Cheese Board Pizza straight from the oven. All photos: Christina Diaz

Today this space is all about cheese. And crust. And toppings.

Got opinions about who turns out the best pizza in town? We know you do. So here’s your chance to share your pie picks with fellow readers.

That’s right folks, today, the Friday food column takes a break from regularly scheduled programming to poll readers about their pizza preferences. (The first in an occasional series where residents weigh in on their favorite foods found close to home.)

We know that for every die-hard devotee of Cheese Board pizza there’s an equally loyal Gioia fan to be found.

There’s pizza for all palates and pocketbooks here, whether you favor California-style, wood-fired pies pioneered by the  Chez Panisse crew (foraged greens and artisan goat cheese, anyone?), Brooklyn-inspired bites with trademark thin crusts and judicious use of ingredients, or the sloppy cheese slices popular among the campus crowd.

To kick off this quest we’ve named, in alphabetical order, a dozen pizzerias around town. It’s by no means an exhaustive list; feel free to share your own go-to place when your thoughts turn to thin (or thick, your call) crust.

Tell us, too, why you prefer a certain pizza purveyor. Details about crust, cheese, toppings — along with craft, cost, and convenience — will go a long way to making this a handy guide for fellow pizza aficionados.

Feel free to vote for your own home-cooked crust (or the pizza mom or dad make) or for pies turned out at places where pizza isn’t the main (or only) item on the menu such as Giovanni, Jupiter or Summer Kitchen.

But just to be clear: Charlie Hallowell’s Pizzaiolo is in Oakland, people.

Editor’s Note: When the votes are in, Berkeleyside will compile a definitive Top 10 Berkeley Pizzas list — as ranked by our readers — and we will pull names out of a hat to offer one voter a free pizza from the pizza joint of their choice.

San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer gives Gioia's pies a thumbs up

1. Addie’s Pizza Pie: Think New York-style crust with Cali-centric toppings. Owned by Jennifer Millar, who runs Sweet Adeline Bakeshop, and Thomas Schnetz of Doña TomásFlora and Tacubaya. Families from nearby Malcolm X School welcome this relatively new addition to the ‘hood. Read a review of Addie’s in the East Bay Express3290 Adeline Street (at Ashby), 547-1100.

2. Arinell Pizza: Fast, no frills or fancy toppings on these no-nonsense slices. Check out what eaters say on Yelp, including “Arinell’s pizza drips orange grease; its crust is thin and floppy.  Nothing contrived, nothing trendy, nothing that people who groove on stuff like that latch onto.” 2119 Shattuck (at Center), 841-4035. No cards.

3. Blondie’s Pizza: Another slice-centric hole-in-the-wall caters to night owls and campus goers. Find out what Cal students and others think about these pies on Yelp. And read the P.O.V. of an out-of-towner on Serious Eats2340 Telegraph Avenue (at Durant), 548-1129.

Taking pizza from the oven at Emilia's

4. Cheese Board Pizzeria: Beloved Gourmet Ghetto haunt for more than 20 years. Long lines, cool tunes, popular politics. This co-op counts Alice Waters among its fans. But, it must be said, there’s only one vegetarian choice on the menu each day and it comes sans sauce. Read what food critic Michael Bauer makes of this pie. 1512 Shattuck (at Vine), 549-3183. Cash or check only.

5. Emilia’s Pizzeria: Another newcomer to the South Berkeley pie scene, Emilia’s offers made-to-order, build-your-own, old-school pizzas. It has quickly developed something of a cult following (a certain quirk factor helps) with Sunset naming it one of the best Bay Area pizza joints last year. More details over at The Epicurean Zealot2995 Shattuck Avenue (at Ashby). Cash only. Reservations, beginning at 4 p.m., highly recommended, 704-1794.

6. Extreme Pizza: Two locations for this national franchise with pie names like Drag It Through the Garden and Peace in the Middle East. Someone on the creative team worked hard at HQ to come up with those monikers. Yelpers weigh in here and here2353 Shattuck (at Durant), 486-0770 and 3204 College (at Alcatraz), 420-0770.

7. Fat Slice Pizza: Another long-time pie place dishing up thick slices to UC students and the pre-game set. Opinions about this pie on Yelp too. 2375 Telegraph Avenue (at Durant), 548-6479.

Zachary's signature deep-dish pizza

8. Gioia: Perfect pedigree for this good food obsessed city: Thin crust, East-Coast style pizza with mostly organic, sustainably raised local ingredients. Chronicle critic Bauer gives Gioia’s pies a thumbs up; check out this recent write up on Serious Eats. 1586 Hopkins Street (at Monterey), 528-4692.

9. Lanesplitter: This local chain has a location in West Berkeley and reviews on Yelp. A point of difference from this pie place: An option for vegans, their trademarked soy-based cheese alternative Notta Ricotta. 2033 San Pablo Avenue (at Addison), 845-1652.

10. Paisan Pizzeria: Authentic Neapolitan pizzas made by a pizzaiolo named Francesco Pece who hails, well, from Naples. This neighborhood eatery, the sixth for Haig Krikorian and Cindy Lalime, has been packing people in since it opened last year. Learn more from Carol Ness at the Chronicle. 2514 San Pablo (at Dwight), 649-1031.

11. Pepe’s: Newcomer whose claim to fame (infamy?) may be its all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for $6.99 — the sort of thing that makes slow food folks like Waters shudder. Not so East Bay food critic Anneli Rufus2516 Durant Avenue (at Telegraph), 644-9999.

12. Zachary’s: Local chain serves deep-dish, Chicago-style, saucy pies. Frequent “best” pizza pick by consumers in local press. 1835 Solano Avenue (at Colusa), 525-5950.

Let the voting begin.

Sarah Henry is the voice behind Lettuce Eat Kale. You can follow her on Twitter and become a fan of Lettuce Eat Kale on Facebook.

West Berkeley photographer Christina Diaz likes to shoot life as it happens. She favors Emilia’s pizza when she wants sauce and, when she doesn’t, she chooses Cheese Board.

Out in Berkeley: Delectable blues with Cheese Board Pizza [4.21.11]
Open near campus: Pepe’s pizza for hungry folk [3.15.11]
Addie’s pizza pie will open for business this week [09.13.10]
Berkeley Bites: Summer Kitchen & Bake Shop [08.06.10]
Numero due for pizza [01.25.10]
The lunchtime music scene at the Cheeseboard [09.04.11]

218 replies on “Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley? You tell us”

  1. I agree that the pizza and salad selections did seem worse in June.  I didn’t know about staff changes.  Good news is, on a visit in mid-July things seemed back to their old quality.

  2. Bobby G’s doesn’t only have great pizza, it has the best beer line up in Berkeley, including Pliny the Elder!

  3. Oh, and even though I’m not really a huge fan of La Val’s (mostly mediocre flavors, inconsistent quality), their cheese slices are the bomb, especially for a late-night snack.

