#50 Pizzaiolo, Oakland, Calif. (Margherita)
Pizzaiolo founder Charlie Hallowell was raised in suburban Connecticut on a modest diet of TV dinners and Chef Boyardee. As Pizzaiolo’s website explains, through some completely unexplainable, miraculous twist of fate, he found himself working in the Chez Panisse kitchen where for the first time he felt completely engaged and enlivened by his job, and the intellectual life that permeated the culture there.
After eight years at Chez Panisse, Hallowell set out on his own, determined at his new pizzeria to make sure that about 98 percent of the time he would buy only locally grown, organic, seasonal meat and produce (the flour is organic flour and milled in Oakland), and from small farmers and ranchers he knows and trusts. Pizzaiolo changes the menu daily to reflect what they’re getting from their people, so it’s a bit harder to nail down a signature pie (they said the margherita is one of their most popular pies), but with ingredients like potato and pancetta, summer squash, shishito peppers, and chanterelles, and add-ons like housemade sausage, Calabrian peppers, and farm egg, you can be pretty sure any of the eight pies on the menu will feature interesting combinations.