Build Pizzeria Roma
2286 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
Phone: (510) 898-1839
Downtown Berkeley is experiencing an upscale restaurant boom these days, and its latest high-profile spot, Build, (formerly known as A90), will open tonight. Like Comal and Gather before it, it's big, ambitious, and sleek, with David Shapiro and Lisa Holt of the DLS Hotels & Spas empire (which operates the Hotel Yountville) leading the charge. If it's successful, they're hoping to replicate it in other locations.
Chef Brian Langevin is a veteran of the Tony Gemignani empire, having last worked at the master pizzaiolo's Pizza Rock in Sacramento. He's using two imported Italian wood-fired ovens that get up to 1,000 degrees and can cook a pizza in three minutes. As the name promises, diners get to build their own thin-crust pies, starting with a tomato, bianco, or pesto base (also available in gluten-free versions) and adding toppings both prosaic (pepperoni, roasted mushrooms, roasted red onion) and lavish (prosciutto di Parma, Calabrese peppers, truffled pecorino). The base pizza is $8, and most toppings are an additional $1 apiece. View the full pizza menu here.
At the bar, the restaurant will also offer a selection of small plates from chef de cuisine Clara Yun (Aqua, The Dorchester), like bruschetta, truffle arancini, panini, and a burger. Firestone Walker and Speakeasy alum Brandon Borgel curated the 16-draft beer menu, while the wine program includes 12 NorCal draft wines (one of the area's largest selections) and an extensive Italian bottle list. On the cocktail side, the ever-prolific Scott Beattie has developed two menus: one spirituous, with drinks like the Fumo e Pelle (bourbon, vermouth, smoked black tea liqueur, bitters), and one refreshing, with takes on a Pimm's cup, paloma, and Moscow mule. See the full bar/cocktail/wine menu here.
The 120-seat space, designed by Holt and Abueg Morris Architects, is housed in the 1906 Morse Block building, whose designers were also responsible for the Claremont Hotel. It was completely gutted to open up the original steel support beams and brick walls, and the floor is made of reclaimed barn wood. There's glass and stainless steel aplenty, along with enormous black light fixtures and tufted black leather banquettes. Currently, the restaurant is only open for dinner from 5:30 to 10:30 pm nightly, but they're planning to be open straight through from 11:30 am to 2 am once things get underway (offering the area a rare late-night option that isn't targeted at the student crowd).
· Sneak peek: Build, Berkeley's ambitious new pizzeria [Berkeleyside Nosh]
· A90 On Its Way to Berkeley [~ ESF ~]