Berkeley fans of wood-fired pizza can rejoice today as news breaks that the man behind Oakland's very popular Boot & Shoe Service and Pizzaiolo is expanding his offerings to the north. Berkeleyside reports that chef Charlie Hallowell is opening up a fourth restaurant in what was once the downtown Berkeley home of Build Pizzeria and Berkeley Underground nightclub, at 2286 Shattuck Avenue.
"We are in the very early stages of planning and it will most likely be a year or so until we plan to open,” restaurant spokesperson Carly Roemmer told the publication.
Even with the projected opening date a year off, patrons of Boot & Shoe Service, Pizzaiolo, and Hallowell's more expansive Grand Lake spot Penrose are likely stoked.
Pizzaiolo debuted in 2005 and helped kick off a wave of new businesses and activity in Oakland's Temescal neighborhood, continuing to draw nightly crowds for its pizza and seasonal pastas and salads to this day. Boot & Shoe followed a few years later, with an identical menu, but adopted the name on the sign above its Grand Avenue location, a former shoe repair shop. Both restaurants have held spots on Michael Bauer's Top 100 in the years since.
The new location includes an 8,000-square-foot basement nightclub space, and part of the delay appears to be a result of Hallowell trying to figure out what (if anything) to do with all that real estate. “We have taken over the whole space, including the venue space, but have no plans for the downstairs as of now, including a name," Roemmer explained. "Although Boot & Show is pretty good."
And having an upscale bottle-service nightclub in downtown Berkeley was not, perhaps, the greatest business idea, as evidenced by the brief lifespan of Berkeley Underground, which opened in late 2014 and closed along with the pizzeria in April 2015, followed by an October bankruptcy filing.
As the location was formerly outfitted for pizza, and Pizzaiolo and Boot & Shoe Service have very similar menus, it is a safe bet that very little else will change about the third pizzeria, whether bottle service happens there or no.