BERKELEY, Calif. — BUILD Pizzeria at the corner of Shattuck and Bancroft streets has been a well-received hot spot since opening 15 months ago. The restaurant that offers a sophisticated, modern twist on pizza was forced to shut down for a week after a small kitchen fire broke out on July 26.
General Manager Jonaten Martinez said no one was hurt, but all the appliances had to be replaced. “The fire broke out about 1:30 a.m.on Saturday night and was a result of procedures being improperly followed,” he said, informing us that an employee left a plastic rack on the stove that then caught on fire.
One of the managers was in the office doing paperwork when suddenly the sprinkler system went off. “We later saw him on the cameras running out from the office through all the smoke that had filled the back,” said Martinez. The pizzeria was cleared by the health department and reopened on Friday, Aug. 1. “There was a really great crowd for the re-opening,” said Martinez.
BUILD offers specialty pizzas from the menu but customers can also build their own: They can choose from among two types of crust, six sauces, seven cheeses and 42 toppings.
The owners imported wood-fired pizza ovens from Italy that reach 750 degrees and cook the pizzas in three to five minutes. In addition, they offer soups and pastas — which can also be built or customized.
The menu was formulated by the original head chef, who is no longer with the company, and owners Lisa Holt and David Shapiro, who also designed the interior. Lisa Holt’s background in five star hotel interior design is apparent once walking through the doors. Martinez said, “We try to bring Berkeley into the restaurant,” which features wall-size prints of black-and-white photos from People’s Park in the 1960s.
Sous chef Jonathan Popenuck reaches out to local vendors himself to try and acquire the freshest vegetables possible. “The owners told us that the priority is always freshness, never cost,” he said. BUILD continues to experiment with different ways to draw in the crowds, including offering “Cal Night” where students with IDs can access a special menu at discounted prices. The restaurant also hosts fundraisers for the university. A great deal of growth and success is sure to come for this Berkeley gem.
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