Major disappointment at Cheeseboard Pizza

Cheeseboard Pizza

Since practically everyone I know has sung praise for Berkeley’s Cheeseboard Pizza, it’s been at the top of my list to check out. Well, I went for dinner this weekend, and guess what.

It’s good, but it’s not all that!

Those of you who’ve been there before I know that there’s a pizza of the day, and that’s the only pizza made for the day. The establishment is run by a twelve-person, worker-owned cooperative that collaborates on all the establishment’s operational and business decisions.

The pizza of the day had red peppers, mozzarella, feta, olive tapenade and parsley. The crust was crispy — a little too crispy — and my pizza was unevenly cooked (one side was a little burnt from being too close to the fire). While it was a tasty pizza, it didn’t compare to, say, Pizzeria Delfina, Pizzeria Picco and definitely not Grimaldi’s.

What was lacking? The sauce. Cheeseboard’s Pizza is a white pizza, and it doesn’t include any tomato sauce. There’s just something an earthy, tart, slightly sweet sauce does to take your experience to another level.

Cheeseboard Pizza Collective, 1512 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, Calif. 510.549.3055

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16 Responses to “Major disappointment at Cheeseboard Pizza”

  1. I agree that the pizza was not amazing. I thought that the pizza of the day had an uneven blend of mozzarella and feta cheese in every slice. Still, I think the Cheeseboard is worthy of a second try.

  2. Cheeseboard sucks. You’re right about that.

    However, comparing it to Delfina and Picco doesn’t really make sense. They’re not trying to put out the same product. Cheese board mostly makes white pizzas with a more American feel, while Delfina and Picco make Neapolitan style pizzas. Tomato sauce is nice, but it’s not really part of the Cheeseboard’s profile. You might as well be comparing it to Chicago-style pizza.

  3. I’m not a big fan of cheeseboard. They have that Berkeley holier-than-thou thing going on and the pizza really isn’t that good (depending on the day). If you want some real NY-style pizza (which I guess is the category Cheeseboard falls into), try Gioia’s in Berkeley (Michael Bauer’s written about it). Their Italian ham and red onion pizza is better than most everything I’ve had in NYC. But I don’t think you can compare Cheeseboard and Gioia to Delfina and Picco. Those are differenty styles of pizza-making. Delfina makes a Naples-style pizza, but Gioia and Cheeseboard make a NY-style pizza. (Though Cheeseboard should really be in its own category: Cal-hippy pizza).

  4. Oh, man. White pizza freaking sucks.

  5. They are obviously different styles of pizza, but I think in general — in terms of texture, consistency and general taste — that they can still be compared. They can be different styles but equally good, I think… I just don’t think Cheeseboard was all that great. I do think it deserves a second chance, and this time I will go in with the expectation of a white pizza!

  6. I’m not the biggest fan of white pizza, but the best one I’ve had is at Pizzeria Mozza in LA. The Pizza Bianco is a four-cheese pizza that I supplemented with some amazing Italian sausage. Check it out next time you’re in LA.

    The best pizzas I’ve had in the Bay Area have been deep dish (i.e. Zachary’s and Little Star).

  7. But you can’t really compare them if the measurements and expectations of, as you say, texture, consistency, and general taste are not the same. NY-style pizza (as in Cheeseboard and Gioia) is made with more watery crust in a colder oven, with dry mozzarella and tomato sauce. Neapolitan pizza is made (by definition) with a different flour, a drier crust, crushed fresh tomatoes (not a sauce, the tomatoes cook in the oven) and fresh mozzarella. Thus the expectations for the two are different. You can say you like one style better than the other, but when comparing restaurants, you have to evaluate them within the confines of their chosen style. You wouldn’t compare Delfina to Gino’s East, right?

    Zachary’s? Really?

  8. I love how pizza always stirs up some lively conversation! This is always a tricky one…I guess it depends on the goals of your comparison. I agree that you can compare pizzas in a general way; bad pizza is bad pizza. Good pizza is good pizza. But it’s also helpful to compare from the same category to evaluate the details.

    Jon – I think Zachary’s is SOOOOO overrated, it kills me. I thought their crust was flavorless, and the sauce too fresh (tomatoes too watery). Among Bay Area deep dish, I think that Little Star is pretty good. Patxi’s is alright too. But Gino’s East in Chicago is my gold standard!

  9. Okay, I’m resigned to admitting that you can’t compare Cheeseboard to, say, Pizzeria Picco or Delfina. What I should have articulated was that my EXPERIENCE at the oh-so-holy Cheeseboard Pizza was not even in the same book with my experience with other revered pizzas — such as Picco or Grimaldi’s.
    On the basis of taste, the feta was way too overpowering and the flavors weren’t balanced; the crust was burnt to a crisp, and the pizza was unevenly cooked.

  10. In the Bay Area, deep dish options are limited. Your top three are Zach’s, Little Star and Patxi’s. I think Patxi’s is seriously lacking, and I loved Zachary’s, especially their tart tomato sauce, until I had the heavenly pie that Little Star makes. That corn meal crust makes all the difference.

    Thin crust wise, I really need to try some of SF’s other NY-style offerings, but I love Grimaldi’s as much as Susannah does. šŸ™‚

  11. For real, feta on pizza should be outlawed. And by the way, your Cheeseboard experience was pretty typical. It’s a pretty disappointing place, like a lot of other revered Berkeley establishments.

    Steph, I, too, couldn’t understand the Zachary’s phenomena. But people warned me about the pizza when I moved out here…I just don’t think Californians really know good pizza (I’m not talking Neapolitan here, just commonfolk pizza pie)

  12. I can’t believe anyone here doesn’t LOVE Cheeseboard. I’ve only been once, but I thought it was divine. Believe it was goat cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, red onions that day. Love the little sliver slice too.

  13. I have never had Gino’s East but I will have to try it next time I’m in Chicago.
    Michael Bauer does claim that if he were to go by the sheer number of opinions he’s gotten alone, the best pizza in the Bay Area would be Zachary’s. I haven’t had it (yet)…but there is nothing more upsetting than being disappointed by an overhyped restaurant!

  14. […] comparing pies, I’ve learned (from discussions on this blog) that one must compare a pizza to another pie of the same genre in order to be fair. Since Mozza […]

  15. Amuse yourselves with little bites. If we judge by the people standing in line at the Cheeseboard vs. people in line at Zachary’s, Cheeseboard wins. Of course, all those people at Cheeseboard might be of a certain declassee’
    type, holy or ignorant , so there isn’t really any way to tell except by trying it, as I do at least twice a week.

  16. I thought Cheeseboard itself was overrated, and pizza without tomato sauce is not pizza. You should try Emilia’s Pizza which is also in Berkeley and what I think is superior.

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