Benchmark Pizzeria 1568 Oak View Ave./Colusa Ave., in Kensington. (510) 647-9724. D daily.
Located just off the Kensington Circle, this simple spot features red walls, black wood tables, grey tile floors, and big windows that let in plenty of light. Popular with families, it is cheery and noisy. The specialty is crispy-crusted Neapolitan-style pizza pies made with local ingredients and baked in an 800-degree wood-fired oven. The menu changes daily. Antipasti choices are especially interesting—perhaps house-pickled vegetables, olives and almonds, or house-pulled mozzarella.
Pizzas measure about 12 inches and include the simple namesake Benchmark as well as one with housemade sausage and also a folded-over calzone. A few pastas are available, and dessert includes Straus soft-serve ice cream—my favorite is vanilla topped with butterscotch.
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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers