The best pizza in Berkeley? Our readers have decided

Pizza from the readers' choice of Berkeley's best pizza joint. Read on to find out where it is. All photos: Christina Diaz

Wow. Who knew Berkeley residents were so passionate about pizza? It’s right up there with free speech, free love, and free-range eggs — or so it seemed based on readers’ record responses to our request last week for their choice of the best pizza places in town.

Before we announce the winners of our, let’s face it, less-than scientific survey, a few caveats up front. Stunned by the sheer number of votes (over 220 comments including input on Facebook) we realized, after the fact, that we should have employed a poll counter. Next time. And, we’ll be sure to include a category for “other,” so you can weigh in with a pick not mentioned in the post.

Because it turned out, that despite writing in the story and later in the comment thread (several times) that the dozen pizza purveyors listed represented a sample of savory pies on offer here, many of our readers — including one rather irate pizzeria owner — read it as this site’s “best of” picks.

Privately, folks pointed out, too, that businesses left off that list may have been unfairly handicapped, a not unreasonable assumption, and it is duly noted.

So, we didn’t make it easy on you. And you didn’t make it easy on us. Some voted for more than one place. Some voted on Facebook or Twitter but not here. The crack accounting team at Berkeleyside opted to err on the side of generosity in tabulating results, including all favorable mentions in the count.

Many mentioned that a top pizza pick might vary depending on factors such as deep dish versus thin crust, East vs. West style, delivery, location, and omnivore/vegetarian/vegan options. Some argued that the pie produced at Cheese Board isn’t even pizza. (Where is the sauce? Potatoes and kale topping?) As one self-described pizza snob wrote: “While Cheeseboard is undeniably delicious, it’s not pizza.”

Pizzas being made at The Cheese Board Collective -- a perennial favorite among Berkeleyside readers

All that said, we’re reasonably confident that these variables wouldn’t dramatically alter the pecking order below. Readers are, of course, free to disagree, as many no doubt will, in the comment section below.

At the end of the day, people, we’re talking about pizza. A take-away lesson from this exercise may be that there are many places to order a slice in this town — and many differing opinions on what tastes good.

With that in mind, might I channel my pre-teen son here and suggest “getting outside your comfort zone.” If there’s a spot on this list you haven’t sampled that appeals (or one in the comment thread from last week, where places like Phoenix Pastificio, Fellini, Nino’s, La Val’s, Jupiter, Summer Kitchen, West Coast Pizza, PIQ, and even D.I.Y. received a nod or two), you might want to give a different joint a try. Just saying.

Editor’s Note: As promised, one of our readers who voted in last week’s poll wins a complimentary pizza at the restaurant of their choice. The winner, chosen at random, is reader JT (their favorite, by the way — Arinell). JT: get in touch with us at Berkeleyside and we’ll make the arrangements!

Top Ten Readers’ Picks for Pizza in Berkeley:

1. Gioia: This New York-style, thin-crust pizza was the clear #1, garnering nearly twice as many votes as the second place getter. High marks for seasonal specialties (think asparagus and ricotta in the spring and butternut squash and blue cheese in the fall.) Readers’ picks include garlic and arugula, anchovy, and pepperoni. Wrote one: “When Gioia makes their asparagus pizza, I do a little happy pizza dance.” 1586 Hopkins Street (at Monterey), 528-4692.

2. Cheese Board Pizzeria: Those who voted for the collective’s pie value its quality ingredients, simplicity (vegetarian, one option, no sauce), and affordability. The feel-good groove of this joint was evoked by one commenter who wrote: “Each pie is truly loved by the coop folk.” Readers recommend slices topped with corn, lime or lemon, and feta.  1512 Shattuck Avenue (at Vine), 549-3183. Correction: In addition to cash or check, Cheese Board now accepts Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.

3. Zachary’s: For some, there is no other to rival the “stuffed,” saucy pies from this pizzeria. Readers recommend the deep-dish spinach and mushroom; thin-slice and gluten-free crusts available too. 1835 Solano Avenue (at Colusa), 525-5950.

4. Emilia’s Pizzeria: One man, one oven, one pedantic order schedule. Still, some ex-East Coasters said that this is the only authentic made-to-order, mom-and-pop style pie in town.  2995 Shattuck (at Ashby). Cash only. Reservations, beginning at 4 p.m., highly recommended, 704-1794.

Young customers enjoy the pizza at Emilia's Pizzeria, which came in fourth in the reader rankings

5. Arinell Pizza: Fast, no frills slices at a hole-in-the-wall that, wrote one fan, offers “no silly toppings and no jazz bands.” Another contender for most authentic slice, if by most authentic you mean comes complete with garlic powder and parmesan cheese shakers.  2119 Shattuck (at Center), 841-4035. No cards.

6. Gather: The praise keeps piling on, from both customers and culinary critics, for this relatively new restaurant. In the pizza stakes, readers recommend the vegan spicy tomato (olives, capers, cashew garlic puree), farm egg with bacon, caramelized onions and herbs, or the duck sausage. 2200 Oxford Street (at Allston), 809-0400.

7. Bobby G’s Pizzeria: Loyal locals gave a shout out to this kid- and sport-fan friendly joint that boasts organic dough and marina sauce. It gets a thumbs up from the Chronicle, where it’s a regular on their annual Bargain Bites roundup. Readers’ picks include the goat cheese and mushroom or classic margherita. Vegan (even by the slice, which can be hard to come by) and gluten-free crust available. Open late with beer on tap and music too. 2072 University Avenue (at Shattuck), 665-8866.

8. Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub: This West Berkeley spot gets points from readers for home delivery, vegan options and pitchers of local microwbrews — as befits a pizzeria with “& Pub” in its name.  Try the basil, feta, sun-dried tomato, and artichoke heart combo. 2033 San Pablo Avenue (at Addison), 845-1652.

9. Addie’s Pizza Pie: Think New York-style crust with Cali-centric toppings, build-your-own (or not), gluten-free crust available. Kid-positive atmosphere in a restored, high-arched dining hall, with comfy red booths. Readers choice: Addie’s asparagus pie. 3290 Adeline Street (at Ashby), 547-1100.

10. Lo Coco’s Restaurant: Old-style Sicilian slices in this family-run and family-friendly establishment tucked away on the city’s North side. Gets the nod from Chronicle critics. Readers recommend L’Indecisa (proscuitto and arugula), Siciliana (anchovies), Vesuvio (pepperoni) and the eggplant, garlic, and artichoke heart special. 1400 Shattuck (at Rose), 843-3745.

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.

Related:
Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley? You tell us [06.03.11]
Out in Berkeley: Delectable blues with Cheese Board Pizza [4.21.11]
Gather chef Sean Baker named best of the year [10.11.10]
Addie’s pizza pie will open for business this week [09.13.10]
The lunchtime music scene at the Cheeseboard [09.04.10]
Berkeley Bites: Ari Derfel and Eric Fenster [03.26.10]
Numero due for pizza [01.25.10]

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  • Zeke Sweeney

    Gioia is fair. I’ve tried it several times and each time told myself never again, a dull dry tiny overpriced slice …. ugh…. I just don’t get why people think this “great” pizza??? I’m guessing people tell themselves it’s good because it’s ‘supposed to be’ organic. I LOVE organic, but not Gioia. Arinell’s if psuedo NY pizza (beleeme, I know dese dings). Gimme Cheeseboard, Zachary’s (veggie specials), Nino’s (Brazillian Vegetarian, yum!!!), and Rotten City (in that order)!

  • Zeke Sweeney

    Gioia is fair. I’ve tried it several times and each time told myself never again, a dull dry tiny overpriced slice …. ugh…. I just don’t get why people think this “great” pizza??? I’m guessing people tell themselves it’s good because it’s ‘supposed to be’ organic. I LOVE organic, but not Gioia. Arinell’s if psuedo NY pizza (beleeme, I know dese dings). Gimme Cheeseboard, Zachary’s (veggie specials), Nino’s (Brazillian Vegetarian, yum!!!), and Rotten City (in that order)!

  • Italian

    I believe Rotten City has white slices.

  • Italian

    I believe Rotten City has white slices.

  • Deadpizzaeater

    Nino’s Barzillian Vegetarian is to die for!

  • Emilie R

    My two faves are Gioia and Lo Coco’s — and I gotta give a shout out to Gather as well. YUM! Great feature.

  • Jesse Townley

    Next time there should be a “fill in the blank” option.

    I love West Coast Pizza on University (it used to be called Gumby’s). It’s not stuffed or super-fancy or overhyped, it’s just good, solid blue collar pizza that is affordable and delicious.

  • Ann Coulter

    thats  not  a  guy  thats  michelle obama  in drag 

  • Ann Coulter

    actually  at  the  cheese  board  you can  get  pizza  and  with a  bearded  pizza  chef , free dental floss 

  • Ann Coulter

    nice  to visit  these  restaraunts in bezerkeley but  the  crime  rate is  off  the  hook …………..pack heat  when u go to bezerkeley 

  • http://www.clickblogappetit.com/ Faith Kramer

    I like the concept that this is a “sample” not best of.  Thanks for putting in all the calories sampling.  I look forward to getting out of my delicious comfort zone and trying something new. 

  • Frank

    I beg to differ.  Emilia’s makes some of the best pizza not just in Berkeley but in the whole US.  

    You know who agrees with me?  The editor of Slice, the biggest blog solely focused on pizza.  He included Emilia’s in a list of “pizza that haunts his dreams”:
    http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/12/tytw-adam-kubans-top-8-pizzas-of-2009-slideshow.html#show-66210

  • deirdre

    For this type of friendly open discussion, I’d prefer the editors avoid using polls and stick with this lively back-and-forth in the Berkeleyside comment section.  I’d rather hear people argue in the comments about what makes a good pizza than what makes a good poll!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Deirdre,

    Good point, and we’ll take it on board as we plan future “best of” food stories. Currently toying with using a polling tool such as SurveyMonkey for the strictly number crunching part but also including a “narrative” post to go along with the poll as we want to provide some context to the survey and, of course, keep that lively back-and-forth in the comment section coming.

    Stay tuned.

  • Buster

    +1 Frank

  • Guest

    Was Albany annexed by Berkeley?

  • Guest

    Emilia’s has any topping you want
    http://emiliaspizzeria.com/
    How are places in Oakland “surprisingly absent” from a list about Berkeley pizza?

  • Alan Saldich

    Aptly self-named commenter, well done!

  • Glin777

    The best pizza in Berkeley is nested at the Strawberry Creek Center.  It’s called The Phoenix Pastificio.  They sell pizza with the best ingredients and the most creative combination: your choice.  They are not widely known, because they only sell the pizza Monday through Thursday from 4 pm to 7 pm.  Check it out, and you won’t be disappointed.  I’ve been having their pizza on a weekly base for a few years consistantly.  That tells how great they are.  :)

  • emraguso

    I miss Addie’s!

  • billybobjoe

    liar

  • Anthony

    :-O …but, but, the deep dish

  • EthnicAm

    My god, I’ve had better FROZEN MICROWAVED pizza than Bobby G’s! Pizza there is TERRIBLE. Good beers, though…