Zachary’s Chicago Pizza (Oakland, CA)

5801 College Ave.
Oakland, California 94618
(Three locations in the San Francisco Bay Area)
Phone: (510) 655-6385
Website: www.zacharys.com
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Zachary’s is a Bay Area institution with three locations.  For over 25 years, Zachary’s has been using fresh ingredients to produce made-to-order pizzas with a Chicago spin.

Zachary’s began in 1983, and when the original owners retired in 2003, the three Zachary’s restaurants became employee owned.  Over the years, Zachary’s has been the recipient of no shortage of hype.  In addition to being recommended by both Zagat and the Michelin Guide, Zachary’s has received over 100 best pizza awards.

I’ve visited Zachary’s several times over the last few years.  These visits have been at different times of the year, on different days of the week, and at different times of day.  On each visit, a couple of things have remained constant:  the place has a throng of locals waiting to grab a seat, and the pizza is delicious.

Zachary’s serves two styles of pizza.  One version is a traditional thin crust pizza.  The second, and the one for which Zachary’s is best known, is a stuffed pizza.  Zachary’s stuffed pizza is a deep-dish style that begins with a thin layer of dough that is filled with cheese and your choice of ingredients.  A second thin layer of dough overlays the cheese and fillings, and the pizza is finished off with a zesty topping made with generous chunks of fresh tomatoes.  As the pizza bakes, the top dough layer melts into the ingredients and cheese below, which is intended to seal in the flavors.

On our latest visit, we ordered one of each of the two styles of pizzas available.  We started with a thin crust pizza with jalapenos and pepperoni.   The sauce was fresh and tangy, and the crust was chewy.  The cheese was plentiful and gooey.

Although we enjoyed the thin crust pizza, the real star of our meal was the stuffed pizza. The tomato topping was zesty, with just a hint of spiciness.  The crusts were delicate enough to enhance, rather than distract, from the plentiful filling.  Everything melted together, with the end result being a fresh, cheesy, and tomatoey concoction that is delicious from the first bite of each slice to the last.  You tasted everything in every bite. One word of warning, though, the stuffed pizza is seriously filling, so order wisely.

There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when you visit Zachary’s.  First, the pizzas at Zachary’s take time to prepare.  The stuffed pizzas in particular take 30-40 minutes to cook.  Second, the lines for a table can be long.  When you put your name on the list, you’ll be provided with an estimated wait time.  Once you’ve gotten your wait time, you can head to the counter and order your pizzas, so the kitchen can begin baking your selections.  With any luck, your pizza will be ready shortly after you’re seated, even when the wait is on the long side.  The most important thing to know?  Zachary’s is totally worth the wait.  That is, the hype is well-deserved.

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