Oakland, CA: A Likable Lunch at Dopo
4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611 (map); 510-652-3676; dopoadesso.com
Pizza style: Upscale New York with California toppings
The skinny: These pies have flaws, but they taste good, and that should be the bottom line
Price: Pies, $12-17
I have no bells and whistles to report here. No imported Italian pizzaiolo suckled from birth on milk from the water buffalo he now uses to make his mozzarella. No fancy oven lit with a flame preserved from when Mt. Vesuvius buried Pompeii. Rather, with Dopo, I offer you a little Italian restaurant in Oakland that cooks a few pies daily in their gas-fired deck oven. If Dopo leaves me a bit short on pizza-geek back story and buzz words, the pizza offers some satisfaction, so let me tell you about that.
Neapolitan-inspired pizza tends to be the touchstone for most fancy-ish Italian restaurants in the Bay Area, but Dopo leans more towards New York in its inspirations. Maybe it's because they preceded the Neapolitan-stye craze, or maybe it's just how they roll. Either way, their crust bakes up light and airy inside—almost too airy—while the blond-brown exterior has a pronounced crispness.
The undercarriage of these pies, barely dusted with cornmeal, gets thin enough that slices sag at the tip. You can find flaws with this crust, but it offers a nice buttery flavor, and that counts for a lot.
We found ourselves surprised by our pizza of buffalo mozzarella and oregano because the ostensible accents stole the show. The mozzarella took a back seat to a shower of grated Parmesan, while the the bits of oregano upstaged Dopo's tomato sauce. Still, the combination of herbs and cheese proved anything but bland.
The second pie we tried came with wild mushrooms, arugula, and a deeply orange farm egg at its center. Rather than choosing to create a salad pizza, Dopo cooked the arugula with the rest of the pie, achieving a vegetal, slightly bitter flavor that nicely complemented the earthiness of the mushrooms. Again bedazzled with a dose of grated Parmesan, this pie didn't go for pyrotechnics but still provided pleasure.
During our lunchtime visit, business moved at a steady clip, and at least one pie sat at almost every table. It's no wonder—Dopo's pies taste good enough that you want to eat them, and isn't that the point?
About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. He occasionally gets his tweet on as @pizzakover. He's doing his best to bring Brooklyn-style bagels to San Francisco.