Big room, bare brick and plaster walls, their wallpaper removed, looking like wonderful paintings; at opening time (5:30 pm) light streaming in from the street; a row of austerely handsome booths along one wall; rables for four and six set generously apart; a small bar on the right with a fine selection of reds and whites, the rosé not omitted (nor the sparklers either); a spacious open cookiing line that ends at a handsome new pizza oven.
And what comes out of that oven? The best pizzas I've had away from the Café Chez Panisse — not surprising, since the chef-owner of Pizzaiolo cooked there for a number of years. Our pizza was house-made sausage and broccoli rabe, and the flavors were complex, sharp, and deep, nutmeg and other spices standing out in the sausage to extend the flavor of good pork, bitter-earth flavors in the greens. We had a bowl of fish stew: halibut, I think, with clams and mussels, and fennel and onion, and aioli and a piece of grilled levain — Acme, no doubt. The affogato we had as dessert was made with the best coffee I've tasted outside of Venice (Doge) or Rome (Tazza d'Oro), and it was roasted right next door: Blue Bottle.
I'll probably return to Pizzaiolo here on the blog; we'll certainly return to it for dinner. 5008 Telegraph, Oakland; tel. 510.652.4888; open Tuesday-Saturday 5:30-10; www.pizzaiolo.us