my east bay 🍕 diary

“It depends.” - Ken Forkish

Nothing says America like the vaguely appropriated, mass-produced wheat and dairy staple that is grilled cheese… I mean pizza. Perhaps most famous in New York, this dish is relentlessly remixed by the people and places who celebrate it.

Pizza is a staple in my life. After my parents’ divorce, Friday nights became informal pizza-on-the-floor nights. Many college events I attended gave free slices just for showing up. It’s my favorite thing to cook at home; I’ve made pizza at least once a week since 2018.

Berkeley, CA, where I’ve lived most of my adult life, has at least fifteen pizza joints. Here are my notes on the craft.

The “East Bay” pizza

From my experience, there’s a culturally dominant pizza style:

Not every pizza is like this of course. But it’s popular enough that “SF ruined pizza” (see the clip on the left). Pixar knows, they’re in Emeryville.

The best examples of this are Cheese Board, Arizmendi’s, Nabolom, and Sliver. They are all worth a try. Cheese Board especially is worth the hype; I have so many good memories there.

Cheese Board and the Arizmendi shops are in an association of cooperatives, which is freakin cool.

Other favorites

Bobby G’s feels all-American in a counterculture town. Pizza, beer, and sports? You got it. There’s jazz some evenings. My fondest memory here is chowing down after a day of off-roading in Steven’s truck.

Zachary’s is a delight. Are you having a deep-dish fantasy? The pizza is hearty; it’s like if Uno’s used tomato instead of bread for the filling. The spinach-and-mushroom is consistently good. And you don’t need a fork, unless you want haters.

West Coast is nostalgic for me; they have (1) delivery and (2) Cal student discounts. West Coast is a cheese-beats-sauce kind of place, so obviously their cheesy sticks are my absolute favorite. Good specials. In 2020 they’re so close that I just walk over.

Arinell’s is real NY-style, complete with hardass service. I was impressed with their Sicilian pizza.

I’ve only been to Lanesplitter during the COVID-19 pandemic. My friend Michael lived and worked down the block; we’d eat it hot right on the sidewalk or at the nearby park. Big and cheesy slices.

Little Star has a delicious cornmeal crust on their deep-dish pizza. It is pricey.

Places I haven’t been

I haven’t tried The King’s Feet; vegan pizza makes me nervous.

Emilia’s has always intrigued me. Whenever I’ve gone in person, they’re always sold out!

Rotten City seems neat, right by Prizefighter and the Berkeley Aquatic park. I’ve stopped by on a full stomach; they have big slices (but not Jumbo Slice big).

Wishing you 🍕 joy in your future.