By Dr. Ink
A chalkboard listing two dozen craft beers at Berkeley Pizza in North Park shows happy hour as a footnote, stating simply that it runs from noon to 7 p.m. every day.
What it doesn’t spell out, even on the website, is that a purchase of any draft beer allows you to score a slice of precious deep-dish pizza stuffed with a choice of ingredients for only $2. Not a bad deal considering these weighty wedges usually cost $4.25 each.
I first encountered Berkeley Pizza several years ago at the Little Italy Mercato before it landed in brick-and-mortar addresses in the Gaslamp Quarter and here. The owner apparently became hooked on deep-dish pizza at one or two pizzerias while attending college in Berkeley, and decided to start slinging the tall-crusted pies in San Diego.
Beer naturally entered into the equation, especially when branching into the most famous beer neighborhood in the nation. Although despite conspicuous high-shelf displays of beer cans from many different brewers, Berkeley doesn’t sell suds in aluminum.
The bartender, a welcoming and affable guy, immediately offered me samples of any tap beer I considered from the impressive lineup. Knowing that Chicago-style pizza — by way of Berkeley — was in my cards, I wanted something light, preferably a pale or blonde ale.
So I asked for a taster of Coast is Clear pale ale by Knee Deep Brewing, but it was too hoppy to pair with food of any kind. The bartender then suggested the Berkeley Pizza blonde ale ($7).
Bingo. It was a little sweet and creamy but without coming off as heavy.
“It’s like Coors Light from a better batch,” the bartender quipped as I reacted favorably to it.
I augmented the suds with a slice of sausage pizza. As deep-dish pizza goes, the cheese and meat reside beneath the sauce, which is mantled generously on top.
This was a good, bright tomato sauce, although the sausage was scant and the well-textured crust wasn’t as buttery compared to the many deep-dish pies I’ve shoveled down in Chicago.
Nevertheless, I would’ve ordered a second slice had I not been faced with dinner plans two hours later.
Berkeley’s North Park atmosphere is comfortably divey, like a hybrid of watering holes from Ocean Beach and some small college town.
The entrance is plastered with posters advertising local concert gigs by alternative bands, and the inside greets with white string lights, a few flat-screen TVs, a “multicade” game box and an intimate bar toward the back.
Clearly, it’s where beer, pizza and hipsters rule the day.