Back when I was still a student getting lost in the halls of Dwinelle, I would often hear classmates and professors alike talk about the most fantastic pizza at Zachary’s and Cheeseboard (which I still haven’t been to). I tried Zachary’s deep dish pizza on two occasions with my family after I graduated, but it was not a mind-blowing, toe-curling gastronomic experience. So when I heard about Sliver, the new pizza place darling among Berkeley’s students, I was a little more than skeptical. Nevertheless, I went to try the place with Anne upon Bernice’s insistence.
Sliver, a bright red pizzeria with large floor to ceiling windows that pulls back to the outdoor seating area, neighbors a Japanese izakaya, a fancy Persian restaurant, and a Mediterranean eatery on the busy street leading right up to the university’s main entrance. Groups of students weave in and out of the area, snacking on large slices of cheesy pizza while chatting about midterms, upcoming Cal basketball games, and spring break plans. A slim girl dressed in a black sweatshirt and colorful shoes in loud shades of orange, lime green, and electric blue thunder away at the piano, spinning improvisations off Pachelbel Canon in D before switching into other melodies just as playful and rambunctious. With all the diners trying to speak over the piano, the noise is deafening inside.
Sliver doesn’t carry a menu outside of what’s written on the blackboard hanging above the cash register, so Anne and I order the “half” size pizza of the day to share and a bottle of Mexican coke (which according to Anne is apparently better because it uses real sugar instead of corn syrup). Today’s choice is red and yellow bell peppers with onions, mozzarella, French feta cheese, and green and black Kalamata olive pesto. The pizza came out quickly on sheets of parchment paper lining flat wicker woven baskets. Contrary to having just half of a pie of pizza, there were two extra slices which made for an exceptionally filling lunch.
The first bite is bliss. The congealed mozzarella cheese has a meaty texture that contrasts nicely with the crunchy, sweet bell peppers. Dark salty pesto that looks very much like burnt cheese brings flavor to the milder toppings while crumbly feta gives a creamy touch. Although shiny gleams of grease on pizza will usually put me off, the tiny pockets of rich oil that seeps into the thin, crunchy crust is absolutely mouthwatering. If anything, I feel like I’m eating slices of toasted bread dipped in olive oil rather than a fattening crust. I suspect that a little bit of crushed garlic is used to enhance the aroma for I felt the distinct aftertaste some time afterwards, but each bite is still hearty goodness bursting with flavor. Sliver’s portions are large, and when Anne couldn’t finish her last slice, I ate the remaining.
Pictured above and below is another delicious pizza at Sliver that Bernice happened to have, consisting of broccoli, red bell peppers, mozzarella, Fontina cheese, Italian parsley, and garlic olive oil! Bernice also suggests adding their moreish green spicy cilantro/pesto/serrano pepper sauce to each slice, which is available in a giant condiment bottle dispenser. I didn’t find it on my table, but I shall definitely try it next time!
To conclude, I’m not sure if Sliver is the new Cheeseboard, which everyone around me is saying, but it’s definitely a damn good pizza place. The open atmosphere and the bar counter make it a perfect spot to catch the latest soccer or football game with a cold glass of beer and a slice of cheesy pizza. While I wish there was a little more variety, I’ll definitely head to Sliver when I’m craving pizza next.
2132 Center St
(between Oxford St & West Entrance)
Berkeley, CA 94704