It could be said that Oakland in California is almost a water-logged city. Fronted by San Francisco Bay and backed by Lake Merritt, there's no shortage of H2O in the vicinity, that's for sure. After initially being founded in the mid-1800s, Oakland has developed in leaps and bounds to become the busiest port in the state.
The arrival of maritime traffic brought with it many nationalities looking to get rich during the gold rush era. Some did, some didn't. The ones who didn't settled in the town, creating various neighborhoods with very distinct characters like Chinatown and Adam's Point.
It was a good few decades before Oakland's culinary scene began catching up with the city's rapid growth and the first restaurant with pizza on the menu opened. While pizza didn't make its debut until the early 1980s and just like the city, it underwent several metamorphoses before becoming what is now a staple go-to in Oakland.
The first pie to be served in Oakland over forty years ago was a Chicago-style pizza and they do still appear on the menus of some pizzerias, including ones which have garnered major food awards. The years saw changes though, the introduction of different regional recipes and various types of presentations. As the new style of pies began to emerge Oakland became known for California-style pizza.
California-style pizza is a fusion of traditional Italian thin-crust and the Americanized version of it, New York-style pizza. It's a pie with a big puffy outer edging, but one with a slight dip in the center that keeps all the toppings together making it extra succulent when baked. Another break from Italian authenticity is made by not using Italian tomatoes in the sauce.
On a California-style pie, you'll get a sauce containing one hundred percent homegrown California tomatoes. Why import when there are some of the world's best and tastiest tomatoes right there on your doorstep?
Getting a California-style pizza delivered to where you are in tip-top condition isn't always easy. You want it to still have that same fresh-baked taste it has when it first comes out of the oven. The nature of the crust itself and the generous toppings can amount to a soggy pie if you order from the wrong shop. To ensure your pie arrives perfectly, you'll find the best pizza delivery in Oakland comes from Basil's Pizzeria.
Basil's Pizzeria is a modest premises on 13th Street in Downtown Oakland. It’s more of an Italian-style food stall than a restaurant as it offers counter-service and delivery only. The menu for their artisan pizzas is displayed on chalkboards above the kitchen hatch. No, it's not a posh establishment by any means, but they know exactly how to create a super, tasty, and quite sophisticated pie. La Bomba Calabrese loaded with Calabrian chilies is a pie that's moderately spicy but not too much, so it won't set your mouth on fire.
You'll get the best takeout pizza in Oakland from Arthur Mac's Tap and Snack. The unusual thing is, you may well not want to take it very far. The frontage of Arthur Mac's may not inspire you to go in or its old-fashioned hardwood bench seats encourage you to even contemplate staying awhile, but go out back and you'll soon change your mind.
At the rear of Arthur Mac's Tap and Snack is a cozy beer garden that's lit at night with several fire pits. It wouldn't be a tap without a bar and some beer. At Arthur's, they pour it in style from a bar in a converted shipping container. Sitting there to enjoy one of their classic pizzas is much more fun than getting takeout, even if it is the best take-out in Oakland. Chomp down on one of their hand-stretched pies like the Pesto 2.0 or the Vegan Superstar by the flickering flames and you'll start to wonder why you ever wanted a take-out in the first place.
If you've been in Oakland's Chinatown and taken the wrong turn when leaving, you could easily find yourself driving through the Posey or Webster Street tunnels and on your way to Alameda. Alameda is an island city a short distance from Oakland across San Francisco Bay. If you're not into warship museums or don't want to visit the Crab Cove aquariums, you can grab a great pizza to-go at Mountain Mike's on Central Avenue.
Walnut Creek is a city on the edge of some of California's most impressive national park lands. Around seventeen miles north-east of Oakland, it's an easy place to escape to surrounded by stunning mountains and countryside. Even if you don't drive you can still get there on the Bay Area Rapid Transport system, so there's no excuse for not going weekend hiking in the hills. Need a pizza before you head home again? Stop off at Slice House by Tony Gemignani on Mt Diablo Boulevard and you'll get one made by a world pizza champion.
San Leandro may be famous for one thing, but it's not something that ends up as a topping on the pies produced by the local pizzerias. If you find yourself in San Leandro in June after being at the annual cherry festival, gorging on the stone fruit might not have entirely curbed your appetite. If it hasn't, then getting a pie from Porky's Pizza Palace on Manor Boulevard may well do. Their bacon cheddar cheeseburger pizza will be just the job.
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