Saturday, February 18, 2017


Berkeley, California, February 17, 2017—
EVEN IN NAPLES I think I have never had a better pizza than this. A pizza Margherita, of course; that's my test of pizzas: nothing but flour, olive oil, salt, water, and yeast; tomato, basil, and mozzarella. Red green and white, the Italian colors, so named in the Queen's honor at the moment of Italian unification under the king, with Garibaldi's considersble help.

We were lunching with friends in a storefront eatery we've neglected for years but will, I think, no longer. I began with a delicious bean soup. I suppose it would have been even better with a swirl of olive oil, a leaf of sage, and some black pepper: but it's nice for a change to have a soup like this stripped to its essential, and the purée was just about perfect, silky yet with texture.

But, ah, the pizza! The crust was marvelous, supple at the center, delightfully crisp at the edge. The tomato was rich, forward, and sunny. The mozzarella seemed utterly authentic, and the basil leaves thoughtfully placed, a component, not just a garnish, but not overwhelming the whole — this was a pizza Margherita in perfect balance.

So good that we bought another to take home for supper — this one with housemade fennel sausage, tomato, red onion, and fennel pollen. Delicious.

Pinot noir
Summer Kitchen & Bake Shop, 2944 College Avenue, Berkeley; 510-981-0538

WE STOPPED IN next door for dessert. The ice cream here is as good as it gets anywhere, but I was after an affogato. Made with fine Linea coffee from San Francisco, brewed carefully in a fine little espresso machine, and the house vanilla ice cream, and garnished with crumbled candied orange peel, this affogato is ottimo.

Ici Ice Cream, 2948 College Avenue, Berkeley; 510-665-6054

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

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