My third day in San Francisco I headed back over to Berkeley for the first stop in a day of hanging out with my East Bay friends. I was meeting my friends who attend Cal for law school for lunch around campus first. I had a couple gluten-free Berkeley ideas from my research before my trip and CREAM had been the only one I checked off when I stayed in Berkeley two nights before for my friend’s wedding. The other places were Zachary’s and Pieology (both pizza places with gluten-free crust) and Tivoli Cafe. I posed these as potential options to my friends for lunch and they decided on Pieology.
It’s pretty easy (and I would say accurate) to call Pieology the “Chipotle of pizza.” There are a couple pizza combinations or themes (called Pieologist’s Favorites) that you can pick if you want, but generally these are custom pizzas made in front of you at a counter with all the toppings displayed. What I liked is that the toppings are all unlimited for the one price (including the meat)!
You start with the crust- house-made regular, house-made whole wheat, or gluten-free. These are all “personal” sizes (although 10-inches is still pretty big). Then you do the sauces. I went for a mix of the house red and olive oil, but you also can do 3-cheese Alfredo, herb butter, fiery buffalo, pesto, or BBQ (or a combination). Cheese-wise there is mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, feta, Gorgonzola, and at some locations Daiya mozzarella vegan cheese. I went for mostly mozzarella with some Gorgonzola and Parmesan on top. For meats they have pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, chicken, spicy chicken, Canadian bacon, and regular bacon. Since toppings are unlimited I went for the pepperoni, sausage, and spicy chicken (should have added bacon though looking back!). Finally there are those veggies, but I certainly wasn’t interested in those! (but there are a wide range of vegetables like olives, mushrooms, onions, corn, etc.).
The pizza is made in an open fire oven behind the cash register. When you pay you’re offered some “afterbakes”, which are basically sauces you can have on top of your pizza or on the side- pesto, BBQ sauce, fiery Buffalo sauce (which I went for), and house red sauce. You get a number and your pizza is brought to you at your table (it took 4-5 minutes or so).
Certainly with a pizza place there is a risk of cross-contamination for gluten. Pieology did a pretty good job of trying to prevent this. The woman making my pizza changed her gloves and they use separate sauces in bottles for gluten-free pizza instead of ladling it out of containers they use for regular pizza. The biggest risk still comes from the shared oven, which is true of all pizza places.
The overall product was pretty solid. The quality of the gluten-free crust is fitting for a fast-casual place. It’s not the most amazing crust I’ve ever had, but it’s not the cardboard-y, limp gluten-free crust that existed a couple years ago. I was a big fan of the unlimited toppings and creating a pizza that matches your taste. The toppings of my pizzas and my friends seemed to all be of good quality. My friends agreed that it was a solid option and a pretty good deal for the price. It was nice the crusts were “personal” size and everyone could get what they wanted.
If you’re looking for a somewhat quick, but not fast food, meal for one then Pieology is a good option when you’re craving pizza. It fits with the Chipotle model and their level of quality. The customization options are very nice. Gluten-frees you have it as an option for a quick pizza. There are locations across the country, but they’re mostly concentrated in California. Take a look if you’re in Berkeley or close to another location.
Pieology- 2468 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704