There are tons of thin-crust pizza options these days, so how does a pizza restaurant break out from the pack? Add a waterfront view and outdoor patio.
That’s the winning formula for the relatively new Forge Pizza in Oakland’s Jack London Square. The spacious restaurant has outdoor seating equipped with fire pits for the cool bay evenings.
On a Sunday afternoon, I checked out the restaurant with my friend Stephen when we wanted to get some early dinner near the water. Since the patio is primarily covered by umbrellas, it’s a bit hit and miss on whether you get the summer sun shining directly in your face or not.
Still, you could cool off with some of the restaurant’s cocktails. I tried the “high tide” to stay with the water theme, and it was a refreshing mix of gin, tangerine, lime and mint ($9). The bar also serves up several local beer on tap.
An often recommended starter is the crispy cheese curds ($7.50), which is exactly like what it sounds – deep-fried golden brown cheese curds. I saw this during another food event that took me to Forge for dinner, but I can’t say I’ve tried it since I’m not a fan of deep-fried foods.
But I can say I did enjoy the baby octopus ($14) with charred tomato vinaigrette, chili and artichoke. The tomato base gave the dish a Spanish flair, and the octopus (a bit big for a baby) was tender and easy to eat. Stephen enjoyed his arugula salad ($10), which was huge with frisee, radish, croutons, grana – all held together with anchovy lemon vinaigrette.
For the pizzas, there are eight to choose from. We ended up getting the so-called “potato” pizza ($17). I say so-called potato pizza because it was topped with smoked trout, herb salad and horseradish cream. I didn’t feel like this was a pizza highlighting potatoes, but I did like the use of smoked trout (although there was way too much dill for my taste).
I’ve also tried on another time the heirloom tomato pizza ($15), which had a fresh tomato taste looking very summery and using a roasted garlic pesto sauce. The fresh tomatoes can make the pizza watery, which makes it a bit hard for the toppings to stay on the slice.
Side note: The people behind Forge is apparently happy with how things are going with their Oakland baby because there’s already plans to open a Danville version later this month.
The Last Bite
Forge’s Neapolitan-style pizzas have the right amount of blistering from the wood-fire oven. Initially reviews said the crust was sometimes limp, but I didn’t experience that at all. While it’s not crispy thin, it’s definitely like several Neapolitan pizza spots around the Bay. And with a friendly staff and great views, the Forge makes a unique statement in the Bay Area thin crust pizza race.
Forge Pizza, 66 Franklin St. (at Embarcadero in Jack London Square), Oakland. PH: 510.268.3200, Open daily from 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.theforgepizza.com/oakland
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