  4. Oh, and even though I’m not really a huge fan of La Val’s (mostly mediocre flavors, inconsistent quality), their cheese slices are the bomb, especially for a late-night snack.

  5. Emilia’s is the best pizza I’ve ever had, by a healthy margin. Even the best neapolitan-style pizzas in SF can’t compare, IMO. The sauce is amazing, the crust is perfect, the cheese is creamy and melty, and it’s run entirely by one awesome fellow. It’s too bad he doesn’t sell half-pies!

    After that, Gioia and Cheeseboard are tied for second, because they both do very different things with their pizza. Cheeseboard has a wide variety of unique flavor combinations and a lovely atmosphere, while Gioia is consistently toasty and delicious, but much more ordinary.

    Sadly, I wasn’t impressed by the margherita pizza at Addie’s, but the decor and frozen custard alone are worth coming back for.

  6. As of now, we have closed comments on this post in order to count the votes. Thank you for your astonishing response and fervent views! Expect to see the results of the votes on Friday June 10th.

  7. You didn’t even mention what I consider to be the best pizza found in my 14 years in Berkeley- Bobby G’s!
    I don’t really like the athmosphere, but I like the pizza!

  8. Gioia’s peperoni is sublime, but how could you have missed mentioning Lo Coco, our Sicilian restaurant? Their pizza with eggplant, garlic, and artichoke hearts is so so delicious. 

  9. I admit I have not tried others, but whenever we go to Berkeley to visit our daughter we go to Zachary’s for their deep dish. Even went there for a late lunch on the same day we went to a relative for dinner.

  10. I agree that we have some really great pizza options for a relatively small town.  But what really gets me is that you can’t get a decent pizza DELIVERED!  I have lived in a number of cities, many of which had universities, and there is fierce competition to deliver pizzas to those campuses.  Now I live right next to the Cal campus and my only options for delivery either have really bad pizza or they fail to show up (really- I’ve had to cancel after an hour wait with two places).  I would even take Dominoes (scary I know but I have kids), but the Dominoes outlet that used to deliver here is gone.  Isn’t there a business opportunity here?  Don’t students still order late night pizza, or am I just out of the scene and everyone is making their own in the dorm?   

  11. I had the same experience at Gioia: cheese so thick and rubbery I was gagging on it and crust so soggy I just couldn’t do it. I actually walked my slice back in after two bites and asked for my money back. They didn’t seem to care about my complaints, but they did give me my money back.

    My favorite pizza is what I bake from scratch. Haven’t tried the newer pizza places. Arinels I love for the nostalgia (been eating there for 25+ years) and tasty sauce. But it is so gross how the cashier puts the toppings on with his bare hands after taking the money and in 25 years I’ve never seen hand washing going on there. I just hope the hot ovens kills things. Cheeseboard good for the vibe, but if I eat more than one piece of pizza I feel sick. And where the heck is the sauce? Wrong, not pizza!

  12. I love Addie’s pizza, and frequent the restaurant thanks to its friendly staff and atmosphere.  However, the chef just recently changed!  The menu went from being fresh and unique to typical… gone are the artisan, Cali-influenced salads and pizza toppings, replaced with your typical Caesar (over-dressed), iceberg wedge, and green salad, and typical pizzas like Vegetarian and Greek.  They had a great rotating pasta special, too, with a delicious veggie lasagna, now replaced with a nightly Spaghetti-and-meatballs.  What happened to the old chef??  Is the new one still just finding his/her groove??  I really hope they don’t lose what momentum they had with this major change…

  13. Will have to go with Cheeseboard on this, but haven’t had a chance to try Emilia’s yet.

  14. Bobby G’s (on University below Shattuck) surely deserves a mention!  High-quality ingredients, classic crust and flavor.  Try the margherita before branching out — it’s really good.

  15. I haven’t eaten at all the places mentioned, but of those I have I vote for:
    1.  Gioia  2. Summer Kitchen  3. Arinell

  16. Plus, La Val’s holds the record for most beer and pizza consumed by large tables of engineering grad students arguing in several languages. Who knows what scientific breakthroughs have been born there.

  17. Emilia’s is the best, better than any pizza in the Bay Area (with the possible exception of Pizzaiolo/Boot & Shoe).  

    Gioia is #2.  

    Cheeseboard is fine, but it’s not really pizza and tends to often be a bit too cheesy and heavy, especially if you don’t eat it immediately.  

    Bobby G’s is a great spot too if you want to go sit down, get beers, watch the game, etc…just a hair above Lanespitter (make sure to get 2 or fewer toppings at Lanespitter, or the pizza is soggy).

    Arinell is a decent slice as long as you get cheese and no toppings.

    Zachary’s is fairly mediocre…I am from the East Coast and not a deep dish fan, but Chicago natives do not give this place good reviews either.

  18. Jupiter is the best….  Thin crust and wood oven, it doesn’t get any better.

  19. Best I’ve had in Berkeley and my vote is for Summer Kitchen (creative without going crazy, clean, tasty, awesome crust).  Equally loving Gather (same with some delicious meats).

    Gioia:  Quite good, but NY is not my favorite.  It’s me, not you. Staff has been super cool and quick.

    Lanesplitter:  For the life of me, I can’t understand the draw.  Had their pizzas twice, both had crusts that were soggy, almost wet, flimsy and low on flavor.  I keep thinking I am missing something.  People are super nice.  Can they make a crisp or relatively dry crust that I can eat with my hands?

    Zachary’s: A salt bomb. Delicious, but the sauce seems like it is more salt than tomatoes sometime. A madhouse, but when I crave it, I haven’t found a substitute.

    Oh– if you want to drive — in Geyserville is perhaps the best pizza I have ever had.  Memorably good crust, perfect proportions, and yes– we drive there from the East Bay just for lunch.

  20. Many in Berkeley have forgotten La Val’s Pizza on Euclid Ave…it was the Berkeley’s first pizza restaurant and it is still going strong after over 40 years. About three years ago, the current owners, Izat and Steve, improved the crust dough, and the current variety of pizzas are the best value in Berkeley. Northside eateries on Euclid Avenue are the best kept scret in Berkeley.

  21. sorry — marvelous soft crust on the bottom of the pizza, and orange grease above

  22. Cheese Board isn’t serving pizza; rather it’s pizza dough with new-agey, California cuisine toppings with no sauce. Granted, the crust is good — but come on, potatoes are not a pizza topping. Plus, the disgusting drip of oil is just too much… oil from pizza should come from melted cheese, not a healthy pour from the olive oil bottle. Zachary’s is chicago style- a pizza per se, and indisputably delicious, but not pizza in the generally accepted definition of the word.

    Worst pizza I’ve ever had was in Milan; best pizza ever was in the upper West side at one of the Ray’s. 

    For Berkeley:  Lanesplitter, Gioia, Arinell’s all have Real Pizza that are really good. Real toppings. No silly non-pizza toppings and no jazz bands… just pizza done right.  Have to admit I need to try Addie’s on Adeline street, but can’t add them to my “best of” list right now. 

