|Spinach and mushroom slices|
We experienced New Haven style apizza in the East Village at BASIC urban kitchen + bar, and it was as good or better than the original versions in Connecticut. Walking from the excellent boutique lodging at Hotel Z on 6th Avenue, we stumbled on Berkeley Pizza on Island Avenue.
With its retro-hippie sign and reference to Berkeley California, I anticipated a place for vegan and gluten free pies, or quinoa pizza topped with free-range acai berries and amaranth sprouts. That impression was completely inaccurate. Instead, Berkeley offers Chicago-style deep dish pizza and a nice selection of craft beers.
Unlike most deep-dish places, Berkeley sells pizza by the slice. I had about a half dozen choices, and I opted for a slice of their signature pie with spinach and mushrooms ($4.25), and a sausage slice ($3.75). Full pies take one hour, but it's only five minutes to reheat a slice.
|Underside of the crust|
While the overall depth of the pie was substantial due to the distinctly raised cornicione and the amount of sauce and cheese, the bottom crust itself was only medium thickness. It was crisp on bottom, a little buttery, and a little flaky. Not an amazing crust, but a sturdy and tasty vehicle for the ingredients pooled within.
On the signature slice, there was good mushroom flavor that was distinctive even buried under the sea of red sauce and molten cheese. The spinach, on the other hand, was more visual than taste-able. Like most deep-dish pies, there was a LOT of cheese, probably a bit too much.
The mild mozzarella never gets any oven browning, and thus it is denied a chance to shine. Still, the excellent sauce, the flavorful mushrooms, and the nicely executed crust combined to provide a highly satisfying experience.
The sausage slice repeated the nice crust, lava flow of cheese, and excellent chunky red sauce. The sausage was present in generous quantity and it lent a good salty and meaty flavor. Two excellent slices, and the sauce was the star in both.
After resisting deep-dish pie for a long time, last year I had an amazing one just south of Chicago at Louisa's. This pie won't make me forget that superb benchmark, but it was expertly rendered and comes with the nice bonus that you can buy it by the slice.
Thumbs up to Berkeley Pizza. I really had no idea that my visit to San Diego would turn up some solid examples of New Haven apizza and Chicago style deep dish.