Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Pizza Review - Zachary's San Francisco

To continue another occasional feature, and pursue our goal of being the Web's leading authority on all things Pizza, we reprint here in good faith Michael Bauer's review of Zachary's Chicago Pizza in San Francisco

"If you pay attention to hype, Zachary's is by far the finest pizza in the Bay Area. In fact, it's always in the top 50 most popular restaurants in the annual Zagat survey; it has legions of loyal followers and readers emailed me about it more than any other single pizzeria. That must be some pie.
When I walked into the Solano location in Berkeley, I flashed back 40 years to a pizza parlor in my hometown. Its brick walls, storefront window, green tile and kind of dirty brown carpet had a very familiar sensibility, so did the service that was about as friendly as if you were a great customer in a small-town joint.
The pizza place, with three locations -- in Berkeley, Oakland and San Ramon -- was started nearly 25 years ago by Barbara Gabel and Zach Zachowski, who are transferring stock ownership to employees.
If the pizza you grew up with is the one you love, I should have been in heaven with the loads of cheese, tomato sauce and other ingredients that allow the diner to create their own pie.
Type: Chicago style stuffed, and thin-crust Size: Stuffed 10-14 inches ($17.95-$26.25); thin 10-16 inches ($12.45-$24.50).
Oven: Gas-flamed "rotisserie" oven that heats pizza to 500 degrees. Deep dish takes 25 minutes; thin 15.
Crust: The stuffed pizza had a thick crust, almost like dried toasted bread with raw floury underpinning, at least on my visit. The stuffed also has a second crust that's laid on top of the cheese, then covered with a thick layer of chunky tomato sauce. As it bakes, the crust melts into the cheese. The thin crust was crisp, about the size of a double cracker, dusted with semolina flour.
Pizza tried: I chose thin crust with cheese tomato, which was heavy on the oregano and had that generic taste of bottled "pizza sauce" and loads of stringy, gooey mozzarella cheese. In deep dish, the waiter suggested the Zachary's Special with chunky tomatoes glazing generous handfuls of green pepper, sausage and onions. One or two pieces (of the six pieces) definitely is a meal; it's like eating a casserole with your hands.
Other toppings: Just about everything can be placed atop a Zachary's pie: chorizo with Jack cheese and diced green chiles; chicken with mushrooms, basil and garlic; or baked chicken, spinach and part skim mozzarella on a wheat crust (the good health special).
Anything but pizza: There are three salads.
Additions: Each table is set with shakers of dried oregano, Parmesan cheese and red chile flakes. There are 19 additions, from pineapple to pesto.
Vitals: 5801 College Ave. Oakland, (510) 655-6385. 1853 Solano Ave., Berkeley; (510) 525-5950. 3110 Crow Canyon Place, Ste. D, San Ramon; (925) 244-1222.
Open daily from 11 a.m. Takeout available.

Michael Bauer is the Restaurant Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle