2006 Hot Tables
CondÉ Nast Traveler
Pizzaiolo is the best eatery yet to open in Oakland's Temescal neighborhood, which has lately emerged as the southern counterpart to North Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. If Charlie Hallowell, an eight-year veteran of Chez Panisse, served his thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas in a truck stop, there'd still be a line.
But add a hot locale and stylish decor - Hallowell designed the interior himself, teaming up with his father-in-law to construct tables and benches from 120-year-old reclaimed Douglas fir and exposing some of the original brick - and the wait to be seated usually lasts an hour. Not that anyone 's complaining.
His pizzas, artfully scattered with innovative toppings (think arugula salad or truffled brandade), emerge from the 750-degree wood-burning oven blackened at the edges and perfectly chewy. Non-pizza dishes - such as farro with shrimp, arugula, and tomatoes; pork with polenta and broccoli rabe; and clams with homemade sausage, chickpeas, and kale - are equally impressive.