We’re not sure if this is one of the top pizzerias in America, as some of the food media claim, but Apizza Scholls does make a damned delicious pie, putting to bed the trendy theory that only pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven are worth getting excited about. This one’s fired in a good, old-fashioned American pizza oven—but the operators of the oven seem to achieve high enough temperatures for a beautiful sear on the crust.
The accolades have lured a mighty queue of people; you’ll have to wait outside as early as 4:45pm (3:45 on Sundays) if you want to squeeze into the first seating at this no-reservations pizzeria. Who has the time for this? But just when you start to complain that Apizza Scholls has gotten too big for its britches, you taste the pizza.
Keeping it pure and simple, the “Margo-rita” (named for Apizza’s beloved long-time waitress) is excellent: creamy, briny whole-milk mozzarella (fior di latte, not bufala), applied in bright white medallions; and tomatoes that are sweet, sweet, sweet. You might, however, choose to add a few chunks of the irresistible house-made fennel sausage. The half-and-half toppings option is popular, especially with so many exciting ingredients made on the premises (hot capicollo, for instance). House-made bacon appears in long strips on a laudable bianca pie with sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano. Regular pizzas are sized for 2-3 people, but solo diners can get half-pizzas (though you can’t do these half-and-half).
Wait to be seated in the bar, if you can. The mostly good, mostly cheap Italian wine list is good, but here, we prefer beer. This praiseworthy, succinct list could begin and end with Trumer Pils, a crisp Austrian pilsner that goes perfectly with pizza. It’s on tap and, even better, now brewed at a branch in Berkeley, so it’s fresher. Local beer is underrepresented on draft, but hoppy IPA isn’t the greatest match with pizza. Still, there’s plenty of it in the bottle, as well as German wheat beers, and the terrific, fruity Duchesse de Bourgogne.
Service is brusque and distracted—even getting a beer can be an ordeal. And don’t expect the doors to open even 30 seconds early. The space is airy, a bit bright, and tables are missing a certain intimacy. It’s not a romantic spot. The second room is sleeker and a bit sexier, but nobody comes to Scholls for the vibe. They come to meditate on tomatoes, mozzarella, and crust. (After sweating outside for a long while.)
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