Robert Lauriston ― who once wrote monthly restaurant reviews for the Weekly, and blogged at SFoodie, though only briefly under my editorship ― told Jonathan Kauffman in July that his original notion was to open a place inspired by Una Pizza Napoletana, back when owner Anthony Mangieri spun pies in the East Village.
Locanda da Eva, Lauriston's 2-month-old restaurant in South Berkeley, skews more ambitious than that, on the strength of chef Huw Thornton's skills. Thornton (SPQR, A16) orchestrates a menu that tweaks the Cal-Ital formula in interesting ways, circling wide to scoop up ingredients well off the Oliveto-Delfina road map (see the loose hash of roasted corn and Poblano chile served with pig's trotter croquettes). Still, pizza's an anchor here.
Saturday night, the kitchen produced a specimen blistered and charred like the ones at Pizzaiolo. Toppings of kale, house-cured lardo, and smoked Provolone yielded a pie that registered earthy and a little musky, thanks to the lardo, floating on a smoky ghost whisper you couldn't pinpoint to either cheese or the oven's breath. Only thing that gave pause: the size of the semi-transparent lardo sheets, which had a way of slipping off the crust and sticking to your chin. My husband said it was like slurping moist condoms. Tastier, though.
Locanda da Eva: 2826 Telegraph (at Oregon), Berkeley, 510-665-9601.