Berkeley is getting a new addition to its busy pizza scene: Chef Laura Meyer announced she will bring Pizzeria da Laura to Berkeley with the restaurant expected to open in early 2023. In an Instagram post on Monday, Meyer credited Tony Gemignani with shaping her into the pizzaiola she is today (and an award-winning one, at that). “Although it makes me want to cry,” Meyer wrote, “I am looking at it as the end of one epic tale and the beginning of a new one. We are as close to family as you can get and he couldn’t get rid of me now even if he tried.”
Meyer says she’s holding off on sharing the restaurant’s exact location, hinting only that it’s on Shattuck Avenue near the University of California Berkeley campus. Meyer, who was born and raised in the East Bay and lives in Oakland, says she knew she wanted to bring her business back home. “For as much as I love San Francisco, the East Bay is a little bit more my vibe,” she says. The menu remains in flux, but Meyer says she’ll be serving “a couple different styles” of pies — including the pan variety; she’s hoping to bring some styles not already available to diners in the area. There will be a full bar program, she promises, though the focus of the bar will depend on the design and build-out, both of which are happening now.
Meyer has worked with Gemignani since 2006 when they met at Pyzano’s Pizzeria in Castro Valley — which was owned by Gemignani’s brother and where Meyer worked during high school — and the star pizzaiolo asked her to join him at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. During their time working together, Meyer learned the 13 regional styles of pizza, Gemignani told Forbes, and has served in a variety of roles within Gemignani’s pizza empire from kitchen manager to regional chef for the Pizza Rock restaurant group to head chef at Capo’s. She’s won awards for her pizza, including the World Pizza Championship for pan pizza in 2013; best nontraditional pizza at the International Pizza Expo in 2014; as well as the American pizza division of Caputo Cup, NPR reported.
After taking the lead role at Capo’s, Meyer began a pop-up in North Beach in 2021, Focaccia Da Laura, highlighting the Italian bread. And it was the pop-up that sparked the idea that it might be time to strike out on her own, she says. “I had never really thought about doing my own thing at that point,” she says, but from the success of pop up it “became a natural progression.” Meyer will hang up her pizza peel at Capo’s following this week; She says that as one of only a handful of women pizzeria chef-owners out there, she hopes her restaurant will encourage other women to pick up their own. “I might be the first in the area,” she says. “But hopefully not the last.”