The East Bay is home to some truly standout pizza — certified pizza Napoletana, Sicilian classics, New York slices, and even an "Oakland-style" all its own with a sourdough crust. Check out these 16 pizza joints that are essential to defining the East Bay as a pizza destination, one that's fit to compete with any other major metropolis. Speak up in the comments section below to voice your opinion if your favorite pie place didn't make the list.Read More
The Essential East Bay Pizza Restaurants
Where to get a serious slice on the other side of the Bay
Opening in 2013, this well-received sequel to the SF classic that debuted in 2004 serves the same true Neapolitan pies, gorgeous wood-fired char and all. This newer Rockridge location has some more inventive takes, including a fried pizza and a rachetta, which comes with its own little handle of dough. Be sure to pair their pies with sommelier Shelley Lindgren's excellent wine selections.
2. Arinell Pizza
Berkeley, CA 94704
Pizza by the slice is foldable, crisp, and simple at Arnell’s. With locations in the Mission and Berkeley, it's perfectly located to satisfy your pizza cravings at any hour (even midnight, to soak up the night's questionable choices).
3. Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria
Arizmendi's one-vegetarian-pie-per-day scheme leads to some awesome (if untraditional) pizza experiences, with the seasonal toppings like mushroom-red onion-goat cheese and artichoke-spinach-lemon-rosemary earning their fans. Check the calendar before you go in, and mark yours for the Super Bowl, the only day of the year it serves two different pies.
4. Boot & Shoe Service
The baby sister restaurant to Charlie Hallowell’s Pizziaolo, this Grand Avenue staple is proving to pump out wood-fired pies at the same level as its predecessor. Keeping with the tradition of thin-crusted and slightly chewy dough topped with market-driven ingredients (try wild nettles and pecorino, or add a farm egg to any pie), it’s no wonder that this local favorite seems to be here to last.
5. Chez Panisse
With so many chefs on this list and others with roots at this Berkeley institution, it seems silly not to mention the pie and calzones that are produced in the lightest, freshest, and most sustainable manner in the East Bay. With a dough recipe that has been pedestaled into the history books with its use of rye flour and seasonal ingredients, the pizza here is in a category all on its own, allowing the local ingredients to shine as the stars of their pies.
For more than a decade this Piedmont Avenue classic has been offering baked-to-order bubbly pies that glisten with olive oil that's been brushed on, and even allowing the cheeses to crisp up and take on texture of their own. While Dopo and sister restaurant Adesso specialize in house-cured meats, when Sicilian pizza is done right, sometime all you need is the cheese.
7. Emilia's Pizzeria
Emilia's is a bit of a tough ticket (it's only open at certain hours, and a strict pre-ordering system means you could wait five hours or more for a pie), but Keith Freilich definitely has something special for those willing to put in the legwork. His New York-style pies aren't really about seasonality, but they're carefully made and completely delicious.
8. Fist of Flour Pizza Doughjo
Getting its start as a food truck making appearances throughout the East Bay, Fist of Flour now has a brick-and-mortar (dubbed the dough-jo) offering takeout, too. Owner James Whitehead aims to deliver fresh ingredients and local produce, fitting into the Bay Area's pizza scene. Check the site for locations of the mobile pizza oven as it makes appearances at food truck gatherings, special events, and even offers private catering services.
9. Forge Pizza
Newer to the Jack London Square scene, this wood-fired restaurant with a view of the bay has semi-Napoletana pizza that's wholly and unapologetically American in style. With a crust based off of Tartine’s recipe in SF, Forge isn't afraid to shy away from Italian authenticity. Try the Margherita, using Cali-grown marzano tomatoes, mozzarella curds from Fairfield, and local marjoram and parsley when basil is out of season.
Garnering attention nationwide as the sustainable half-meatless restaurant that's a shining beacon of the ecological responsibility instilled by Chez Panisse, it's somewhat surprising that Gather ended up on a list about pizza. But with hot blistery pizza kissed by the open flames topped with seasonal ingredients, it warrants an inclusion. The hearty pies feature the Bay Area's jewel produce (like with roasted corn, basil, jalepeños, and creamy tomato sauce), and the vegan pies are surprisingly great, too.
11. Gioia Pizzeria
There's now a second location in SF of this reliable option for a pie or a slice that boasts inventive topping combos like radicchio and gorgonzola; spinach, ricotta, brown butter, and hazelnuts; or salami, Castelvetrano olives, and provolone. Check out the Russian Hill sister-restaurant for a similar menu, but a more expansive dining room.
12. Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub
Offering a slew of local beers on tap, and pumping out New York-style thin crust pizza, this pizzeria/pub with humble beginnings has evolved into somewhat of a local chain (with five locations throughout the East Bay). While ever expanding, the quality of the pies remains the same, so stop in for a whole pie or a slice of the crowd-favorite Heartstopper (bacon, gorgonzola, garlic, and spinach) at this local favorite.
13. Nick's Pizza
Aron Ford and Nick Yapor-Cox have serious baking pedigrees from spots like Arizmendi and Eleven Madison Park. Their tiny, Oakland-based pizza outpost on Shattuck Avenue is a diamond in the rough, showcasing their immense baking skills through creative and classic pizzas. Their "Oakland-style" sourdough crusts are what make these pizzas special, though creative combos like peaches, mozzarella, and arugula aren't too shabby, either.
Charlie Hallowell made his name putting out masterful California pies at this Temescal favorite, with a wood-burning oven that produces a beautifully-spotted crust and excellent local produce on top (try the white potato pie with pancetta and fontina or the tomato pie with housemade sausage and cream). Its sister restaurant Boot & Shoe Service, located on West Grand Avenue, is also a winner.
15. The Cheeseboard Collective
The originator of the one-pizza-a-day style, Cheeseboard is still the master of the form, churning out California-style pies loaded with seasonal produce combos. Pies lack sauce, and toppings like corn, kale, and arugula can get a bit precious for some, but the pies here are always vegetarian, and for our money, always delicious.
16. Zachary's Chicago Pizza
Zachary's offers a glorious stuffed pie, with an extra layer of dough, buttery crust, sweet tomatoes, and filling that draws crowds every evening. It's almost like a savory layer cake of sauce, crust and toppings. Definitely not one of the lightest meal options around, and that can be a wonderful thing.