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I will shamelessly admit that every time I go to the Little Italy Mercato, I snag a sample of Berkeley Pizza. They are there every Saturday morning, selling take and bake pies and giving out bites to taste. There’s always a line, and they usually sell out fairly quickly.

They also have a dine-in shop on Island Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth, a tiny, cozy place where you can grab a slice and a beer, or go whole hog and order a custom pizza. A quick caveat, each whole pizza is made to order, and they are thick, so it takes about an hour to put together and bake. Better to call ahead.

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They also have a pretty darn good special – two slices and a drink for $8, or a beer for $10, dine in only.

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I like ordering slices of Chicago pizza rather than a whole pie because I think it tastes better that way. Sort of like when a roast chicken sits and rests for a while, the flavors seem to blend a bit. Also, it’s quicker, meaning I burn my mouth less often on screaming hot cheese because I’m too hungry to wait another second.

Today, I went with a pepperoni and a spinach mushroom, their signature pie, while John got sausage and pesto garlic. There’s a small but good selection of beer on tap to choose from.

Berkeley’s Chicago deep dish gets its thickness from fillings, sauce and cheese, rather than a fluffy, bready crust. It leans a bit in the pastry crust direction instead, crispy and buttery. Sliced mozzarella is layered directly on the crust, then go on the toppings, more cheese, and finally the sauce and a shower of parmesan. Occasionally the order changes slightly, like most places they put the pepperoni on top of the sauce so that it crisps and browns. A deviation I’m fully in favor of, because who doesn’t love it when the pepperoni is nice and crunchy?

I’d like to pretend that I was dainty and used the knife and fork provided, but I wasn’t. I just picked it up and munched away. Great crust, gooey melted mozzarella, fresh, quality toppings and a bright, tangy-sweet, herby sauce. No leftovers.

Berkeley Pizza also has take out, and delivers to downtown and a few adjacent areas.

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Berkeley Pizza

619 - 937 - 0808

539 Island Avenue

San Diego, CA 92101

Hours:

Mon-Wed, Sun 11 am - 11 pm

Thurs-Sat 11 am - 3 am

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Comments

Siobhan Braun Jan. 29, 2013 @ 2:45 p.m.

Mary Beth, this place sounds great! I can't wait to try it. I have yet to find a pizza place in SD that truly resembles the Chicago style pizza I grew up on.

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