  23. All roads lead to Berkeley.  I’ll vote for Little Chicago (used to operate out of the West Coast Pizza storefront).  According to Robert Lauriston’s website, the owner then started Little Star.

  24. My vote is Zachary’s.  The stuffed spinach and mushroom is utterly reliable and delicious.  Their thin slices are the best $3.50 lunch in town.  They are employee owned and that counts for me way more than the ambiance of the cool people who stand in line for the hippest pie du jour.  Several of the other purveyors have things to recommend them,  but nostalgia or sentimentality about authenticity doesn’t cut any ice with me unless the pizza is just plain wonderful. 

  25. Hey, you are missing the best pizza in town–La Coco at Shattuck and Rose.  Absolutely the best!  The crust is great–not soggy.  The toppings, including the pepperoni are terrific.  Definitely the best in Berkeley!

  26. Cheese Board does take Visa/Mastercard now I believe if you spend 10 dollars or more….

  27. 2 votes here (one for me and one for my hubby).  But, I did have to check that Little Star really isn’t in Berkeley.
    His: Zachary’s
    Mine: Gioia (what can I say, I’m from NY)

  28. Although I have already voted once, after visiting Fat Slice yesterday I’m making a second vote for them too, just because their unadvertised, unpretentious museum-worthy collection of ORIGINAL Fillmore, Avalon, and related posters — just hanging there on the wall — are worth the $3.50 slice/price of admission. Their soft crust-orange grease pizza also rules, and you have to love a place that chains the cheese shakers to the wall. PS: don’t sit in the back; no posters, and disinfectant smell is quite strong.

  29. What, no West Coast Pizza? Maybe it’s a student thing, but West Coast is awesome. Try their ultimate cheese pizza (#10) or just the cheesy sticks. 

  30. In the specialty use categories: 

    – Cold Round Table is the #1 hangover breakfast pizza. 
    – Domino’s unrefrigerated leftovers remain edible longest.  
    – Pizza Hut pizza has the record for shortest elapsed time between desire and regret.

  31. One thing they have going for them is that they offer a gluten-free crust option, which is quite rare.  So if your circle of friends includes the gluten intolerant, take note!

  32. You can also shortcut part of it by using the premade dough from Trader Joe’s.  Makes delicious pizza in the oven or on the BBQ.

  33. I’m going to go for Addie’s followed by Gioia and LoCoco’s (especially their Sicilian pie). The Cheeseboard ought to be called Cardboard for their inedible crust. 

  34. Nope, full of ‘tude in my experience.  Also, they impose weird, arbitrary constraints on purchases.  “No, you can’t have 4 slices of that pie — someone else in line might want that kind too.”  Huh?  

  35. I would have said Cheeseboard, but then I moved to the Monterey Market area and now I say Goia’s, without a doubt. A slice of garlic arugula pizza fresh from the oven, eaten on the sidewalk is heaven!

  36. Bobby G’s!  The pan fried pizzas are super delish (the goat cheese and mushroom is my personal favorite), you can order slices with any of the toppings on them (even vegan slices), there are lots of good beers on tap, they are open late and have a bar to sit at where you can gab with friends and other locals.  

  37. Even going to New York 3-4 times a year, and having sampled tons of pizza in Berkeley over the past 17 years, I still can’t name a place that tops Gioia.

  38. Agreed! I love the consistent yumminess at Zachary’s but also go to Cheese Board whenever it is serving one of my favorites (and their potato pizza is my fav!). I follow @todays_pizza:twitter  on twitter to find out about the Cheese Board pizza of the day.

    However, I eat at Gioia’s at least as often as the other two. Love its variety and convenience and nice people – but its just one tiny bit lower on my list than Zachary’s or Cheese Board.

  39. What? The staff at Gioia is great! They always have a smile, even when busy, and have less staff turnover than most other places.

  40. Ditto on that!  Dave’s been to every one of our March 14th Pi Day Parties at Gioia’s.

  41. I agree, Bobby G’s is a well kept secret and probably the best pizza deal in town. FRESH spinach on their pizza. Great crust and great flavor.

    I walked past the place for years thinking it would be overrun with kids. It’s a very mixed group of people. Yeah, they have a bunch of TVs with sports but it’s actually very cozy in there. And if you don’t like sports, come on the night(s) they have music.

    Second favorite is Zachary’s. Since I live in the neighborhood, I’ll go to Gioia’s but thinks it’s just an average by-the-slice place. Nice to stop by after food shopping.

  42. Dave’s vote should count double.  He’s a pizza fanatic!  His last birthday party was pizza themed and had pizza from all over the bay area.  He has a sickness, I’m telling you.

  43. One of our favorite Berkeley pizzas is from Phoenix Pastifico (buy them straight out of their kitchen at Addison and Bonar).  They only make them Monday through Thursday, something like 3pm-7pm.  Worth calling ahead to make sure they have one.  There is usually a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian option.  The pizzas are cooked but not hot – they require heating in the oven for about 5 minutes.  The best part?  The crust is their olive bread!

  44. Ok – I know this post is about Berkeley but for delivery I’ll just add Rotten City in Emeryville since I know they deliver to Berkeley.  They make a nice thin-crust pizza (does take 45 -60 minutes) that we generally prefer to Lanesplitter.  

  45. Yep – I can get that way from time to time.  Thanks for bringing me back to earth!

  46. Under the heading of ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ (way past), Giovanni’s pizza was our sublime weekly treat…had one recently – still very tasty.

  47. Hi Readers and Berkeleyside, Great topic and comments. I like making my own pizza when I can. If you haven’t used a pizza stone before it makes a huge difference. I love making irregular shaped pies, thin crispy crust and just a few seasonal toppings. I’ve tried lots of crust recipes and am now using the one from Alice Water’s Simple Foods. It is all fairly easy to make from scratch. I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t done so.

  48. Goia’s wins.  Love Cheeseboard for what it is, but that is not pizza, they just call it that. 

  49.  Obviously this is a matter of opinion but I do want to clarify that I’ve conducted two blind taste tests between Zachary’s and Little Star (both deep dish) and Zachary’s came out on top both times.  The cornmeal crust was different on the LS and was preferred by a minority of tasters but nearly everyone liked Zachary’s quality and amount of cheese better.

  50.  Obviously this is a matter of opinion but I do want to clarify that I’ve conducted two blind taste tests between Zachary’s and Little Star (both deep dish) and Zachary’s came out on top both times.  The cornmeal crust was different on the LS and was preferred by a minority of tasters but nearly everyone liked Zachary’s quality and amount of cheese better.

  51. Wow, Tizzielish, Berkeleyside has changed your life — and all because of a pizza poll. Not to put a dampener on your enthusiasm, but as noted earlier, Little Star is in Albany, so that vote won’t count.

  52. Gather is downtown, at the corner of Oxford Street and Allston, across from UC, near the stadium, in the almost-new David Brower Center, a platinum LEEDS-rated almost-new office building.

