still dream about it.

              I don't jones for pizza but I've had several really outstanding pies on our trips to the Bay Area. I totally get the nostalgia thing but there are so many unique pizza options that are really quite outstanding in the Bay Area if you can let go of the Chicago-style hankering :-).

              1. re: grayelf

                One thing is that I'm from LA and so I don't have a shortage of California-style pizza that I can get pretty easily. Unless there's a night and day improvement in California style pizza in SF vs. LA, I'd probably pass on it this trip.

                As for thin vs. thick / NY vs. Chicago style, I like both, though I prefer Chicago style but in LA we don't have a lot of good Chicago style around, especially places that are easy to reach from the central parts of LA. My go-to thick crust pizza in LA is, sadly, Numero Uno, because its the only thing that's easy to get to that's remotely like what I'm after. So that's why I'm looking to take advantage of my time in SF if possible to get some better thick crust pizza than what I can get at home.

                1. re: Marvin

                  If Pizzeria Mozza is as good as Cal-Italian pizza gets in LA, yes, the difference is night and day.

                  Little Star's deep-dish is several orders of magnitude better than the modern chain Uno's.

              2. re: sundeck sue

                I also like Pauline's, sundecksue, for the reasons you list. I always get the special pizzas, which can be hit or miss, but I like to try them.

                And yes, I prefer Little Star to Zachary's, but I'll admit I don't generally care for deep dish pizza.

                1. re: sundeck sue

                  @ sundecksue, Wow, you think Tony's Pizza Napoletana makes a satisfying, Italian-style pie? Tony's amazingly makes just about every style of pizza known to man...but the Neapolitan styles, the coal fired,NY style pies next door are about as good as it gets!

                  1. re: lapizzamaven

                    >next door<

                    Meaning not at Tony's? If so, where?

                    1. re: lapizzamaven

                      I've found Tony's inconsistent. I think they're trying to do more things than they can handle.

                  2. The original Zachary's in Oakland is a lot easier to get to via BART.

                    About one block from the Oakland Rockridge station.

                    "Nobody goes to Zachary's any more because its too crowded"