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Upper Crust Pizza

An artisanal touch lifts high the humble pie.


Cedric Glasier

There’s an array of artists behind every artisanal pizza: A local cheese-maker, an organic farmer, a prosciutto craftsman, an olive oil producer ...

You or I can take all these ingredients and end up with a gooey mess. It’s the pizza-maker, the pizzaiolo, who is the true artist. (But like a shaman, he’ll never admit it.)

Most people credit Oakland’s Pizzaiolo, and its blistered crusts, for sparking the modern pizza revolution eight years ago. Owner Charlie Hallowell’s many prodigies have opened their own parlors—Slicer in Oakland being the most recent. The past year has also debuted Berkeley’s Build Pizzeria Roma, which lets you be the artist, and Desco in Old Oakland, with its stretched schiacciata, a rectangular Neapolitan-style pizza.

At Forge in Danville, chef Jeffrey Amber, formerly of Chow and Gigi in Lafayette, and partner Michael Karp, the brains behind Orinda’s Barbacoa and Table 24, help bring an artisanal flavor to central Contra Costa.

The alchemy begins with the dough: flour, water, salt, olive oil, and the most important ingredient, time. It’s a day or more process to develop Forge’s fragile, floral-tanged, natural-yeast pizza dough. Once shaped and topped, it’s then only three minutes away—in an 800-degree wood-fired oven—from becoming a distinct, imperfect circle of pizza pleasure.  

The cooks here are a winning crew of pizzaiolos, their individual efforts “forged” by that 800-degree flame. That’s what it takes for a busy, modern pizza pub.

345 Railroad Ave., Danville, theforgepizza.com.

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