Arinell Pizza

2119 Shattuck Ave (Berkeley)


Arinelli slice

Berkeley's version of New York at Arinell.

Don’t expect a smile when you walk into Arinell Pizza.  While you’re at it, don’t expect a plate either (you get a piece of wax paper instead).  I’m surprised this place invested in stools and doesn’t expect you to sit on the floor.

Arinell Pizza specializes in New York style – and it actually succeeds, although it’s closer to a caricature of New York pizza than the real thing.  Still, the essential features are instantly recognizable.  The crust is thin, the sauce is robust, the cheese is gooey, and the grease all over you by the time you finish.  But the resemblance goes beyond superficialities – Arinell’s taste backs up the looks.

The first thing you’ll notice is the cheese – there is a lot of it.  The cheese isn’t just greasy; it’s actually really good, having a melt-in-your-mouth liquid-like consistency.  Sprinkling a little Parmesan on top only enhanced the flavor, although it quickly melts into the hot grease puddles.

Depending on the day, you might catch a pie that is well-sauced or one that is a unfortunately low.  You’ll know when you caught a good day: when you bite into the slice, the sauce will jump out at you.  It has zest.   Whatever they put in the sauce complements the cheese well, and it can be deliciously heterogeneous; some bites will surprise you with a reprise of the base flavor.

The crust is thin, foldable, and mainly stays out of the way flavor-wise.  I suspect this is because they don’t add any extra sugar or salt to the dough.  However, the quality of the crust is excellent; it’s highly tearable and has a nice fluffiness on the inside.

My main complaint about Arinell is that it’s unpredictable; on a bad day, the pizza can be pretty mundane.  You will have to go a few times to get the slice I describe here.  However, when it succeeds Arinell Pizza is a fun experience, especially if you imagine the uncaring atmosphere as yet another exaggerated version of New York.

Overall: Arinell pizza might not transport you to New York, but it will certainly bring back memories.  A must-try in Berkeley, although you may have to go a few times to get a good slice.

Verdict: Go there!


Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 9:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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