Northside pizzeria reopens under new management

Sam Albillo/Staff

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Berkeley Northside pizza restaurant Pizzahhh! reopened Thursday under new ownership.

After purchasing a four-year lease on the location from the restaurant’s original owners in January, new owner Sonam Ngodup and business partner Losang Dorjee spent 10 months working toward reopening the pizza place. Ngodup, born in India, previously spent seven years working in Tibetan food restaurants in New York.

Ngodup originally wanted to open a Tibetan restaurant. He decided, however, to open a pizza restaurant, which he felt would be more popular.

“When I came to America, I had a dream. My dream was to have my own restaurant. … I’m so happy, even though it’s not that busy right now,” Ngodup said.

Ngodup said he decided to move to Berkeley because he felt the weather in New York was too cold. In Berkeley, Ngodup met his girlfriend Kalsang Ngdolma and decided to open a restaurant.

According to Ngdolma, who helps him run the restaurant, the two have always thought about opening a pizza restaurant.

Ngdolma said they initially had a hard time finding the right place to open a restaurant. She and Ngodup wanted to start small and began looking for places around Berkeley. They felt, however, that  many of the available properties were either “too big or too expensive.” After much searching, they finally found their current Northside location.

The location’s proximity to campus and heavy student traffic made it an ideal location for the opening of the restaurant, according to Ngdolma.

“This was a really good neighborhood, close by campus, and I think it’s small and cozy,” Ngdolma said.

After purchasing the location with the aid of Dorjee, Ngodup spent nearly a year fixing the location. During these months, Ngodup learned the restaurant needed inspections and renovations.

The renovations were the hardest part, according to Ngodup. Inspectors told Ngdolma much of the restaurant’s architecture and appliances, like the refrigerator, were too old and would need replacement.

The restaurant, like the Cheese Board Collective and Sliver Pizzeria, serves one type of pizza a day.

“We want to have one pizza a day so it doesn’t get too crazy,” Ngdolma said. “People won’t get tired looking and so many different types of pizza.”

Customer and UC Berkeley geography department manager Josh Mandel said the pizza restaurant was an “excellent” addition to the Northside restaurant scene. Mandel also encouraged people to help out small business owners.

Ngdolma said she and Ngodup hope the restaurant has a good atmosphere for their customers.

“We are fun people. We like to have fun with the customer,” Ngdolma said. “We don’t want them to regret coming here.”

Contact Blake Evans at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Blake_J_Evans.