  53. Until Berkeleyside did this pizza survey, I did not realize any pizza joint in the Bay Area did stuffed pizza but Zachary’s.  I can be so lame.  I don’t eat all that much pizza. I love deep dish. I stumbled into the Zachary’s by the Trader Joe’s on College before TJ’s opened in Berkeley and, after living in Mountain View for a few years, finding stuffed pizza, I stopped looking. Zachary’s was it.

    Thank you berkeleyside for your work on pizza.

    I did a little research. About five years ago, the Chron did a readers’ pizza survey and published an article that took some east coast pizza expert (and, I think, food critic) on a tour of Bay Area pizza.  This expert said that he could understand why so many people love Zachary’s pizza:  it has lots of good stuff on it, which is what people want in a stuffed pizza, but he says the key to pizza is to taste the crust first. He took one taste of Zachary’s and said it tasted like a dinner roll. He is right. He said it is heavy cause it’s low fat.

    Then this east coast pizza expert tasted Little Star stuffed and said it was very very good stuffed pizza.  I had to find out so I bought a stuffed pizza from Little Star.  This east coast pizza expert, the Chron food writer writing in about 2005, and a few folks posting here on Friday had all figured out that Little Star stuffed pizza is superior to Zachary’s.

    Zachary’s is good but the crust is heavy, flavorless:  it is just there, holdilng a bunch of very yummy, generous stuff, which is good enough. But not great. I like great pizza.

    So, berkeleyside, you have changed my life. I change my vote: my favorite stuffed pizza is Little Star.  I will not buy Zachary’s again.  I like the corn meal in the Little Star. I like the texture of the crust.

    I stick with Gather pizza for best thin crust pizza. I tend to go with their wild boar but if I am sharing with a vegetarian, I like to have Gather add an egg. Obviously I couldn’t do that with a vegan but, thus far, I have not shared a pizza with a vegan.

  54. I vote for Zachary’s deep dish spinach & mushroom–yum!  Always our favorite party food.

    I also miss Lola’s potato pizza (formerly on Solano–maybe in Albany, so it wouldn’t have counted.)

  55. Serkes,

    By contrast, lots of Berkeley-ites seem to have learned “if you can say something that might convince other people how morally superior you are, say it.”  You clearly fit in.

  56. Tizzielish,

    I kind of disagree with your premise.  It’s not that New Yorkers have the right to set the standard for what pizza is.  It’s that, when it comes to a plain slice, there is almost no pizza in California that compares to the pizza in New York.  It’s the basis for comparison because, at its best, it is extremely difficult to top.  I totally agree that “New York style” is basically a misnomer, but that’s mostly because the market is flooded with “New York style” pizza that is basically a poor imitation of New York pizza.  That’s what I like about Cheeseboard.  Their pizza is undeniably not New York style, but it is very very tasty.  That’s much better than trying to do New York style and doing it poorly.  But none of that changes the fact that New York pizza is absolutely delicious.

    It’s sort of comparable to asking who gave California the right to set the standard for hoppy IPA.  The answer is no one, but since the IPA you’re getting in California is almost definitely better than what you’d get in, say, New York, then that becomes the high water mark to which you compare everything else.

  57. I’m going to admit up front that I’m a total pizza snob.  I moved out here from NYC for grad school, and have spent the better part of the year complaining to my friends about the lack of good pizza options.  I also went to college in central Connecticut, which, believe it or not, has pizza on par with–and sometimes superior to–New York.  I’m actually writing this from New York City, where I’m visiting my family, and where I had pizza tonight that was vastly superior to almost anything I’ve had in Berkeley.  Anyway, here’s my take.

    First off, even listing Extreme Pizza is embarrassing.  That’s like asking for your favorite burger joint and listing McDonald’s as an option.  Similarly, Fat Slice is basically a slightly better version of Papa John’s.  After walking past the Pepe’s Hockey Puck mascot on Durant a thousand times, I have a hard time imagining them being any better, but I haven’t actually gone as far as to try it.  Nor, in truth, am I likely to.

    Now, while Cheeseboard is undeniably delicious, it’s not pizza.  Just because it’s bread in a circle with cheese on it doesn’t make it pizza.  Cheeseboard is no closer to being pizza than Taco Bell is to being tacos (though, in the opposite direction, since Taco Bell is un-fancy tacos while Cheeseboard is fancy pizza).  When you ask for a good pizza place, you mean a place to get a delicious slice with the right proportion of sauce, cheese, and crispy crust.  What you don’t mean is “where can I get something with potatoes and kale.”  Again, this is not a knock on Cheeseboard.  It’s delicious.  But if someone says “I’m really craving pizza” and you send them to Cheeseboard, you’re giving bad advice.

    For all the Gioia fans, I’m sorry, but that’s not it either.  In fairness to them, and all its fans on here, it’s possible that they had an off-day when I went.  Either way, the proportions were way off.  Far too much cheese and sauce for a thin-crust pie, and the crust just got soggy and greasy.  A good crust has a paper-thin layer of sogginess under the sauce, and is basically fresh bread crust underneath.  Gioia comes off as someone trying to do east coast pizza based on seeing a picture.

    Now, for the answer: Emilia’s.  Emilia’s, Emilia’s, Emilia’s.  No doubt it’s a pain to call them at 4pm and order your pie to pick up at 7:30.  But it is literally the only slice of pizza that I have had in the state of California that did not make me say “dammit, I miss New York.”  Instead I said “now this is pizza.”  Emilia’s is delicious.  The first time I went there, I didn’t know you had to call ahead, and I opted not to wait the hour and a half I would have had to wait for a made-to-order pie.  I told the chef/owner, “I’m a New Yorker who can’t find good pizza in this town, and I’ve heard this is the place to get it.”  He said, “yeah, I used to be you.”  After ranting to my Cali-native friends for the whole semester, I finally got them two pies from Emilia’s.  Only then did they understand what I meant.

    I haven’t been to any of the other places listed here, so I can’t speak to any of them.  I hear Zachary’s is good if you want deep dish, but that is, again, a very specific thing.

    Point being, if you want a delicious riff on pizza, go to cheeseboard.  If you want delicious pizza, go to Emilia’s.

  58. Cheeseboard Pizza by far is the best pizza in Berkeley. Freshest of toppings, best crunchy slightly smokey crust…..and each pie truly loved by the coop folk, great price for a really good glass of wine and totally kid friendly.  PLUS… the smooth stylings of Randy Moore on Saturday night. Doesn’t get better than this in Berkeley style all the way. Also like Zachary’s, but that is a whole weekend of meals in a pizza.

  59. Gioia is the best cali-ny pizza
    Arinelli for that real NY slice
    Only one mention ( and barely in Emeryville ), but Rotten City is like the marriage of Gioia andn Arinelli’s! thin crust, chewy, and cal-ish flavors. Open late, good beer and they deliver!
    R.I.P. Pie in the Sky on Center. St. the Sky pie was awesome!

