North Beach Pizza has been curing cravings for gourmet pizza, pastas, submarine sandwiches, and other hearty eats for more than 20 years. Thin and thick pizza crusts are tossed by hand and topped with whole milk mozzarella before baking evenly in industrial ovens, creating perfect, edible canvases ready to be bedecked in ingredients that include everything from fresh spinach and feta cheese, to clams and Linguiça––a form of Portuguese pork sausage. Delivery is free to eligible areas around each location, saving time that may be better spent setting the table or taking inventory of its legs.
Pizzas and microbrews. Arcade games and theater. While chowing down on a pepperoni slice, or twirling shrimp alfredo around a fork, guests at La Val's Pizza can sometimes take in a play, catch up with friends, or use a pool cue to spear a neighboring table's margarita pie.
La Val's dining area sprawls across several rooms. In one, Devo and Citizen Kane posters hang above red booths. In another space, sunlight streams in through large windows, illuminating ropes and half a bicycle hanging from the ceiling. Rustic, picnic-table-style seating lines a brick wall in yet another area. Across all the rooms, however, a cohesive palette of warm colors unites the decor and creates a friendly atmosphere.
Throngs of pizza-hungry crowds flock to Blondie's Pizza for creative style pizzas sold by the slice. Three types of mushrooms populate the Magic Mushroom pizza, in stark contrast to the three types of meat—sausage, salami, and all-beef pepperoni—that compose the Carnivore pizza. The eatery even serves up a healthy whole-wheat vegetarian slice, where organic tomatoes, basil, and a bounty of veggies top a whole-wheat crust. Inside both the Berkeley and San Francisco locations, various photos and tchotchkes adorn the wall, including mosaics and staircase railings full of cows and metal sausages.
The cooks at Lanesplitter bake up a menu of New York–style pizzas and pocket-like calzones, and bartenders at the three pub locations pour a large selection of microbrews. An army of nearly 30 meaty, veggie, and vegan toppings stands ready to occupy thin neapolitan or thick sicilian crusts in combinations such as the herbivore's spinach, mushrooms, onions, and olives ($23.50 for a 19-inch) or the garbage pie's heaping mélange of spiced meats and crisper-drawer items ($27.50 for a 19-inch). The bar's taps have recently flowed with Racer 5 by Bear Republic, E.J. Phair's doppelbock, and hand-pumped Bombay by Boat IPA from Moonlight Brewing Company. Some locations host art openings, where diners and drinkers may admire photography, paintings, or mosaics made entirely of anchovies.
Rotten City gives a green-thumbed go-ahead to chow down on any of its organically infused creations. Tip your cap to the funghi pie with roasted cremini mushrooms tossed about toasted garlic chips under a blanketing trio of mozzarella, provolone, and parmigiano cheeses ($23 per pie, $3.50 per slice), or fall mouth first into a marinara pie featuring garden-rich basil, fresh thyme, and toasted garlic splashed with extra-virgin olive oil and salted by the sea ($19 per pie, $3 per slice). The bianco verde is a fan favorite, with its potent combination of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano, arugula pesto, chili flakes, and olive oil. Carnivores can hang a fang on hand-crafted salami, crater-laden sausage, and salt-cured anchovies for an extra $3 per ingredient.
Back in 1955, three Berkley-dwelling businessmen came together with an idea for a restaurant that specialized in something they knew everyone could enjoy. Pizza. And so, the first La Val's Pizza was born. First opening up on Euclid Avenue, the pizzeria grew over the years, changing hands and opening five locations throughout the area. Today, La Val's Pizza of Albany serves up some of the same classic pies from the hey-days of the UC-Berkley pizza joint hangout, using fresh ingredients in place of 57-year-old mushrooms. The Brazilian couple that owns and operates the location have also crafted a menu of Brazilian pizzas, which feature ingredients such as Brazilian cheese, smoked meat, and tan-tan drums.