Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, August 29, 2013

East Bay Bite of the Week: Emilia's Pizzeria

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM

At Emilia's Pizzeria, timing is everthing. The spot is hardly bigger than a pantry, and it's been a favorite among local folks for four years. In the back, Keith Freilich takes phone orders, spins pies, and serves up some of the best pizza in the bay. The thing is, it can be awfully hard to get.

See also: Rustic Pizza Rolls into the Mission

East Bay Bite of the Weed: Eritrean Breakfast at MLK Café

The Year in Food: Pizza Pizza Pizza Pizza

To get your hand on some of the expertly-charred dough, you'll have to man your phone like a cowboy mans his gun, and slip a call in right after 4 p.m. with your order. Freilich only takes orders for same-day pizza, and arranges pick-up times across a precise, minute-to-minute schedule. If you're dead set on dining out, the restaurant's single four top table makes a cozy arrangement, especially if you bring your own wine and cups. Which, you should.

Freilich, a sporadically-trained, verified pizza nerd, boasts an impressive background that points to time at Pizzaiolo, Flour + Water, as well as a stint at Pizza Hut in the 80's and some time at Grimaldi's in New York. He knows what he's doing, and he's had 20 years to hone his style. The pizzas are big ones, clocking in around 18 inches. Wide and flat, they are deemed to be New York Style, featuring a thin but hearty, lightly charred crust.

Toppings are clean, simple, restrained, and fresh. Think soppresata, aleppo, housemade sausage, and cheese from the Emilia region of Italy. Freilich won't divulge much about the cheese he uses or how he makes the fresh sauce, calling it "magician's code." We do know, though, that every pizza gets a dusting of fresh parm right out of the oven. The Margherita pizza and Freilich's soppresata specialty have become winning staples of the place, and make a good place to start.

The no-frills exterior of Emilia's Pizza. - MOLLY GORE
  • Molly Gore
  • The no-frills exterior of Emilia's Pizza.

What makes Freilich's pizza so good is hard to say. There's the novelty of filling orders one-by-one, and the charm of corking your own wine at a plastic table while the only other person in the room, the pizzaiolo, crafts your dinner. And then, of course, there's the pizza. Soft yet crisp, firm but foldable. It's a mastery of balance, texture, and flavor. Berkeleyside recently wrote a lovely comprehensive review of some of the better ones, and Emilia's own website offers a charmingly reductive introduction to the microbusiness and its pizza. On Ashby and Adeline street in South Berkeley, the spot is within striking distance of the BART, and in the beginnings of what's shaping up to to be a mighty fine Indian summer, that's a heck of a good reason to trot over to Berkeley.

Follow @mollywaddle

  • Pin It

About The Author

Molly Gore


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"