Well, people certainly have big feelings about pizza, something that became clear after my mother-son foray into the affordable and teen-friendly pizza world. I received suggestions, critiques, and tortured calls of “where’s Gioia?”
I guess I like controversy, because I decided to weigh in again, this time with a roundup of gluten-free pizza offerings. This time I struck out on my own (though I asked my son, Errol to sample and give his brief opinions), and I stuck to pizza joints located in the city of Berkeley. Keep in mind that this is not a definitive list, rather a sampling of what’s out there for those pizza lovers who need to avoid gluten. (And, no, Gioia still isn’t included. While their pizza is delicious, they don’t have a GF option.)
2016 Shattuck Ave., at University Avenue
Price: $22.50 for a gluten-free pizza Margherita
We got a gluten free Margherita pizza to go from this sweet Neapolitan joint in downtown Berkeley. Pizza is just one of the options here, as Lucia’s is a full-range restaurant with pasta, salads and cicchetti (Italian appetizers), too.
At $16.50-$24 (plus $4.50 for gluten-free dough), Lucia’s 12″ pizzas are a bit spendy, but the GF crust was one of the best I tried. It’s a little bit fluffy, with really nice mouth feel, and the toppings were fresh and high quality.
Lucia’s has lots of vegan options here for Italian food lovers who abstain from cheese. Errol said the dough was “soft,” which he said was a good thing.
Red Tomato Pizza House
2017 University Ave., at Milvia Street
This University Avenue spot has an old-fashioned, Laverne-and-Shirley pizzeria atmosphere, complete with a black-and-white checkered floor. Red Tomato’s gluten-free pizza has a good crust — slightly less chewy than non-GF, but with a nice al dente kick. Red Tomato also offers GF pies in multiple sizes, from 10” to 14”. Be prepared to pay $6 extra per pie for GF.
Red Tomato not only has gluten free pizzas, but also has vegan pizza options, including unusual offerings such as BBQ tofu, garlicky hummus and Thai curry eggplant alongside more traditional toppings like pesto and sliced tomatoes. But if you’re all in for gluten and dairy and animal products, but not up for pizza, check out their bacon mac ‘n cheese.
Zachary’s Chicago Pizza
1853 Solano Ave., between Fresno and Colusa avenues
Price: $22 ($17.50 for plain cheese)
Zachary’s stuffed pizzas are an East Bay staple. But their thin crust is tasty, too, and if you are looking for gluten-free, that’s your option at this family-favorite joint.
We ordered a small (the only size available for GF) with mushrooms and black olives to go. Their gluten-free dough is thinner and more crisp than non-GF, which is the norm, but it didn’t have as nice of a mouth feel as the others on this list. However, the overall taste of the pizza was stellar.
La Val’s Pizza
1834 Euclid Ave., between Hearst Avenue and Ridge Road
I was a little surprised that Northside student favorite La Val’s — which also serves subs, calzones and salads — ended up serving my favorite GF pizza of the lot.
The cavernous restaurant was practically empty (and cold!) when I stopped by to pick up a to go order in early February. But our gluten free Margherita pizza was sublime and the crust was the tastiest and had the best mouth feel of the bunch — it was a little thicker than other crusts and had a really nice texture. Errol’s verdict: “Man, this is really good.” It was also the least expensive of the pizzas on this list.
Bobby G’s Pizzeria
Bobby G’s Pizzeria
2072 University Ave., between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street
Price: $29.92 ($26.80 for Margherita GF)
We ate in at Bobby G’s full-service restaurant on University, where the service was friendly and quick and we got to watch a variety of sports on the many TVs dotting the walls. We got both a gluten-free triple mushroom pie (at a reader’s suggestion) and a non-gluten free cheese pizza. Both were tasty.
Bobby G’s uses crusts made by Oakland-based gluten-free bakery Mariposa Bakery for its gluten-free pie. Errol felt that the GF crust at Bobby G’s was thicker than some of the others we tasted, and said that was a good thing. I agreed that it did have a nice al dente feel. You can expect to pay an additional $6 for a 12-inch pizza made gluten-free, which makes a modest-size pie a little spendy, but it’s still good enough at Bobby G’s that we’ll be back.
Other gluten-free pizza options in Berkeley
- Jupiter (2181 Shattuck Ave.) offers a 10″ pizza with a gluten-free crust for an additonal $5
- Cheese Board Collective (1512 Shattuck Ave.) offers what it called “gluten-free friendly” pizzas for $26, a price increase of $2 over their traditional pies, from a rotating daily menu
Pass on any more GF pizza tips in the comments!