I asked our 510 Families Facebook community to tell us who sells the “best pizza in the East Bay”, and the winners were Gioia, Cheeseboard, Zachary's, and Pizzaiolo, which, apparently everyone knows how to spell but me. I just spend 30 seconds matching up my guess at the sequence of vowels with those on the Pizzaiolo website.
People also posted votes for Lanesplitter, Arizmendi, Little Star, Emilia's, and a handful of other East Bay pie-makers; we've never had so many responses to any post in our 510 Families history. Pizza is simply one of the easiest ways to feed one's family.
A couple of weeks ago, my family stopped at Lanesplitter, and, while I'll agree with the majority that slice-for-slice, Gioia, Cheeseboard, Zachary's and Pizziaolo all offer higher quality meals, we had such a great family-friendly experience that I wanted to share it.
The bottom line
I'm cutting right to the chase: For $25, five of us ate pizza. The two adults had salads; the three kids — a five year old and two nearly-eight-year olds — had fruit slices and garlic bread sticks. My husband drank a pint. I was delighted by the value.
Three of Lanesplitter's locations (Emeryville, San Pablo Ave in Berkeley, and Telegraph Ave in Oakland's Temescal District) offer sit-down dining space with a full bar. Emeryville has a chalk board and toy area beneath one of the televisions.
On San Pablo and University, the pub-like atmosphere was a fine place for kids to spill, make noise, or wear soccer cleats on the non-precious flooring. The back patio is fabulous on a sunny afternoon and we took advantage of it.
The kids went right to work with the crayons and worksheets offered to them by our waitstaff.
Of course you can order full pizzas with a variety of toppings that will please any Bay Area pizza lover. Vegan? Gluten-free? No problem.
Lasagna and Calzones are also on the menu.
The meals we chose, however, were Specials that include your choice of a slice (from whatever flavors were available, no limit on toppings) and a salad.
When I described it to Heather, she questioned whether a slice of pizza per adult person is sufficient. I was certainly conscious that I was replacing a typical second slice of pizza with a larger than usual side salad, and that my health would thank me. So perhaps that choice isn't for everyone, but my husband and I were both satisfied.
Since we hadn't ordered a full pie, seconds were not available, and none of the kids asked for them. We asked to have the kids' servings of pizza cut into two narrower slices.
This was a convenient, casual, spontaneous lunch outing, and I plan to do it again.