Bobby G's Pizzeria

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Last week, Robert "Bobby G" Gaustad called us out in a very good-natured, professional manner, that is. Slightly peeved about the Daily Cal's Best of Berkeley selection, we unfairly took our frustrations out on Robert's pizzeria, and Robert wrote us a letter. It would have been easy for him to stoop to our level-Robert's restaurant was on the receiving end of a few jokes-but instead, Bobby G's response was full of pride, asking simply that we take a trip down University Avenue. We did just that on Saturday evening.

Bobby G's Pizzeria is located just west of the intersection where University and Shattuck avenues meet. It certainly isn't far, but it is out of the way of most undergraduate foot traffic. Even so, you can't miss the restaurant's large televisions and bright interior-the hustle and bustle of Bobby G's stands apart from the rest of the neighborhood.

When we entered the pizzeria, we were first struck by the size and scope of the menu. Bobby G's serves a wide range of pizza, panini, pasta, salad, wine and beer. It even has three different kinds of pizza dough-a thick crust Sicilian, a thin crust New York style and a Neapolitan that is used for smaller pizzas. The interior of Bobby G's mirrors the menu. There's a bar, tables and chairs, couches, art covering the walls, sports on TV and even an area where performers can play music. Needless to say, we were a bit overwhelmed at first, but when we met Robert Gaustad, it all made a lot more sense.

He was sitting at the bar, chatting with the restaurant's other co-owner and eating a plate of Caesar salad. It was his first meal of the day, but he was thrilled to take a break from it and talk to us. We immediately got a feel for Robert-a talkative, friendly but incredibly hard-working man. We asked him how many years it took for him to feel confident about his pizza dough, and he responded, "I'm still not. I'm working on the olive oil to flour ratio." Robert clearly pours his life into this restaurant, working nearly every day of the year. His next day off is the Fourth of July.

Bobby G doesn't just work for the sake of working-every ounce of his energy goes into pleasing the restaurant's crowd. We watched him bring a pitcher of beer to a table of graduate students, step into the kitchen to discuss recipes with his cooks and even pick up a harmonica to rock out with the night's blues pianist. Given Robert's intense energy and penchant for pleasing his customers, it's no wonder the pizzeria's menu is so enormous. He told us that he once added a beer to the menu after reading a comment on www.yelp.com. It's fairly obvious why so many people voted Bobby G's "Best Overall Restaurant." There's something for everyone at the restaurant.

There is one thing Robert may never change, no matter how many Yelp requests he gets-his ingredients. He uses whole milk fresh mozzarella, bakes his own foccacia and adds truffle oil to a few of his pizzas. Cooking with these high-quality ingredients, Bobby G churns out dishes that are delicious, albeit not perfect. The pizza crust he bakes has to serve as a blank slate for the plethora of different toppings, but this means that some flavor is compromised in the process. His pan-fried pizzas are interesting and unique, but we're not quite converts just yet. The Caesar salad, however, is fantastic, perhaps the best around. Our favorite part was the dressing, which is mustardy and made with raw egg and anchovies-both a necessity. Don't worry about the raw eggs though. "They're flash pasteurized," Bobby G told us with concern in his eyes, as if worried he might offend or frighten a health-conscious consumer.

Robert Gaustad's restaurant is undoubtedly vibrant. We do not know if we have ever seen a more diverse crowd. It seemed that each group came to his restaurant for something different, yet felt at home there, drinking beer, eating pizza, glancing at the televisions or watching Robert play the harmonica. We had a great time as well, and enjoyed being in the presence of such a passionate individual, yet we're still dedicated members of what Bobby G refers to as the "cult of Cheeseboard." But who knows? If Robert perfects that crust, he just might be able to start a cult of his own. Maybe it will grow to be bigger than Cheeseboard's. If anybody has the work ethic to do it, it's Bobby G.

P.S. This weekend we made brunch for our friends. We fed eight people for less than $15! Check out our menu below, and watch the slideshow for the easy recipes.

Sunday Brunch:

-Orange and Blackberry Fruit Salad

-Bacon, Scallion, and Red Onion Frittata

-Celeriac Potato Pancakes

-Baked Orange Cinnamon French Toast with Strawberries

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Take a day off on the Fourth of July with Maria, Graham and Bobby G at [email protected]



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