The beloved Berkeley slice spot has expanded
Gioia Pizzeria may have to change its name.
It was a fitting moniker when Gioia was but a shoe-box slice joint in North Berkeley.
But now that Will and Karen Gioia have expanded--opening a full restaurant in Russian Hill that serves, in addition to pizza, an incredible rigatoni Bolognese ($18) and Five Dot Ranch skirt steak glistening with bagna càuda ($26)--a rebranding might be in order.
Gioia's pizza, justly celebrated in the East Bay, is chewy but pliant enough to fold, and toppings are applied with a light hand. A pepperoni pie is always available, but go now if a pizza topped with slices of raw asparagus and red onion, dotted with ricotta, and showered with Pecorino and fresh mint (pictured; $16 for a small; $27 for a large) sounds appealing: It's a seasonal special.
But don't let the pizza define the experience. It would be a shame to miss the fried squid, broccoli and spring onions ($12), sided by a big dollop of aioli. And your average slice joint doesn't serve spaghetti, here given the classic clams, garlic, chile and white wine treatment.
Should you need another reason to visit, let it be the cannolo ($7), filled to order with sweetened, chocolate-studded ricotta, the fried pastry shell shattering on first bite.
Gioia Pizzeria, 2240 Polk St. (at Green St.); 415-359-0971 or gioiapizzeria.com