As a brilliant advertiser once said, “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime … ” Well, with all the pizza available in Berkeley, you can eat pizza any time. In fact, there’s so much pizza in Berkeley that we had to limit our pizza crawl to a certain type of slice–New York style. (Sorry, but that means Zachary’s and Cheeseboard are out.)

Our pizza odyssey begins at Fat Slice. We decide that a slice of pepperoni will be our standard. We also come up with a system for measuring the “grease factor” that consists of us counting the number of napkins through which the grease on a chunk of the given slice permeates. It’s fool-proof–or so we think…

Danica traverses the tiny linoleum wasteland and orders at the grungy counter. Patrici explains how, prior to Danica and Jill’s arrival, the “place was full of gangsters and chollos. Then they drove off in an Escalade with rims.” We sit down in the neon-lit, but still suspiciously dark and dank seating area. The conversation turns to homeless people and porn engineers. Then Danica takes the first bite.

clog-stuff-024.jpgDanica Li: Typical.
Patrici Flores: Fits its price. [$2.75, the lowest we encounter all afternoon.]
Jill Cowan: I detect a hint of rosemary in the crust. Classy. Hey, look! Naked Janis Joplin.

A few bites later, Patrici further explicates her distaste.

PF: You know, it tastes like it smells. But then, I’m hyper-sensitive to smell.
DL and JC: Puzzled looks.
DL: Smells like cleaning supplies. That’s what it smells like.

Fortunately for Fat Slice, its overall rating was raised slightly by the fact that their free water cups are large, and they give you ice. Unfortunately for Fat Slice, its decor was a bit like a dirtier, less colorful version of Blondie’s–which is where we head next.
Grease Factor: 5 napkins
Overall Rating: 4.5/10


We’ve all been to Blondie’s before, given its ridiculous proximity to campus and average prices, but we decide that if we are crawling pizza places, it’s only fair for us to test it objectively. Patrici orders while Danica and Jill stake out a table; a task that is necessary at Blondie’s but, incidentally, not at Fat Slice.

PF: Blondie’s is way less jenky. And the walls have some good reading material.
JC: I think I’m going to try and popularize the word “jenky.”


Despite the fact that a slice at Blondie’s was not as fat as Fat Slice and the crust contained no discernible traces of rosemary, the consensus is that Blondie’s is just better. The menu is also significantly more extensive and there is a trompe l’oeil on the ceiling.

PF: I actually want to eat this. But did we use this many napkins at Fat Slice?

Grease Factor: 4 napkins
Overall Rating: 7/10


We find our third stop, Arinell’s, by chance when we take the perimeter bus to the north side of campus. We’re on the hunt for Bobby G’s, but as we step off the bus we realize that we have a moral obligation to review the pies right before our eyes.

arinells.jpgArinell’s is, by far, the smallest hole-in-the-wall that we’ve visited. Despite the distinctly “Berkeley” vibes being projected by the long-haired stoners behind the counter and the Led Zeppelin playing softly in the background, it is also probably the most New York-y.

Jill orders, and pours a cup of water from the self-serve pitcher on the counter while she waits for their pizza to be toasted. (Plus one point for the toastiness, minus one for the black flecks in the warm water.)

PF: Hey Jill, are you gonna drink that water? Laughs.
JC and DL: Ew…

Once they’ve obtained the pizza…

PF: Look! It’s a perfect triangle. And the pepperoni looks almost as if someone arranged it on there individually.
JC: The guy did, actually. He started out with a piece of cheese and put the pepperoni on before he baked it.
DL: I hate this bench! The pizza’s really thin and crisp, though.
PF: What’s New York supposed to taste like? Hm. There are a lot of children in here.

Grease Factor: 3 Napkins
Overall Rating: 6/10


Our final stop, Bobby G’s, is located a couple blocks away from campus on University Avenue. Upon our arrival at the clean, well-lit pizzeria, we notice that it’s not quite like the others–it serves pitchers of beer, for one thing. Jill orders her slice of pepperoni, and because it’s just 23 cents extra, she orders a Coke, which is served in a glass made of real glass. We sit down to wait for the pizza.bobby-g.jpg

Patrici picks up a napkin.
PF: How are we going to perform the napkin test with these napkins? They’re way too thick. It’ll throw off the results!
DL: Oh my god. Are these flowers real?

The man working the counter brings the pizza over, cradled in a wicker basket.

DL: It’s blackened. It kind of looks like mumps or something…
JC: I think it’s freshly-baked. Wow. That is definitely Hormel pepperoni. I’d know that taste anywhere…
DL: Ow. Ow. It’s steaming. Look!
We look. The surface of the pizza is, indeed, steaming and bubbling with deliciousness. We return to discussing the atmosphere.

bobby-g-3.jpgJC: They’re playing CCR. Oh my god! (David) Beck(ham) kissing babies on flatscreen TV!
DL: I wonder what the “G” in “Bobby G’s” stands for. Oh, I bet it’s Giovanni.
PF: They have Wi-Fi. Impressive.

Grease Factor: N/A, but if we had to guess we’d say 2.
Overall Rating: 9/10

At the end of the afternoon, all three of us agree that we won’t be eating New York style pizza again for quite a while. But when we finally emerge from pizza-eating retirement, we’ll at least know where to go.

Image Source: Jill Cowan, Patrici Flores
Earlier: Crawling Berkeley: Meet Me at the Crossroads

grump said:
Mar 4, 2008 at 8:57 am

Did you include any NY pizza savants in your taste tests? Arinell’s is basically exactly a NY hole-in-the-wall pizzeria. That’s what it’s like – plastic benches, soda in a paper cup, bizarre punch/lemonade fountain. And for us NY expats, Arinell’s is a wonderful respite.

And I don’t think Blondie or Fat Slice are actually “NY Pizza” that is about as “NY Style” as Noah’s (I’ll give you a hint: Noah’s is NOT NY). Just because the food has the same components, does not make it authentic (or tasty).

Justin said:
Mar 5, 2008 at 11:43 pm

You guys did forget to mention that Bobbby G’s is pretty expensive. I remember I ordered a pasta dish from them and it went to around 10 bucks. Granted it was pretty tasty, but I could have gone to Gypsy’s and gotten even more on my plate for less.

I also don’t like going there because they put a “tip” line on your credit card reciept. I’m hardly getting served, and you still ask for a tip? I would go there more often though if it wasn’t so expensive, especially since I live on the same block.

Kristin said:
Mar 13, 2008 at 11:37 am

What about Pie in the Sky on Shattuck and Center? That place is delicious. A slice of cheese is only $2.75 and it is NY pizza with a Jersey Shore twist (a hint of whole wheat in the dough). Plus they have homemade pastries and desserts, a soda fountain, and organic salads. Yum! My favorite place.

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