Pizza restaurant Passione Emporio to open in West Berkeley

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Doug Smith/Staff

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A new pizza restaurant, Passione Emporio, is set to open in October on Fifth Street, between Bancroft Avenue and Channing Way in West Berkeley.

This will be Passione Emporio’s first location, but co-owner and co-founder Fabrizio Cercatore also founded Hot Italian, another pizza restaurant with locations in Emeryville and Sacramento. Cercatore added that he ran a restaurant for 17 years in Cinque Terre, Italy with his sister, who co-owns Passione Emporio.

According to Cercatore, Passione Emporio will offer pizza, pasta and gelato, all made in-store, while Hot Italian specializes in pizza. Additionally, Hot Italian serves 12-inch pizzas while Passione Emporio will serve 10-inch pizzas.

“Lunchtime will be more fast and casual, and nighttime you will have a server and you will get to pick your toppings,” Cercatore said. “We will serve pasta as well and beer and wine.”

The restaurant will open at the location of an organic bakery already owned by Cercatore, which makes pizza dough to sell to other restaurants. The opening of Passione Emporio will be an extension of that location, turning it into a full restaurant.

According to Cercatore, the goal of Passione Emporio is to create an “Italian regional food experience,” and the toppings will be regionally inspired. He added that the pasta, pizza dough and focaccia ingredients will all be made from organic grain imported from Utah, Idaho and Colorado.

In addition to lunch and dinner foods, the restaurant will be serving gelato made in the store, and Cercatore said his sister will be making the gelato herself.

Floy Andrews, CEO and co-founder of Coro Coffee Room, a cafe next to Passione Emporio’s future location on Fifth Street, said she is looking forward to the opening of the restaurant.

“I think it’s totally great; I think the two businesses will complement each other so well, and it’s always great to have more activity,” Andrews said. “Plus, they’re both going to be high-end super delicious food but reasonably priced.”

Andrews said she thinks the opening of Passione Emporio will draw more people to the area, making it more of a community.

She added that she hopes that people who like coffee will learn about Passione Emporio from Coro Coffee Room, and people who like pizza will learn about Coro Coffee Room from Passione Emporio.

“You can get really hearty pizza, lunch and dinner, and come over to the cafe and have a really beautifully made latte or espresso or cookie or other snack food,” Andrews said. “We’re open for breakfast so you can get really good breakfast food in the morning and good lunch food at lunch.”

Sri Medicherla covers business and economy. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sri_medicherla.