Finally it’s open! Zachary’s Pizza is one of those iconic restaurants of the Bay Area, especially for those who attended UC Berkeley. We’ve been calling the Oakland, Berkeley, and San Ramon locations at least a couple times a week for the last month, and Zachary’s in Pleasant Hill is now ready for business!
We got to speak with Leandra, Zachary’s vice president, who was a joy and loaded with information about the new location and its inspiring interior. Every two years Zachary’s holds an art contest for community members to create works to decorate the walls. All of the exposed wood came from The Wooden Duck, featuring planks from the Cal Memorial Stadium bleachers established in 1923. Despite the huge ceilings, sound did not bounce around too much so the ambiance felt quiet, even though the place was packed.
We began with a salad, different from the standards. Called their Spring Salad, it came with mixed spring greens, red grapes, dried cranberries, and Gorgonzola cheese, tossed with shallot vinaigrette and served with bread sticks. The greens and grapes were fresh, the Gorgonzola wasn’t too overpowering but added a subtle sharpness to the plate, and it balanced well with the fruit. The shallot vinaigrette added a nice tanginess and bite to pair with the sweetness of the grapes and dried cranberries. The bread sticks had great flavor – mild with garlic and Parmesan. They provided a good crunch in place of croutons. If you’re looking for a salad that’s a little bit different, this is a good choice.
Now, on to what makes this place famous. Thin crust, vegan crust, and gluten-free crust are options, but if you want a stuffed (aka deep dish) pizza Chicago-style, the menu says to be patient for 30-40 minutes. Believe us, it pays off. What’s nice is the servers keep you updated with the wait time, so you won’t keep checking your phone/watch. The servers also had great teamwork together. We ordered our medium with pepperoni, olives, and mushrooms with the toppings on bottom and the sauce on top, as is tradition (well, you can see that olives are on top, to help make the pie prettier). The cheese is freshly shredded in house, we could tell from the creaminess, and it still has good texture and pull like a mozzarella should. The toppings are balanced really well, and Zach noted that the pepperoni wasn’t as greasy as you find it at your average pizza joint. The tomato sauce was delicious and refreshing, and the dough was flaky and crispy. The pizza was cooked so perfectly, you could have picked it up and it would not have folded – and that’s a feat for a deep dish! But if you’re nervous how to approach it, the servers will serve you your first slice if you like.
A medium stuffed pizza was just too big for us, especially after starting with a salad. We brought over half of it home, but had to do some quick grocery shopping along the way. After 15 minutes of us getting some items, we came back out to the car smelling like the most wonderful pizzeria! Can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow, and the next time we go in!