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When Berkeley pizza party staple West Coast Pizza closed its doors last fall, East Bay families let out a collective cry of woe. Where would parents of hungry teens find inexpensive, tasty pizza cut just the right size for sharing?, Nosh readers wrote in to ask. Where would we all get our cheesy sticks?! 

Though West Coast Pizza is no more, of course there are other options to be had. But would teens approve? I asked my own hungry teen — Errol Sloan, a sophomore at Berkeley High — to help taste and rate a cross section of pizza in Berkeley and Oakland, including the new restaurant in the former West Coast Pizza space. We avoided artisanal-style pizza — the kind with, say, foraged mushrooms or grilled cauliflower (though those are delicious!) — in favor of, as one reader mourning West Coast’s closure put it, “pizza places that offer large quantities of good and inexpensive pizza to throw at teenagers.” Crust, sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.

Our rules: order online to carry out; order size large, half cheese/half pepperoni; Errol would rate five categories on a scale of 1-5 (5 being best). I was along for the ride.

Here, our results:

Mountain Mike’s

Unlike many of the pizza spots on our list, Mountain Mike’s still offers a half-and-half option. Credit: Mountain Mike’s/Instagram

4870 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th Street), Oakland
Size: Large, 14”, 14 slices 
Price:  $22.95
Ratings (out of a possible 5)
Cheese: 4
Pepperoni: 4
Sauce: 4 
Crust: 3
Customer service: 4

We managed to luck out at Mountain Mike’s, pricewise, because large pies are 40% off on Tuesdays and that’s when we happened to order. But even without the coupon, Mountain Mike’s was on the lower end of the price scale, at $22.95 for a large half-and-half pie. 

Ordering was super fast and the pizza was ready when we walked in. A tasty pie, though a sweet one. “I think the crust might have sugar in it,” said Errol. The sauce, too. “It’s pretty sweet, if you don’t like savory things that are sweet, you won’t like this,” was the judgement. Then he clarified that he, indeed, likes savory breads.

While the pie wasn’t cut into the cheesy sticks West Coast was famous for, the slices were small, which suited my teen just fine. “If you’re at a party and you just want a little snack, you don’t have to go hunting for a small slice,” Errol said.

I picked up a salad to round out our meal. According to Errol, it had “gross stuff in it,”  like pineapple and jalapeños. Basically, it seemed to have most of the non-meat pizza toppings, which, to be honest, were, indeed, a little gross.

Overall review: Kids will eat it and like it

Nova’s Pizza

A pepperoni pie from Nova’s Pizza. Credit: Nova’s/Instagram

1704 University Ave. (at McGee Avenue), Berkeley
Size: Large, 15”, 12 slices
Price: $18.25
Ratings (out of a possible 5)
Cheese: 5
Pepperoni: n/a
Sauce: 4 
Crust: 3
Customer service: 3

Nova’s, which took over West Coast Pizza’s space, delivered the most affordable pie of the bunch at $18.25 for a large pie. Ordering online was quick and easy, though they don’t have a half-and-half option, so we had to settle for cheese only. 

However, when we arrived to pick up our pizza (we ordered for lunch soon after they opened and arrived at the restaurant a half hour later), preparation hadn’t started. The staff was super apologetic and got to work, offering us a discount for the next time we ordered. Most likely they’re just working out some tech issues as a new-ish business.

Errol gave a huge thumbs up for Nova’s cheese, but didn’t love the crust (but I did). Both the pie and each slice was larger than Mountain Mike’s. At this price, with five star cheese, this one will be a hit with both parents and kids.

Overall review: Least expensive of the bunch. Solid option with tasty cheese.

Domino’s

A cheese pizza from Domino’s. Credit: Domino’s/Instagram

3264 Adeline St. (at Harmon Street), Berkeley
Size: 14” cross-sliced
Price:  $22.59
Ratings (out of a possible 5)
Cheese:  3
Pepperoni: 4
Sauce: 3
Crust: 1
Customer service: 4

It had been years since I’ve tasted a Domino’s pie, but Errol insisted we try it and, indeed, said I was a snob for not jumping at the chance. He’s correct, as always, so I gave in.

And…it’s not bad!

Ordering online was relatively seamless, though I wasted some time trying to find the option to buy a half-and-half pizza. Alas, there is no longer an option to do so! So this time we chose to try pepperoni. Not a bad option, just not what we expected when we set off on our tasting journey.

Errol didn’t enjoy the crust: I accidentally got thin crust and he said it tasted like water crackers. I didn’t love taste/texture of stale oregano but Errol thought the herb dusting was pretty spicy and gave the pepperoni two thumbs up — it didn’t leave a grease pool in your hands. The way the pie is divided — cross-sliced, as opposed to the traditional pizza “triangles” — came the closest we could find to to West Coast Pizza’s famed cheesy sticks.

Overall review: Decent in a pinch.

Nick’s Pizza Bakery & Deli

A spread of pizzas at Nick’s. Credit: Nick’s/Instagram

6400 Shattuck Ave. at Alcatraz Avenue, Oakland
Size: 16”, 8 slices 
Price: $25
Ratings (out of a possible 5)
Cheese: 5
Pepperoni:  n/a
Sauce: 4
Crust: 5
Customer service: 5

We ordered online at Nicks, and got a text when our cheese pie was ready (no half-and-half pizza there, either Update, 1/23/23: Nick’s employee Otis Norton Tsang wrote in to tell us that Nick’s Pizza does in fact offer a half and half pizza, but “due to a printing error, it’s not shown on the paper menu. However, it is an available option both through online and in-person orders.” We apologize for the error!). I was already feeling pretty good about Nick’s as it’s both proudly queer owned and community-minded (they offered free community pizza this past Halloween).

I tried a salad again, a Greek salad that really hit the spot, and was blessedly free of pineapple or jalapeño.

Their pizza is bigger, but with fewer slices and is delicious! It definitely gets Mom’s best score, and the experience, restaurant ambiance and topping options seem way more luxurious for only a little more dosh than the other options. 

According to Errol, “It’s a savory, solid pizza.”

Would he eat this with his friends? I asked. “Yeah, for sure,” came the quick response. 

Overall review: Best, albeit priciest, of the bunch. Good salad, too! Pick up some bagels, cookies and a baguette while you’re there.

Cybelle’s

Cybelle’s meat lovers pizza, for when pepperoni just isn’t enough. Credit: Cybelle’s Montclair

6468 Moraga Ave. (between LaSalle Avenue and Medau Place), Oakland
Price: $22.85
Size: 14”, 10 slices
Ratings (out of a possible 5)
Cheese: 3
Pepperoni:  n/a
Sauce: 3
Crust: 5
Customer service: 5

We ordered ahead at Cybelle’s. When we arrived and were greeted by the friendly staff, our cheese pizza (no half and half here, either) and green salad were ready, right on time.  

Errol dubbed our pizza “a fairly standard cheese pizza with sweeter tomato sauce.” The crust was outstanding, though. According to Errol, though, that crust was “randomly cut,” which was true, as some slices were huge and some a narrow sliver.

I asked him, “Would hungry teens eat it?” The answer was yes. Then he elaborated with, “Hungry teens would eat sewer slime.” So, now he tells me.

Overall review: Tasty, easy option with five-star crust. 

Conclusion: According to a teen, teens would eat any of the above and be happy. Nova’s was the least expensive, Mountain Mike’s makes good pizza but subpar salads, and Nick’s appealed to Mom’s sensibilities without breaking the bank. Finally, a lack of half-and-half offerings plagues the region — a restaurant that advertises that option is in it to win it.