BUILD Pizzeria Roma CLOSED 2286 Shattuck Ave./Bancroft, downtown, (510) 898-1839. L-D daily; $$. No reservations.
This is the first pizzeria in Northern California to allow you to customize your own gourmet Roman-style pizza. Servers provide a number to take to the pizza-building cafeteria line where you tell the pie-maker which organic, locally sourced toppings you would like. You’ll see crusts being tossed in the air and completed pies being placed in the two high-heat wood-fired ovens--at 800 to 1,000 degrees pies bake in under three minutes. I ordered what turned out to be a red pizza with the rosso tomato sauce base and toppings that included uncured nitrate-free pepperoni and sweet little red piquante peppers as well as mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, and plenty of whole roasted-garlic cloves. The cost is determined by how many toppings you choose. I also built a delicious veggie-laden salad with a Caesar dressing. A full bar serves up cocktails, and local wines and beers are on tap—including my favorite Berkeley-made Trumer Pils. Dessert selection is also simple—a soft-serve sundae swirled high with Strauss organic ice cream plus a side of housemade topping (I was very pleased with vanilla and butterscotch), or a budino butterscotch pudding served in a cute little Mason jar. High ceilings and some repurposed fixtures accented with clean lines and huge black-and-white photo murals depicting the ‘60s provide a contemporary Italian feel, and silent TVS and pulsating music form the background.
Plan ahead and you can tie this in with a movie at the U.A. Berkeley 7 theater just a few doors down.
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image ©2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers