Two writers for the pizza exposing blog known as Slice: one New York-based, the other from LA; seek to answer a seemingly simple question: “Where’s some good pizza in Northern California?” Before diving into this controversial pool of melted cheese and marinara, they acknowledge the pizza scene is blowing up here right now, and it's really a stupidly insane task to take all this on. Here, a summary of what the out-of-towners had to say about our local pizza landscape. This should provide fodder for hours of steamy, saucy debate.
1) Ed Levine a.k.a. New York kicks things off with a “slice of California pizza history” at Tommaso’s, whose predecessor, Lupo’s was the first pizzeria in CA. The crust is "gummy" and the sausage from Molinari's is "bland."
2) Onwards and upwards to a Chicago pizza double team at Zachary’s and Little Star. New York likes Little Star’s crust more: “it’s buttery, crisp and rich.”
3) Of course, New York includes three New-York style spots: Arinell, Gioia, and Pizza My Heart: “You can’t write about pizza in Northern California without writing about Pizza My Heart.” Humph. We’ve actually seen some scribes pull this off.
4) Berkeley’s Emilia’s is “not trying to knock you out with claims of Naples-based authenticity?instead, the delicious down-to-earth pizza speaks for itself amid a tiny store that's more suited for take-out.” And they won’t tell where the cheese is from.
5) New York then goes right ahead and tells you what he thinks of LA's picks before he gets the chance to list them. At Charlie Hallowell’s Pizzaiolo, “The cheese he uses on the Margherita is easily the best cheese I've ever had on a Margherita pizza.” This is followed by a shout to Boot and Shoe Service with the caveat that he’s taking Bauer’s word on this one.
6) Forward to Pizzeria Delifina where “The place benefits from the whole California 'ingredient-driven' menu.” Yeah, we’ve heard of it.
7) Bruce Hill’s Picco in Larksupr gets some great ink as “my absolute favorite of the wood-fired-oven places in the area.”
8) Finally A16: “It’s not going to blow you away? one little thing that I LOVE about A16 and that is the HOT CHILE OIL. It's served in little jars on the tables, and it elevates any pizza it's drizzled on.”
9) LA elbows his way into the list, and pipes up with Tony’s Pizza Napoletana of North Beach "which tied in a photo finish for the region's best."
10) Howie’s Artisan Pizza in the Town and Country mall in Palo Alto impresses LA because, shocker alert: Howie is actually on site, working on a sourdough starter. But “Frankly, I can't pinpoint what was lacking...somehow I wasn't overwhelmed.”
11) On to Gialina’s pizzas “burst[ing] with flavors and imagination.”
12) Next, LA expands and expounds on the Bay Area pizza choices New York already spoiled for him, but then there's this glipse of what excites on the pizza horizon: Bruce Hill’s Zero Zero, and Anthony Mangieri’s Una Pizza Napoletana.
And that’s it. Several sort of blatant omissions here. We'll let you jump in and name them. And some strange add-ons we’re not used to hearing too much about. Please do let your thoughts and feelings run free in the comments section. [Slice]
Piccino pizza. [Photo: Wayne Garcia]