Emilia's Pizzeria exterior shot

Ignore the sign above. Emilia's is now open to the public, though in limited capacity. [Photograph: Adam Kuban]

Early last month I had the pleasure of getting an early taste of Emilia's Pizzeria in Berkeley, California. If the pizza I had during that friends-and-family event is any indication of what it is now that Emilia's is in soft open mode, Berkeley residents are in for a treat. The refreshingly unpretentious non-Neapolitan pizzeria started operating in a limited capacity on Monday night. After the jump, Keith Freilich, Emilia's owner-pizzaman explains.

Emilia's Pizzeria

2995 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley CA 94705 (at Ashby Avenue; map); emiliaspizzeria.com
Getting There: By car, it's at the corner of Shattuck and Ashby avenues; closest BART stop is the Ashby Avenue Station
Pizza Style: Thin-crust, New York-coal-oven-esque
Oven Type: A very hot Wolf "Pizza Grande" gas-fired oven
The Skinny: Whether you're a whiny New Yorker looking for familiar-tasting pizza or someone who's never set foot in the Big Apple, the pizza at Emilia's is sure to shut you up and keep you stuffing your face

From an email message I received this morning:

Well, my plan has always been to do a very soft opening and gradually increase capacity and hours and offerings. Not only does it allow me to iron out the kinks while avoiding disasters (in theory), it also gives me the chance to meet the locals who will hopefully become regulars.

And I've already started. I had an almost-secret opening on Monday and did it again last night. Just dinner: slices and large pies, and only 3 kinds: regular, pepperoni, and sopressata. No credit cards yet and nobody to answer the phone yet. And I'm only making very small batches of dough for now—it's too painful to throw out a bunch of dough when you've made it by hand.

I might throw in a lunch tomorrow, depending on how many urgent things I can get done during the day today.

Hear that, people? Don't all mob him at once.

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