In a surprise announcement on Instagram on Monday, owners Jon and Kayta Smulewitz of Berkeley’s Pollara Pizzeria shared that they will close up shop on Sunday, June 25. They say the reason for the closure is to move back to New Jersey. “While we’re excited to be closer to family and start this next chapter of our lives, it’s an emotional moment,” the couple writes in their statement.
In the closure announcement, the Smulewitzes looked back at their time in the Bay Area, which spans 23 years, during which they opened three businesses, raised two children, and formed “countless beautiful relationships,” they say. Jon Smulewitz previously worked at popular Oakland restaurant Oliveto, before the couple moved on to start Oakland restaurant Dopo, which opened in 2003 and served Italian food for 17 years before closing in 2020. Their other business, wine bar spinoff Adesso, opened in 2009 and was known for its salumi, which then-San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer called, “heaven” in his review. Adesso was a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2010 at the James Beard Awards but closed in 2017.
Pollara Pizzeria is the couple’s latest restaurant venture, opening at Berkeley’s Fourth Street shopping district in 2019. The pizza shop was inspired by a trip to Rome and chef Gabriele Bonci’s style of pizza al taglio, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The pizzeria made fans with its slice options and wine selection, including a favorable review from former Chronicle food critic turned columnist Soleil Ho in 2021, as well as a shout-out for being a favorite establishment from natural winemakers Chris Brockway and Bridget Leary of Berkeley’s Broc Cellars.
The couple says they’re not sure what their next plan is, but states they “have some ideas in the works.” They thanked the staff who’ve walked through their doors, and those they’ve met at their restaurants. “We are humbled by all of you who’ve supported, loved, and broken bread with us over the years,” the couple says. “You’ve made Oakland a home and we’ve been saying that we’re just moving back to our other family — that’s how much you have all come to mean to us.”
Eater SF reached out to Jon and Kayta Smulewitz regarding the closure and will update this story when more information becomes available.