No matter where you live among American cities, people are passionate about their pizza — and while the adage about pizza and sex (when it's bad it's still pretty good?) might be true in a pinch, anybody can melt cheese on toast, and that's not what we're here to talk about. The art of pizza-making requires that a number of things work together in tandem — ingredients, dough-making skills, oven temperature — and I'm happy to say the East Bay has its fair share of excellent pizzaiolos.
You can find all versions of pizza, from Little Caesar's to the prize-winning Neapolitan variety, across the East Bay. And we’ve all heard our transplant friends complain that the pizza is meh in California, but clearly these people are just repeating a cliche their parents passed around decades ago. There are, I assure you, a lot of top-notch slices and pies to be had in the Bay Area (see the SF list here), and plenty to be found in Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond.
A relative new kid on the block having opened in late 2018, this cozy, family friendly Park Street pizzeria is brought to you by the owners of Scolari’s Good Eats. You'll find pizza by the slice at reasonable prices, as well as whole pizzas to go that are huge. The classics like cheese and pepperoni are fresh and delicious, but they offer other unique ingredient combos, specifically the Swedish-inspired banana chicken curry pie yes, you read that right. Added bonus: they do offer a cauliflower crust option for their pizzas if you’re looking for a healthier, low-carb option. Great service, friendly staff, solid menu with something for everyone. The only downside I can name is that they do not do delivery.1330 Park Street, Alameda, CA 94501
It’s a little hard at this point to even know what to say about Zachary’s that hasn’t already been said. It is truly a Bay Area institution. With the original College Avenue location having opened 30+ years ago, Zachary’s now has 5 locations across the East Bay. This review focuses on their Berkeley location on Solano Avenue. Quirky Zachary’s themed art adorns the walls here, almost reminiscent of the various artistic posters that adorn the inside of the Fillmore. Although primarily known for their Chicago-style stuffed pies, the majority of pizzas from the special menu can be made as a crispy, semi-thin crust as well. Weekly specials are always changing and offer flavorful combinations. Delivery is also available through third-party delivery sites. You can’t call yourself a resident of the East Bay if you haven’t gone to Zachary’s, so get on it!1853 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707
The quintessential Gourmet Ghetto bakery and pizza shop is world famous and decidedly deserves all the praise heaped on it. This worker-owned collective has been open since 1971, and also inspired the opening of Arizmendi Bakery, another cooperative bakery. Cheeseboard offers a different vegetarian pizza every day, with vegan and gluten free options — but the toppings are what they are. You can grab a slice, half a pie or a whole pie (only one size available), and there is pretty much guaranteed to be a line here, but it moves relatively quickly. There’s not a ton of seating inside, but plenty outside. And don’t forget to try some of their signature creamy, green dipping sauce!1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709
Ok, I feel like this choice might be a bit polarizing, but hear me out! The pros are: this is reasonably priced pizza, they offer pretty speedy delivery and the best part is they are open until 3 a.m. (ish) on weeknights and almost 4 a.m. on weekends! This is such a rarity in the Bay Area, I feel that this is deserving of a slot on this list. The menu has a pretty good selection, but I tend to favor the basics from this place. A classic cheese or pepperoni pizza after a late night out is typically just what the doctor ordered. The majority of their locations are in SF and the South Bay, but their Berkeley location offers delivery to a decent East Bay radius. Their Durant Avenue space is small and simple, with a counter with a few chairs. It's great for a quick slice but not for a sit-down dinner. (Available for delivery through third party delivery sites.)2518 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
This NYC pizza chain first migrated to the West Coast in 2013 with the opening this location in Berkeley. They have now also expanded to an Oakland location off of Telegraph Ave, adding to an empire of 11 locations already in the Big Apple. These slices are yuuuuuge and they are no joke. It takes two paper plates to contain them! The Berkeley location does not include any seating, but they do have some counter space where you can stand and enjoy your slice. They also offer some unique flavor combinations like signature artichoke pizza with spinach and cream sauce.2590 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
Oh, Emilia’s! This place is complicated for several reasons, but just understand that it is worth it and very delicious. First thing’s first, it is teeny tiny and really only has two tables, so it's all about takeout. Next item to note, this place is CASH ONLY. It's also a one-person operation, so there is a system of calling in your order or submitting a call-back request through their website. Delivery is not available. When you place your order, they will let you know the time your pizza will be ready, which could take a few hours. They accept orders until they sell out, which is every night, so it’s worth calling as soon as they open or submitting your online call-back request earlier in the day. Seems like a lot of work for pizza, right? Don’t worry, you’ll be glad you did for some of Berkeley's finest thin-crust pies. It just takes2995 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
