Emelia’s Pizzeria

2995 Shattuck Ave. (Berkeley)

Emelia's pizza slice

Some of the best pizza in Berkeley is at this small joint in Ashby.

Emilia’s Pizzeria has quite the intimidating web site: it is basically one big FAQ section telling you to order 3 hours in advance, reserve a table even further ahead, and by the way…don’t be surprised if the pizza runs out and you can’t get any.  Is this place really worth all the trouble?

Yes, yes it is.  Actually, once you get past the initial hurdle of ordering a pizza here, the rest of the experience is pretty friendly.  If you dine in, they’ll do their best to ensure the pizza gets out of the oven right as you arrive  (there’s no ordering at the table; remember, you have to order three hours in advance…) .  If you like hours of table conversation, this is probably not a good thing.  But if you want get down to business and not muck about with appetizer menus then this is a welcome change.  Despite the aura created by their web site, the interior is actually very, very small, with only one small table, one larger table, and one portrait of Frank Sinatra.

Oh, so you’d like me to talk about the pizza.  Well, it is quite superb indeed.  The highlight is definitely the sauce – they don’t skimp on it, it has ‘pop’, and the consistency hits exactly the right note between chunky and smooth.  The crust is thin for the majority of the slice, but thickens up at the edges.  The best feature of the crust is its thin crisp layer which reveals a soft inside.  The crisp layer can be so thin at points that it burns a little – this may be a feature that you enjoy or not.  The cheese, which comes as islands of mozzarella, is very good as well.  A touch of basil rounds out the slice.

Despite having amazing flavor, there is one disappointing aspect of Emelia’s pizza: it is not filling at all.  We had 2 large pizzas between 5 people and came away somewhat hungry afterwards.

Emelia’s is a must-try pizzeria in Berkeley.  But you’ll have to plan the experience in advance and reserve a table – since when did ordering pizza become planning date night at a French restaurant?

Summary: Superb East-coast style pizza, but a little light on the stomach and requires advanced planning.

Verdict: Go there!

Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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