Whether your pizza preferences lean toward a fancy sit-down trattoria with a handcrafted, wood-fired margherita, or a counter-service hole-in-the-wall that serves up a hot slice of pepperoni and mushroom pie, there are more great options in the East Bay than ever before. Between the artisanal-aimed culinary explosion in Oakland and the increased movement toward sustainability and locally sourced ingredients, the East Bay is a center for what’s new — and old — when it comes to the country’s favorite handheld dinner. Taking into account the wide range of styles, crusts and costs — and whether you use a fork and knife or a traditional Brooklyn fold — these are our East Bay Best Pizza winners for 2023, selected by our editors. And look for our readers’ choice winner, selected by our audience.
Feature Photo: Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack
Best East Bay Pizza Map
Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack
For a place that gives off a hip, young, comfort-food vibe, Arthur Mac’s has some surprisingly creative pizza styles, from the Arty Style Margherita with a buttermilk marinara and balsamic, to the olive tapenade-topped Vegan Superstar and the Pesto 2.0 with piquillo peppers and roasted mushrooms. The outdoor beer garden has a retractable roof, fire pits and heat lamps, as well as a rotating list of local craft brews, wines, hard seltzers and ciders. Hours are 3pm to 10pm Monday through Thursday, 12pm to 11pm Friday and Saturday, 12pm to 10pm Sunday. arthurmacs.com
Bare Knuckle Pizza
Chef Viet Nguyen decided that no one was making wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas from scratch in downtown Oakland, so he opened Bare Knuckle. The menu for individual-size pies is relatively short, but a surprisingly big portion of it is reserved for vegan pizzas, including vegan versions of the Margherita, the Pepperoni, and the Supremo, with Butcher’s Son mozzarella, Tofurky sausage and vegan bacon and pepperoni. Nguyen uses locally sourced, organic ingredients when possible and locally milled flour. Hours are 4pm to 8:30pm Friday and Saturday. bareknucklepizza.com
Hidden away in the hills of Kensington, Benchmark opened in 2012 with a style that owners Melissa and Peter Swanson call “neo-Neapolitan.” The smaller wood-fired pizzas range from the simple traditional Benchmark, with sauce, mozzarella and Sicilian oregano, to the creative Fried Sage, with mozzarella, shaved garlic, lemon and brown butter. The cheese, sausage, pies, pasta and condiments are made in-house, and the produce is local and sustainable. Hours are 4:30pm to 9:00pm, daily. benchmarkpizzeria.com
Casual, chic spot on Jack London Square with handcrafted wood-fired pizzas that pack a lot of flavors, both traditional and not-so-much. The more creative pies include the “Skrimp,” with garlic oil, butter poached prawns, red onion, and Calabrian chili, and the G.O.A.T, packed with garlic, roasted fennel, mushroom, sausage, truffle oil, mozzarella and goat cheese. Patio dining is popular on weekends; the indoor dining room is airy and well-spaced. Hours are 12pm to 9 pm Sunday through Thursday, 12pm to 10 pm Friday and Saturday. theforgepizza.com
The name (pronounced “joy-ah”) is an Italian noun for “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” — which is what fans of New York-style pizza will get at this thoroughly East Coast Italian neighborhood joint. Will and Karen Gioia opened in 2004 with a menu and vibe based on the grab-a-slice places he grew up with in Brooklyn, which means ask for a fork and knife at your own peril. The styles are New York, from Pomodoro to Funghi to Formaggio, but with a healthy dose of California farm-to-fork ingredients and flourishes. Oh, and take the cannoli. Hours are 11am to 8pm, Monday through Saturday, 12pm to 7pm on Sunday. gioiapizzeria.com
Hip, compact pizzeria co-founded by pizza guru Matt Molina offers New York-style slices and pies that can be picked up without fear of collapse. Names for most of the styles are pulled from the graffiti lexicon, including the Tagger’s Delight, a no-sauce pie with four cheeses, crushed tomatoes and basic, and the Krylon, with pepperoni, salami, sausage and bacon. Hours are 5pm to 10 pm Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 5pm to 1am Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday. graffitipizza1.square.site
If you’re looking for a slice of heaven, look no further than Point Richmond’s Raymond’s Pizza. At this conveniently located pizzeria, you can find a plentiful variety of delicious pan/thin-crust pies, salads, meatballs, and beers on tap. East Bay locals recommend ordering pizza by the slice for lunch here. raymondspizzeria.com
Zachary’s Chicago Pizza
We’d say this East Bay pizzeria has reached legendary status for its stuffed-to-the brim Chicago-style pies that has been drawing lines out the door to dine in or take half-baked pies to go since 1983. Filled with everything from the signature spinach, mushroom and cheese combo to a blend of Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, chopped bacon and mozzarella, the pizzas are smothered in Zachary’s tangy diced tomato sauce before being baked until the crust reaches golden brown perfection. If you must, you can also order a more traditional-style thin-crust pizza, and gluten-free and vegan options are available as well. Hours vary per location. zacharys.com
More Local Favorites in the East Bay
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