Pizzaiolo has long been on my shit list of restaurants. It opened shortly after Mister and I moved. We were excited to frequent a local establishment and loved the pizza oven and its overall style vibe but I, in particular, found the front of house to be a mess. Orders were ill-timed, wine would come late in the dinner, salads after pizza (no, it was not deliberate). The last time we’d been in was two summers ago when I told the waiter I’d walk out if the affogato was going to take more than the 11 minutes he promised. (He came, breathless, with two in 10 minutes. He made them himself because the counter was behind.)
We went back with my mother a few weeks ago to find that the owner is now roaming front of house, which is running so much more smoothly than before that it was a pleasure to be seated and eat. The food was wonderful (though I think we still prefer Jon at Dopo’s style). Charlie, the owner, picks up goodies at the Berkeley Farmers Market, (chef spotting is the new celebrity spotting), and he is charming to observe with customers — very friendly and open. Mister and I both like watching owners circulate in restaurants, checking on customers. It makes the experience more personal because the person reveals his/her stake in the customer’s experience.
Last summer, Pizzaiolo opened up for coffee in the morning. I only made it by once, but Mister and I have been over a couple of times. Love it. Last time, we shared toast and jam while I had an apricot and ricotta pastry. This morning, Mister had toast with aprium jam (from Blue Chair). I tried Brickmaiden Bakery’s granola (I am not a granola lover, but I love Brickmaiden’s) with blackberries, blue berries, sliced white nectarine and St. Benoit yogurt (worth the cost; containers are returnable). This morning we listened to New Orleans jazz (maybe?) and Simon and Garfunkel. They had a reasonable crowd drinking Blue Bottle Coffee and noshing. Some people were reading, others were dinking around on computers, while others were chatting quietly.
I thought it smart that Pizzaiolo opened its doors to a morning crowd as the restaurant is prepping anyway. But more than that, it is smart because it is more integral to the neighborhood. Bakesale Betty is open on Sunday, Pizzaiolo is open in the morning, therefore people have more reasons to come down, say hello, and be part of the Temescal community. 🙂