San Francisco, CA

4 Great Places to Get Pepperoni Pizza in the Bay Area

Thomas Smith

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It’s official: the San Francisco Bay Area has some of the most expensive pepperoni pizza in America.

That’s according to the results of a study by financial literacy company Expensify, which looked at the average price of pizza and the density of pizzerias across the United States in order to develop a comprehensive Pizza Index. The average price of a pepperoni pizza in San Francisco proper was $11.67, according to the company. In food-obsessed Berkeley, that price was $12.09. Only Eugene, Oregon topped the Bay Area on pepperoni pizza pricing.

Our high pizza prices are a bit ironic since the Bay Area isn’t exactly known for the overall quality of our pizza. New York and New Jersey usually take the cake (pie?) there. You can get great East Coast food in the Bay Area, but in general, the Northeast does pizza better than we do.

That’s not true of every pizza joint in the Bay Area, though. If you know where to look, you can find some awesome pizza out West. Our best pizza joints tend to take an innovative approach, leaning into the Bay Area tendency towards fancy New American cuisine by topping their pies with unique ingredients and taking a liberal interpretation of the concept of “pepperoni.” That innovation and use of high-quality ingredients may explain why our pies are so pricey, but it also makes for some exciting, unique pizza options.

Here are four places to get a great pepperoni pizza in the Bay Area — even if you have to shell out a lot of dough.

Delarosa

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Delarosa is a fancy Bay Area pizza chain slinging Roman-style pies at their locations in Yerba Buena, the Marina district, and City Center San Ramon. This isn’t your traditional New York pie; Delarosa’s pizzas are thin, brim with fresh ingredients, and feature crispy, often-charred crusts.

At the chain’s cavernous San Ramon location, they’re served in an upscale, lively space with a full bar, open kitchen, and minimalist Italian theming featuring black and white photos and tons of orange everything. Before the pandemic, Delarosa’s diners ate at long, solid-wood community tables. Today, those tables are divided up to facilitate social distancing, but the restaurant’s energetic Roman vibe is very much intact. Eating there, you half expect a tanned, Prada-toting Italian couple to come toddling through the dining room on a Vespa.

You won’t find a traditional pepperoni pizza on Delarosa’s menu. Instead, there’s the Hot Salami pie, which features dry-cured Italian Copa sausage, marinara sauce, and spicy diavolicchio pepper oil. It’s just spicy enough to get your attention and makes a satisfying dinner for one, or a dinner for two if you pair it with any of Delarosa’s excellent starters. (I recommend their meatballs or honey-soaked bruschetta).

Delarosa Pepperoni Pizza Cost: $17

Zachary’s

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Craving a different kind of pizza? Zachary’s sells the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza West of the Rockies. Their pies take forever to cook — budget at least 45 minutes of waiting time if you order one, or call ahead so they can start your pizza cooking before you arrive.

The wait, though, is worth it. Zachary’s deep dish pie oozes with a solid half-inch-thick layer of cheese, nestled right against the crust in true Chicago style. The chain’s delicious, homemade sauce complements the crust and cheese, which tend to melt together as the pizza cooks, forming one artery-clogging, blissful unit.

If you’re looking for a pepperoni pie, you’ll want to build your own and opt for salami or pepperoni as your topping. Another great choice is the Carne pizza, which adds in Italian sausage, traditional pepperoni, salami, and chopped bacon. Zachary’s thin-crust pizzas are great too (and take way less time to arrive), but the restaurant is known for deep dish. Zacharys’ restaurants are decorated with original art from their customers, giving them a casual, community-centered feel.

Zachary’s has locations in Oakland, Berkeley, Pleasant Hill, and a new location in Pleasanton (formerly in San Ramon). Check them if you want a fantastic deep dish and don’t mind waiting a bit for it.

Zachary’s Pepperoni Pizza Price (Medium): $25.20

Slice House

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Are you an East Coast traditionalist? Don’t consider a pizza to be a pizza unless it drips on you as you consume it? Want to fold your slice into a makeshift calzone and eat it while sitting on the couch wearing a sleeveless undershirt and a gold chain? Love to buy a pie so large that you’ll have trouble fitting it in your car? Slice House is for you.

As I’ve shared before, Slice House is my top pick for traditional East Coast pizza in the Bay Area. They’re purists, obsessing over details like the type of flour and water used in their pies in order to ensure that the crust is glutinous and stretchy, the cheese melts just right, and the pepperoni is flavorful and greasy in the perfect way. Slice House is also the only place on my list to call their pepperoni pizza a “pepperoni pizza,” eschewing fancy foodie terms in favor of something more classic.

You can find Slice House on Haight Street in San Francisco, as well as in Walnut Creek and San Leandro. Locations are coming soon to Oakland and Livermore, too. Be warned — their large pie is NYC large, and is enough to feed 2–3 people at least.

Slice House Pepperoni Pizza Price (Medium): $19

Piatti

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Piatti isn’t strictly a pizza joint, but they have some of the best Italian food in the Bay Area, including a killer pizza menu. Modeled on a traditional Italian trattoria, Piatti’s restaurants are warm, welcoming spaces with open kitchens and big, solid stone pizza ovens. I frequent the Piatti in Danville. It’s one of those rare restaurants which is equally suited to a casual weeknight dinner and a big milestone celebration.

For a casual meal (or a low-key celebration), opt for Piatti’s Salami Lover’s pizza. It’s basically an upscale, slightly-spicy pepperoni pie covered to bursting with three types of salami from Zoe’s Salami of Petaluma, as well as olives, chiles, cheese, and tomato sauce. You’ll be hard-pressed to find the pizza under all the tasty salami which covers each pie.

If you’re in more of a traditional mood, Piatti’s can usually make a basic pepperoni pizza for you off-menu. The local chain used to offer a delightful “make you own pizza” option, which allowed your kid to spread sauce, cheese, and toppings on their own smallish pie, which was then baked in Piatti’s oven and returned to them. Sadly, the pandemic nixed that, but hopefully, it will return soon.

Piatti has locations in Mill Valley, Danville, and Santa Clara. Each has a slightly different menu, so check in advance before you arrive expecting to scarf down a tasty, salami-studded pie.

Piatti Pepperoni Pizza Price: $22

The Bay Area might not have as many pizza options as New York, and we might charge more for a pie than many Americans spend on a whole meal. But if you’re willing to find the right place — and to expand your concept of “pepperoni” just a bit — you’ll learn that the Bay Area has tons of great pepperoni pie options, despite the sky-high price tag.

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Thomas Smith is an award winning entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Gado Images. Thomas writes, speaks and consults about artificial intelligence, privacy, food, photography, tech, and the San Francisco Bay Area. As a professional photographer, Thomas' photographic work regularly appears in publications worldwide. Pitches/news tips: tom@gadoimages.com

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