Wednesday, September 9, 2009

RR: Cheeseboard Pizza (Berkeley, CA)

A friend who currently attends UC Berkeley introduced me to this popular pizza eatery. Now I'm not a huge fan of pizza, as my places to go for pizza have been limited to Costco ($10 for a large combo! what a great deal), Pizza Guys (there's a store really close to my previous apt) and California Pizza Kitchen aka CPK. My friend told me that I had to try out this place for my first restaurant in Berkeley, because it's pretty well-known amongst locals. Bring it on Cheeseboard, my palate is ready for ya.

Cheeseboard Pizza is a collective of twelve employees that make and sell a vegetarian pizza 5 days a week. Yes, just one pizza to choose from, called "Pizza of the Day." Despite the low selection, the restaurant has no problem in drawing in a large crowd. It doesn't need coupons in the newspaper to persuade you. Its pizza is an everchanging menu special by itself.
After waiting a couple of minutes in line (we just beat the lunch rush), we ordered a whole pizza to split for $20 (a single slice goes for $2.50, and there's no extra charge for tax). They quickly assembled the pizza in a box and handed it to me by the time I finished paying. Wow, no wonder the line moves so quickly. They only have one pizza to make, so production time is very speedy! Plus, they added two half slices in as a bonus. Now that's good service.
I was particularly excited to see pine nuts on the menu! They have a good mild nutty flavor, and contain antioxidants (particularly vitamin K for blood clotting and lutein for eye health), fiber and oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat that helps control cholesterol). All of the components of pesto (delicious on sandwiches and pasta) are there, plus tomatoes, onions and cheese, on a thin crispy crust (cut down on some carbs!).
The pizza was still bubbling by the time we sat down at our table. I sampled the half slice first. The tomatoes and basil taste very fresh, the cheese and garlic olive oil melts in your mouth and the crust is crisp and doughy. I never knew that vegetarian pizza would taste so good! My only complaints are that the pizza was very oily (due to the olive oil - napkins to the rescue!), the garlic flavor was overempowering, and there weren't enough pine nuts! I only tasted about 3 pine nuts total while eating 2.5 slices.

I liked the openness of the restaurant; you can see the entire kitchen when you are ordering your pizza, so you get an idea of what they do. While we were nibbling on our pizza, a live local jazz band was playing in the dining area. Their music was awesome to hear, but since the dining area is small, it was pretty loud and I had trouble talking with my friends over the music. There were tables inside the restaurant and patio tables outside, but the seating is still not enough (see first picture). Some customers resort to sitting at the grassy center divide in the middle of the road.

A random note: Their restrooms are clean! Extra kudos!
Overall, I have to give a thumbs up for making yummy vegetarian pizzas with fresh ingredients. I don't think I can look at other pizzas the same way again. We can really taste the difference. Heck, maybe I can be a temporary vegetarian with this!
Check out their "Pizza of the Day" @

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