  60. Best pizza is the one The Phoenix Pastificio makes. Their amazing mouth-watering olive bread serves as the crust and the toppings are interesting and delicious, like spinach, feta, sliced tomatoes and lemon zest or chicken, serrano chili and bell peppers. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Best to call ahead, though, because they sell out quickly. Only to-go.

  61. Also, for Berkeley old timers, for many years the head pizza maker at Arinell’s was really authentic, very East Coast intense guy, direct from Brooklyn – a real pizza craftsman and perfectionist.  You could watch him work the dough and expertly assemble each supersized pie with absolute concentration.  He would oversee the tattooed skateboard guys who worked the ovens who gave off a more California vibe.  If I recall correctly, I think his name was Tony.
    Also, for a number of years, Arinell’s cramped hole in the wall space shared a side entrance with a sleazy massage parlor that operated  called something like California Golden Girls.  When the masseuses popped in to flirt with the pizza guys or grab a slice or just were walking out in their “outfits”, there were many humorous interactions…

  62. Fellini’s for vegan pizza… better than Lansplitters. Thin crispy crust, good vegan toppings.

  63. I love Addies – we eat there almost once a week. Their crust is especially delicious (as is the chopped salad, and housemade custard ice cream). 
    However, if Gather were on the list, it would be a close call for my favorite go-to pizza.Other faves: Zachary’s is perfect when I’m feeling deep dish, Lanesplitter when I’m too tired to leave the house and want good delivery. Jupiter pizza is just okay as pizza, but the atmo is great for groups and the beer is amazing. Arinell’s is great for being close to campus and cheap, but I’d choose elsewhere for dine-in. 

    I want to try Emilias, but I find the “call ahead an hour before we open or we’ll run out” kind of obnoxious. I’ve tried to call in (at 4, then 4:05, then 4:10, and so on…). After all that work, still haven’t gotten through to order a pizza. 

  64. This is great fun – I’d love to see this kind of topic on a regular basis.  

    Ya think people might have have strong feelings about coffee (ground/unground), cafes, baristas (I vote for Angel at the French Hotel), Mexican, bagels, Thai, Indian  ….. 

  65. If by authentic you mean “most like New York City Pizza”, I completely agree with you about Arinell’s.  I really like it.  Arinell also has the “most like NYC pizza joint” feeling.

    And a fun neon sign!

    Couldn’t find my photo of the neon, but found this one of the old storefront … VERY Manhattan.

    This blog headline was “Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley?  You tell us” … and as another Tri-state native (also from the mainland of The Bronx) … my answer is Gioia.  


  66. yup Cheeseboard rocks, BUT not all of the time. sometimes it’s kinda bland.

    also RIP pie in the sky-thin NY/NE style crust; specials which were fun and son of sky w/eggplant and feta. We miss youu, Pie in the Sky!

  67. DEEP DISH PIZZA IS AN ABOMINATION! whoops, sorry, but it’s terrible-soft and oooozy. ewwwww.

    Pizza Gioia!

  68. The pizzetta at Chez Panisse Cafe.  If only they would create a little pizzetta take out stand, on the front patio.

  69. Gioia.  Because 1. they have the best anchovies slice.  2. they’re down the street from me… 🙂 I know… I live dangerously.

  70. I still enjoy North Beach Pizza, and I’ve had a decent pie from Rotten City Pizza – both of which are totally neglected in the article. Zach’s is OK, but it’s more of a lasagna than a pizza with how thick it is.

  71. We like Jupiter on Shattuck too.  Otherwise, Zacharies on Solano or North Beach on University.  

  72. Gioia fave. Fave fave fave. A New Yorker for 25 years (with residential time in on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn and Bleecker Street in Manhattan), I finally found at Gioia’s what I’d been missing for almost ten years in California…. Just can’t be beat if you like that thin crust NY pizza…. Cheeseboard is a second fave for weekly eats (totally different–never thought I’d like a pizza without sauce!) and then Pizzaiola in Oakland for when we feel like splurging. Oh, and the pizza appetizers at Chez’s are just divine…

  73. Zachary’s stuffed/deep dish pizzas are unrivaled; the tomato sauce alone is amazing.  (Plus, you can buy the sauce a la carte and make your own at home with a Z-taste.)  

    When the season turns and Gioia makes their asparagus pizza, I do a little happy pizza dance.

  74. We do indeed, Truelois. And a valid point, for sure. But Berkeleyside is all about keeping coverage within the city limits.

  75. Thanks, Sean, for another North side addition to the mix, details here:

    Did we mention the list in the post wasn’t the last word on pizza places around town? Running tally of about 20 joints mentioned so far. And no doubt more to come from loyal patrons.

  76. How could I forget a spot within walking distance of my house that allows, make that, expects folks to hang out and watch the ball games, sometimes for hours? For that alone Bobby G’s may well get my son’s vote. Thanks for the add, Pablito:

  77. Have to go with Emilia’s – Gioia is closer to me as I am literally on the other side of town from Emilia’s but Emilia’s is worth the drive.

  78. I’m with the folks who brought up Bobby G’s! Tastey good with genuine thin crust (NY native myself. Bready pizza drives me up a wall.) and some unique topping options. Not only that, but the place is clean, on good nights the crowd is mature and the atmosphere is relaxed with a great tap selection.
    Oh right and they’re open til 11!
    When I first moved out here (Before Bobby G’s) I could not, for the life of me, find a decent pizzeria that was open past 10pm on the weekend.
    What is wrong with people?!

  79. Bobby G’s is a fun choice for families with kids.  Quick service by kindly staff.  Order by the slice and everyone gets what s/he wants.  Large and inexpensive glasses of wine.  Final selling point:  the little guy loves to repeat, “Bobby GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’s!” And yes, Pliny the Elder is on tap, but he’s looking way too moldy for me to take a taste of him….

  80. Me, I prefer Gioia. With Emilia’s a close second.
    But I have to give a shout out to my neighborhood savior, West Coast Pizza, for kid-friendliness.
    Not only does their sauce please kids’ palates, their daily specials have made birthday parties and summer evening gatherings of all the neighborhood families affordable.

  81. For just your basic slice of pizza, I’ve got to go with Gioia Pizza. If I’m driving by, I stop for a slice even after leaving another pizza restaurant. 
    I’m also partial to the Vesuvio at Lo Coco’s. I also wouldn’t turn down their L’indecisa

  82. For just your basic slice of pizza, I’ve got to go with Gioia Pizza. If I’m driving by, I stop for a slice even after leaving another pizza restaurant. 
    I’m also partial to the Vesuvio at Lo Coco’s. I also wouldn’t turn down their L’indecisa

  83. I guess where I differ in opinion is in believing there to be “so many special pizza joints” in Berkeley. Don’t get me wrong, Emilia’s is special, and Cheesboard, although not the best pizza imho, provides a special experience. Yet, outside of those two, no other pizza place in town stands out as special to me. I will say though, that only a select few, and perhaps “special” restaurants, will serveyou a pitcher of Pliny the Elder (which, although is certainly over-hyped beer, is still a great beer, and one that is rarely found on tap).

  84. Coming from a strictly vegan perspective (blasphemy, I know), my favorites are:

    1) Gather – their vegan pizza is always delicious.  Very unique crust, on the edges.  I like that it’s seasonal and changes regularly

    2) Bobby G’s – one of the very few places where you can get vegan pizza by the slice (as opposed to having to order a whole pie) in Berkeley, so that scores it major points in my book.  Plus it’s tasty and reasonably priced.

    Honorable mention to Lanesplitter, although I usually order a vegan calzone from them, and they do deliver which is nice.  However, the quality can be pretty hit or miss.

  85. Hi Tizzielish …. alas, you can’t see the grin on my face. For context, remember that one of the things some New Yorkers learned is that “if you can’t say something nice, say it”

    Or something like that. 

    Lots of people really like Zachary’s Pizza (both thin and deep dish).

    Lots of people (though unlikely to be the same people) vote for Republicans.

    I just don’t understand why.

  86. I have never been to Bobby G’s. I walk past it almost daily. It just doesn’t beckon me.  A quick google when I first moved to town made it clear that Bobby G’s pizza is not special and with so many special pizza joints, why bother? That’s why no one has mentioned it, I bet.

  87. serkes, since you can’t hear my tone when you read this comment, I ask you to try to hear my lighthearted good nature when I challenge what you say about Chicago deep dish.  You say that using the words Chicago and Deep Dish and Pizza together is a travesty of a sham and yet to quite a lot of people, the food category represented by those words is a beloved tradition.  I don’t have to call the thick, deep, doughy things typically sold as Chicago Deep Dish Pizza by that name but it is a beloved food to me and, I think, millions, so how can it be a travesty of a sham?  😉  

    I don’t happen to think Zachary’s deep dish is as good as my idea of chicago deep dish. I settle. I lived in CA for several years before I found anyplace that served it and, until I heard about Little Star today, I thought it was the only deep dish game in town.  I don’t claim to have conducted extensive research, of course. 

    You knows, serkes, that many millions of perfectly good humans hail form Chi-town and many of them love their deep dish. And you know, right, that deep dish is very significantly different from thick crust?

    Why can’t folks like what they like?  semantics don’t matter except to convey shared understanding.

    I don’t particularly like New York style pizza and I could, cheerfully, say that “New York style pizza” is a travesty of a sham. Who awarded New Yorkers the right to set the ultimate standard for what pizza is?

    And what the heck is pizza anyway? Most vaguely credit Italy but I have been told by actual Italians that what passes for pizza in this country is often unrecognizable to ‘real’ Italians. And then, within the category of ‘real’ Italians, you would also hear a wide range of opinions and definitions of pizza, eh?

    It’s fun to share differences. Thanks, Sarah, for today’s discussion.  What I like most about this discussion is that everyone is right. It’s just pizza, something elemental and, potentially, mundane or exquisite and no right or wrong. Just humans having fun.

  88. Happy to see Emilia’s on the list. Almost in Oakland, but being a few blocks north of the line does indeed make it a Berkeley spot. One man, one oven, a limited choice of toppings and no slices is how Emilia’s works. Never had a bad pie from this guy. Always top notch. The only difficulty is he books the whole night in advance so reserving your pizza ahead of time is crucial if you want to be guaranteed a pie.

  89. Goia, but I haven’t been to the newer pizza places. While Cheeseboard is amazing, it ain’t pizza. It’s Cheeseboard. Call it like it is.

  90. Gioia for thin crust and Little Star for deep dish. Yeah, Little Star is in Albany, but practically speaking Berkeley residents do occasionally boldly venture outside the city limits to eat, see music, shop etc.

  91. 1. Lanesplitter
    2. Cheeseboard
    3. Gioia

    But I’ll admit that, for many years, I would always go with West Coast if I wanted a pizza delivered. I don’t know what they put in their ranch dressing but it’s highly addictive, as are the cheesy sticks.

  92. I’m a Gioia fan, it just tastes good, love the fungi pizza there.  Also a fan of Zachary’s, both their “thin” crust and deep dish, they have great sauce.  Though I like Cheeseboard, and find it very tasty, to me it’s not actually “pizza” more flat bread with cheese and toppings, but good.

  93. Hmmmm …was this poll designed by the same folks to put together the Telegraph Avenue Survey where 119% of the respondents said that they were put off by people who hassled them while walking down the street?

  94. Well said! The simple anchovy pizza may be the best pizza I’ve ever had, though it has to be eaten fresh.

  95. Hands down Gioia. Arinell’s is good, but lost something in the translation when they moved storefronts a few years ago. For the simple style of pie that I used to favor Arinell’s for, I now go to Lanesplitter. Yummy, especially if you ask for the crust extra crispy.

  96. Hands down, Gioia pizza. Their crust is thin yet holds its own against the sauce. Their toppings aren’t a ridiculous pile of ingredients (I’m looking at you, Lanesplitter, much as I love your “garbage” pie!). They are well put together, compared to the Cheeseboard, who have less-than-inspired topping combinations. Gioia also has meat which the Cheeseboard doesn’t have, and they are much better salted (I admit I am something of a salt fiend). Gioia’s tomato sauce is also excellent, and never slathered on too thickly. In other words, Gioia’s pizzas have real artistry in their flavors. Though sometimes simple, they are all carefully crafted pies. And the toppings can be unique without being too off-the-wall, such as the one that comes with gremolata. 

  97. Hands down, Gioia pizza. Their crust is thin yet holds its own against the sauce. Their toppings aren’t a ridiculous pile of ingredients (I’m looking at you, Lanesplitter, much as I love your “garbage” pie!). They are well put together, compared to the Cheeseboard, who have less-than-inspired topping combinations. Gioia also has meat which the Cheeseboard doesn’t have, and they are much better salted (I admit I am something of a salt fiend). Gioia’s tomato sauce is also excellent, and never slathered on too thickly. In other words, Gioia’s pizzas have real artistry in their flavors. Though sometimes simple, they are all carefully crafted pies. And the toppings can be unique without being too off-the-wall, such as the one that comes with gremolata. 

  98. I’m surprised that fifty comments in no one (the author of the article included) has mentioned Bobby G’s.

    Although I wouldn’t rank it as my favorite pizza place in Berkeley (Emilia’s probably wins), it’s still better than more than half of the pizza joints listed in the article.

    Not to mention they use locally sourced ingredients, have tons of vegan options, and have Pliny the Elder on tap.

  99. Ah … Easy … for the ones I know.

    Gioia – Best Pizza – utterly delicious — I’d rather have Goia Pizza than cake, pie, or pastry!
    Arinell  – Most like New York Pizza
    Cheese Board – Excellent Pizza
    LoCoco’s – Great Pizza
    Zachary’s – Perfectly OK Pizza when you don’t have time to go elsewhere (with honorable mention for “Best Decorations by Artistic Patrons”

    And in the Pantheon of Pizza, Zachary’s would be relegated to opening and closing the doors and wiping down the marble floors from rain which gets in from that darn hole in the roof (The Pantheon would NEVER pass a home inspection!  

    Zachary’s is perfectly OK, and I do eat if from time to time (was on Solano about 30 minutes ago so almost had a slice)

    I think it should be illegal to use the words Chicago and Pizza in the same sentence (except in a snarky review). The concept of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is a travesty of a mockery of a sham to the word Pizza.

    These are based on the ones I know.  I’ve been to several of the other places once but the pizza was so awful I never went back to see if that was one time thing or not.

    Ira from The Bronx, during an era when 15¢ bought a slice from Venice Pizzeria on Lydig Avenue & White Plains (or a brass subway token) 

  100. Emilia’s, by far.  Aside from swoon-worthy pizza, the owner/pizza maker/one-man-show knows his regulars by voice when they call, and the pizza boxes are crayon-decorated by his daughter.  It’s always good to be reminded that the best businesses are lovingly run by real human beings with real values.  When pestered
    to hire more people and expand, he patiently explains that he doesn’t want to be a boss, he wants to make good pizza.  He clearly values his craft, and you can taste it.  Hopefully he’s teaching Emilia the trade.

  101. So glad to learn that “Bruce Love” and I see eye to eye on at least one important question.  I definitely vote for Arinell’s as well as tops in this town.
    p.s.  If you have a little baking skill, some extra time and the requisite oven and equipment, try making your own from scratch some time (including the dough), especially homemade, classic, Chicago style deep dish pizza.  Zachary’s won’t taste quite the same afterwards….

  102. Paisan was pretty good, but for the best, it is worth crossing the border into Oakland — Pizzaiolo is the bestI have tasted in the East Bay.  Zachary’s is pretty great for what they do, but nothing really to compare it too — a different kind of meal.

  103. I vote for Gioia on Hopkins and my teenager votes for Arinells. A close second and third are the duck sausage pizza at Gather and Lanesplitter on San Pablo (so good if you eat it there at a table). Arinells is the most authentic NY slice place though complete with the shakers of garlic powder and parmesan cheese. We are so lucky to have so many great pizza options here in Berkeley. And as for SF, Delfina Pizza rocks.

  104. Another vote for Jupiter.  Delicious pizza with quality ingredients, and very tasty beer (though sadly they seem to run out of the more popular brews way too often).  Two people can get two rounds, a salad, and pizza with leftovers for like $40 after tip, not too shabby!

  105. Wow.  No votes for Arinel.  well, there is one now.  The reason: it tastes the best.  I think that I would rather not know why.

  106. Completely disagree. Since Little Star opened we’ve not been to Zacharys, and in fact we’ve been to Little Star more than we ever went to Zacharys. The crust at Little Star is better with a pleasing corn crunch and olive oil flavor and the combinations are more interesting. Oddly, even the cheese tastes better. Last week I had a bite of our kids plain Jane cheese pizza and it was far better than plain.

    Since it is on Solano which is shared with Berkeley the GPS in my brain considers Little Star part of my Berkeley community.

  107. this is very tough….my vote is for the Cheeseboard, but just to keep things fair I’m going to walk to Blondie’s or Fat Slice for lunch today

  108. absolutely!  I think their pizza is the best, but only if you like ultra-thin crust (which I love).

  109. Cheeseboard is my favorite thin crust: Simple, delicious, seasonal and affordable.
    Zachary’s hits the spot but Gather’s vegan Spicy tomato pizza is amazing!

  110. 1. Gioia
    2. Cheeseboard,but only for certain pizzas. Any of their bland ones (ie not containing feta or lemon zest or lime) are worthless.

  111. Wow, hard choice. Probably…

    #1 Gioia
    #1.5 Cheeseboard, depending on the day
    #2 Gather, though I’m still getting to know it

    I know it is technically not in Berkeley (these towns all run together don’t they) but Little Star is killer pizza. Great crust! Much better pizza than Zacharys. And great ambiance, friendly staff and great wine and beer.

  112. Candygram for Ms. Tizzielish.

    (Obviously this joke would be better coming from frequent commenter what’s-his-name.)

  113. That may be true at some of the DIY locations you frequent.  I have begun to lose patience with the staff and management at my local DIY location.  From Michael Bauer’s most recent review: “On a typical night, an order for pizza is sent to the kitchen by the unruly 7 and 10 year old patrons.  Meanwhile, the dishes from the lunch rush are still in the sink.  The harried staff rushed back and forth from the dining room to the kitchen, spilling her beer en route.  A space for this reviewer was cleared at table by pushing aside the Chronicle pink section and several crash-tested paper airplanes, revealing a number of sticky table stains, which were ignored.  After a prolonged delay, during which we were offered no drinks, a pizza was pulled, flaming, from the oven and flung upon the table.  Evidently they had forgotten to take it out of the box.” For the life of me I can’t understand why I keep going back.

  114. 1.Emilia’s – best proportioned ingredients – more like an Italian pizza
    2. Cheeseboard – great flavor but too greasy and cheesy (not that I don’t like it but I prefer traditional Italian style); after a few slices from cheeseboard I get a stomach ache from all the fat.
    3. Paisan – great flavors, great crust

    –Gioia: we tried it several times and were never excited

    and the rest are just truly average.

  115. Not on Berkeley, but they deliver to parts of Berkeley and the pizza is better than La Val’s:  Pizza Rustica on College Av in Rockridge.

  116. I cannot see myself ever going to a $7.99 all you can eat pizza buffet, which is what Pepe’s is but I can easily imagine teens and young adults, maybe a little high due to liquids imbibed or smoke inhaled, and a little pressed for cash happily devouring lots of cheap carbs at Pepe’s.  I understand that there are different markets out there.

    Pepe’s must have pretty good business skills behind it because Pepe’s got a lot of attention as soon as it opened. And, gosh golly, they have billboards on AC Transit shelters bragging about their one-low-price buffet.

    But whenever I see those billboards or note that another ‘restaurant critic’ has given Pepe’s some ink, I think of the old Saturday Night Live skits with Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin playing the parents of an alien family.  The alien family, The Coneheads, when asked about where they were from cause they were so strange (with coneheads and all) would say “We are from France” and when stressed, they would consume mass quantities of food and beer. They seemed to think, as aliens, that consuming mass quantities of bad cheap food was an earthling trait that they thought was a good thing.

    So if you are looking to consume mass quantities of cheap, tasty-but-not-really-good-for-you food cause you are stoned, Pepe’s.

    Guess I am dating myself. The Coneheads skits were introduced when I was an undergrad.

  117. This is NOT a good thing to read while hungry 🙂

    1. Cheese Board – fairly priced, great atmosphere, part of overall Berkeley experience!
    2. Zachary’s – delicious wonderful pizza, but a little out of my price range
    3. Lanesplitter – comfort pizza with a good vibe

  118. Lance: They’re in the mix, in the story. Folks are free to vote for any place they like, as I mention in the post. And as I’ve already said in the comment thread: This list was simply a conversation starter. And, ah, clearly that worked.

  119. Sorry to br predictable but the best pizza in town is certainly Zachary’s or The Cheese Board. The two styles are too different to pick a best between them, but together they certainly represent the best in a fantasic field of Berkeley pizza joints.

  120. Hang on a sec. I know you write that you’re listing pizzerias, Sarah, but how can you leave Summer Kitchen off the list? I know they serve plenty of other things, but their pizzas are superb. Right up there with Emilia’s, which I also like tremendously. 

  121. BC:

    Leaving La Val’s — which has been in the pizza biz in Berkeley for some 50 years — off this list was an oversight. Thanks for including them here. Your point about delivery is well taken too.

    La Val’s is located at 1834 Euclid, just north of campus. More details here:

  122. Gather’s pizza is my favorite because of its crust. Plus they have super creative toppings that change frequently.

  123. Gioia! The name may strand me in a sea of vowels every time I try to spell it, but damn do they know how do make a pizza. Every day-after-Thanksgiving, we throw a pizza party for about 30 people. We always get Zachary’s, Cheeseboard (we get lightbakes before the holiday since its closed on the day after), and Gioia, and Gioia is always (four years running) the first to go! 

  124. Lanesplitter for sure. Best option for vegan pizza that I don’t have to make at home. The BEST pizza though is homemade.

  125. Mike: No weeping necessary (yet). This list was simply a way of getting this pizza party started. Time will tell which pies readers think deserve Top Ten status.

  126. Not only that but they are so consistent, year over year, in spite of  inevitable staff churn.  It’s one of the most “crafty” pizzas in town, by far, but not in ways conventionally noticed around here.

  127. can I second this review? this is exactly what I was going to say (except she said it better!). 🙂

  128. oh and the fact that Pepe’s and Fat Slice and Blondie’s is on here makes me wanna cry…..

  129. Tracey, I wasn’t complaining. I tend to blurt out my thoughts in writing the way most folks blurt out thoughts when speaking aloud. A surveymonkey tool would have been boring, altho you can also allow comments using that tool.

  130. I will take it upon myself to represent the Tri-state area (specifically New Jersey) and say that Arinell’s is the best hands down genuine pizza we got out here.  You can argue….but you are wrong.  Sorry….it’s a Jersey thing.

  131. Tizzielish: If we had set this up as a Survey Monkey survey or quick and dirty poll, everyone would have missed the pleasure of reading the qualifying comments such as yours

  132. There should maybe be room on a top-10 list for:

    13) DIY 

    Quality and daily availability varies greatly between DIY spots but they make up for this by having more than 40,000 locations in Berkeley alone!

    At my most frequented DIY location, they win by giving customers complete control over ingredient selection, no corkage fee, styles to order (Chicago, NY, Neapolitan, a nice calzone, a traditional CA), prices that are hard to beat, an open and sociable kitchen, and a fantastic aroma while the pies bake.  

    Most DIY locations – when they are open at all – use simple stones (or even cookie sheets) in conventional gas or electric ovens.  As a consequence, oven temperatures are too low to perfect some styles such as the 90 second Neapolitan with timelessly perfect blistering and charring.   A few locations do have, however, wood fired ovens easily capable of the 700-950 degree range.  For most, those exceptional spots are “invitation only” and reservations are not otherwise accepted (as is true for pretty much all DIY locations).

    Regardless of the quirks and variable quality, DIY spots all across town offer some of the finest pizza in Berkeley at amazing prices, in nice settings with a nice homey ambiance.

  133. I love the atmosphere and friendly staff of Addie’s (LOVE the spring pizza with asparagus), but for pizza lone, Emilia’s totally wins. I finally had it last week and was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but it totally did. I like the idea of doing one thing, with limited options (there are only a few toppings), and doing it well. I will definitely be a regular customer there, but when I want to eat in a restaurant, Addie’s for sure.

  134. Gosh, I thought berkeleyside would have set up a survey on a tool like surveymonkey . . . . 

    I have not tried all the pizza joints listed.  I am disappointed that you included Extreme Pizza, since it is a national chain.  I will never eat a piece of chain pizza again. There are just too many locallly-based ones. Chains siphon money out of the local economy, going to corporate profit:  unsustainable.  

    I have not eaten at Addie’s, Emilia’s or Paisan cause they are new. When I first moved to  Berkeley, I made a serious effort to check all the local pizza out so I could settle in on my favorites. This survey reminds me that I have to step up, embrace change so I will, eventually,try these places. Right now, however, I am all about the Chicago Deep Dish at Zachary’s:  the spinach mushroom deep dish is perfect food, imho. As a Chicago native, raised, practically, on Giordano’s, who sorta kinda established the deep dish standard, and then twenty years in Minneapolis inhaling Green Mill pizza — in Minneapolis-St. Paul the local food surveys eventually gave Green Mill deep dish a lifetime achievement award and stopped putting them in surveys to give other pizza purveyors a chance to win.  Deep dish, deep dish, deep dish is my cry, if I can’t have some, I just might die.

    Cheeseboard is always awesome but not my favorite. What to base my ranking on? I like Cheeseboard for factors that aren’t limited to their yummy pizza. I like the crowds, the music, the vibe, the only-one-choice.

    Gioia:  perfection but I hardly ever am near there. I used to swim laps at King pool and then walk over for a slice of their mushroom. And I love their pizza but I never go there anymore.

    I love the pizza at Gather. Gather, of course, is not, per se, a pizza joint but if I am not blinded by my deep dish lust and I want to sit with friends in a pleasant atmosphere and also love the fire-blistered pizza, Gather hits my pizza spot.

    Arinell’s, Blondie’s, Fat Slice, and Lanesplitter are just there. Nothing special, if you ask me, but always adequate.

    So, my vote:  for deep dish, Zachary’s, for thin pizza, Gather.

  135. Addies on Adeline is the very best Pizza in Berkeley and the atmosphere is fantastic. Their crust is the best I’ve tasted, probably because they operate a bakery as well. Friendly staff and amazing pizza in a gorgeous, spacious historic dining hall. Thursday evenings there’s live music. Don’t miss it!

  136. It’s easy to find great pizza in Berkeley if you don’t want delivery:  Gioia, Cheese Board, Emilia’s, Addie’s.  But the more important question in my mind is what is the best home delivery pizza?  Currently, we stick to LaVal’s as I’ve found it to be the best of the delivered.  We have also gone with (in order from best to worst): 

    1. La Vals (most consistent though often takes too long to receive)
    2. Lanesplitters (pretty good, though at times inconsistent, especially thin on cheese at times and usually not hot at delivery)
    3. North Beach Pizza (pretty good though I tire of their sauce which seems to have anise seed or something in it)
    4. West Coast Pizza (meh)
    5. Round Table (double meh)

  137. There is really no question as to what is the best New York style pizza in Berkeley:

    Giola Pizza on Hopkins Street!

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