New pizzeria in Downtown Berkeley to serve custom Roman-style pizzas

David Shapiro/Courtesy

David Shapiro/Courtesy

David Shapiro/Courtesy

David Shapiro/Courtesy

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“Find Your Inner Pizza” — This is something every diner in Berkeley has attempted at some point in time, whether you are trekking to either pole for Zachary’s deep dish or strolling into the Gourmet Ghetto for a few slices from the Cheese Board Collective. No matter how far pizza fanatics have gone to look for find pizza nirvana, those four words are emblazoned on the sign of BUILD Pizzeria Roma, the newest addition to Berkeley’s pizza landscape. Opening on Tuesday, BUILD aims to offer something different from usual college pizza fare — a place where customers have the opportunity to create traditional, customizable Italian-style pizzas.

After being seated, diners are presented with both a menu and a ticket. This golden ticket is the key to your inner pizza. When your design specifications are ready, you take the ticket up to the “Building Department,” where you are faced with a myriad of fresh sauces and seasonal ingredients, many of which are organic or local when possible. From here, you get to, yes, build your own pizza. I built two, one with smoked mozzarella, mushrooms, roasted garlic and anchovies on red sauce and the other with olives, onions, pulled mozzarella and pancetta also with red sauce.

While the pizzas baked in a stone, wood-burning oven, chef Clara Yun fixed a custom salad with cucumbers, beets, pickled onions and olives finished with house vinaigrette. BUILD offers some standard pizza and salad options as well, such as Mediterranean-style pizza or Caesar salad.

In almost no time, the pizzas were finished cooking and delivered to the table steaming, thin-crusted with a nice snap and crunch, tasting subtly charred in a way that can only be achieved in a wood-burning oven. The pizza was quite delicious, with no ingredient overpowering another, allowing for your personal creativity to shine through.

For patrons who are of age, BUILD has a full bar with wines, craft beers on tap and an array of original cocktails conceived by consulting mixologist Scott Beattie. The bar also has a full cocktail menu inspired by Italian tapas.

Owners Lisa Holt and David Shapiro also hope to use the restaurant to expand charitable efforts through the BUILD Pizzeria Foundation. The foundation will focus on environmental and planetary causes, local and community-based areas of concern and organizations that assist in the empowerment of women.

When it comes to pizza, though, “it’s all about choice and your own individuality,” Holt says. And come Tuesday, diners will get to make that choice, but it’s not a difficult one. BUILD Pizzeria Roma’s pizza stands apart from its competitors on Shattuck and deserves a build or two.

BUILD Pizzeria Roma is located at 2286 Shattuck Ave.