This elegant and cozy West Oakland stop offers large whole pies with fresh and unique flavors and toppings. They also have a great outdoor patio space with the game cornhole, if you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy a sunny day in Oakland with a few beers. The pizzas are all 18 inches one size only so it's worth bringing a crew to share. Pizza is also available for delivery through some of the standard delivery apps. The pies here are a little pricey, but given the size of the pies and the quality of the ingredients, it’s not unreasonable. Notable pizzas to try include their corn, pesto and goat cheese pizza; their sausage and shitake mushroom pizza; and lastly, their seafood pie.2935 Market Street, Oakland, CA 94608
Can’t decide between pizza and Indian food? Surprised you’re being asked that question? It’s now a bit of a Bay Area staple to combine the two and a stunningly great marriage. Namaste Pizza is the epitome of fusion food and I am absolutely here for it. Namaste’s two locations, in Oakland and Pleasanton, offer whole pies only, 12-inch and 14-inch sizes with a variety of meat and veggie Indian-inspired pizzas, as well as traditional pizza toppings for custom orders. Both locations are relatively small and do offer the option to dine-in in a casual setting. Delivery is also available directly through the restaurant, or through almost every app. Prices are, frankly, a little steep, but since no other pizza place offers this menu, sometimes you just have to treat yourself to something special. Favorite pizza flavors include their chicken tikka-inspired “chicken pizza masala,” their sweet and spicy “mango monsoon pizza,” and lastly, their spicy lamb gyro pizza.5942 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94608
The Clinton neighborhood, east of Lake Merritt, definitely has some fantastic food spots peppered into its quiet, suburban streets, and Philomena is no exception. The space has a decent amount of seating, plenty of TVs for game-day viewing, and a well-rounded list of local beers and ciders on tap and it's an off-shoot of Portal, which makes sense. They offer 10-inch and 16-inch pies cooked in cast iron for pickup or delivery through Caviar, as well as gluten-free crust and vegan options. The menu includes both their own flavor combos or you can customize your pizza. Personal favorites include the “Hot Sausage Party” and “Miss Piggy” for the meat lovers, and their “Garlic Garden” for the vegetarians.1801 14th Avenue, Oakland, CA 94606
Although Nick’s does have a small morning bakery service on Friday and Saturday mornings, the real star of the show is their “Oakland style” sourdough crust pizza. The menu changes every few weeks, but there are some consistent pies. Oakland native chef Nick Yapor-Cox returned to the Bay Area to open this shop after stints as a pastry chef at NY's Eleven Madison Park and Alex Guarnaschelli's Butter. Here he offers slices to go as well as whole pies for takeout, with meat, veggie and vegan options. (No custom orders or substitutions.) You can call ahead for whole pies for pickup, but delivery options are somewhat limited. The Tarte Flambee pizza is one of the most popular flavors, so if you’re lucky to catch it while it’s on the menu, give it a try.6211 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
Tucked away on a quiet street and right down the road from Prizefighter bar, this unassuming Emeryville favorite offers New York-style slices and whole pies, as well as a great selection of local beers on tap. The ingredients and toppings used are extremely fresh and high quality, which is reflected in slightly higher prices for whole pies. Slices are generously sized though, so it’s worth it. And bonus: RCP is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.6613 Hollis Street, Emeryville, CA 94608
Until Richmond Pizza House, I had never heard of a place offering 28-inch pizzas. This is their “mega” pizza size, but they offer five other size options, as well as calzones, so don’t worry, you’re only option isn’t just a comically oversized pizza that will feed a small army! Outside of this, another unique differentiator of RPH is their crust options. They offer seven different crusts: original, thin and crispy, thick, twisted sesame, stuffed, garlic, and gluten-free (GF only available for 12-inch and 14-inch sizes). Also, their menu is vast, with tons of pizza specials and variety, and reasonable prices. In summary, these pizzas are thick, chewy, warm, melty, and tasty, and definitely worth your pizza dollar.12343 San Pablo Avenue, Richmond, CA 94805
This Point Richmond shop co-owned by former pro-skateboarder, Brad Staba, serves slices of pizza that are so classic and perfect, they resemble the pizza emoji. Raymond’s offers slices or whole 18-inch round pies, and 12x18-inch square pan pizzas as well. There are some excellent and cleverly named pizza specials, vegan options as well as some great salads and starters to pair with it all. There is counter space and some small tables to dine in, or you can take out or order delivery. Highly recommend trying the “McMushroom” pizza, or the extra spicy “Rules are Meant to be Broken” pizza topped with their house-made pickled peppers.130 Railroad Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801
Brought to you by 13-time world pizza champion and proprietor of numerous pizza restaurants in SF and the North Bay, Tony Gemignani, Slice House serves up generously sized, fresh slices all day. They offer a different “slice of the day” special each day of the week, as well as standard options from the menu, both as slices or whole 13- and 20-inch pies. The slices are a little pricey, in the $5-$7 range, but they are enormous so it’s essentially like eating two standard sized slices. Pizzas by the slice are all perfectly displayed in glass cases, and you can order at the counter for dine-in or take out. Delivery is also available through many third party delivery sites. If you’ve tried Tony’s superior pizza anywhere else, you’ll know this is worth a stop if you happen to be in the Walnut Creek area.1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Walnut Creek, CA 94596