We love Pizza and the thought of customizing our own gourmet Roman Style thin crust pizza led us to the new Build Pizzeria Roma. It is located in a Circa 1904 Landmark building on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley near BART. Inspired by Italian Pizzerias with their sense of community Restaurateurs Lisa Holt and David Shapiro have created a lively, friendly and unique environment where you can “Find Your Inner Pizza” by combining fresh local farm to table ingredients, Italian olive oil, cheeses and meats with your choice of crust and sauce.

The open fun contemporary dining room seats 120. It has a large dining area on one side with the “Building Department” where you choose your toppings and crust foundation in the center. There are wood fired ovens in the back where your Pizza bakes in 3 minutes and a fabulous bar area that has black chesterfield sofa booths and three giant TV screens strategically mounted.

We sat near the bar and started out with some excellent Cocktails. The Amaro Vecchio (Bitter Old Man) made with Bourbon, Rye, a blend of Vermouths and bitters was served over a crystal-clear hand cut slow melting ice cube. The Mulo Russo Arrabbiato (Angry Russian Mule) was made with Vodka, fresh lime, ginger, juices, allspice, clove, bitters and fizz. 

Italian Tapas

We ordered Italian Tapas while we enjoyed our Cocktails and planned our Pizzas. The Truffle Arancini Risotto with smoked mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and pesto was a great starter! Next, we ordered full salads. We loved both the Caesar Salad made with baby gem greens, shaved parmesan cheese, white anchovy fillets and house made Caesar dressing and the Insalata Mista made with organic local baby lettuce, golden beets, fennel, orange and house vinaigrette. The Insalata Mista was also very colorful and beautifully presented.


We had a good idea of the toppings we wanted on our Pizza so we headed for the “Building Department”. We chose our Foundations from the options of Rosso, Bianca, Pesto or Gluten Free and toppings from over 30 choices and went back to enjoy another cocktail. For our first Pizza we chose the Rosso base which had sun marzano tomatoes, cold pressed olive oil, wild dried oregano, sea salt, and hand pulled mozzarella. Our topping additions were 100 hour Hickory Smoked Mozzarella, Roasted Mixed Mushrooms, Calabrese Spicy Peppers, Roasted Garlic and Italian 18 month aged Prosciutto Di Parma. For our second Pizza we chose the Bianca white base which had no tomato just cold pressed olive oil, wild dried oregano, sea salt, and hand pulled mozzarella. Our topping additions were Fire Roasted Fontanini Italian Sausage, Baby Arugula, Organic Sonoma County Egg, and Italian shaved Truffles.

Chef Brian Langevin (center) and the “Building Department.”

The Pizzas that we designed were delicious! The flavors and aromas created by the Wood Fired Oven were terrific. We congratulated ourselves for our creativity. For those not inclined to build your own Pizza they offer a Top Ten List with excellent combinations that you can order from the menu or you can even have a hamburger and fries. Chefs Brian Langevin and Chef Clara Yun are also happy to advise you on creating your own pizza and how to avoid bad combinations.

Build’s libations include Beer, Wine and Spirits. The Craft Beers in kegs chosen by Brandon Borgel have fun names like Moose Drool, Buzzerkeley, St. Bernardus and Pranqster. There is an Italian focused wine list by the bottle and glass as well as Northern California Kegged Wines. We enjoyed the light and lively 2011 Tangent Sauvignon Blanc, the full bodied 2011 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon and the rich and bold 2010 Roth Estate Heritage Blend.

Soft Serve Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

The desserts were worthy as well. Both the Strauss Family Organic Soft Serve Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream with a House topping of Valrhoma Fudge and the Budino house made Butterscotch with sea salt and mascarpone cream were perfect. It was really fun to have soft serve ice cream! Illy Double Espressos which had excellent crema were the perfect finish to our fun and flavorful dinner.

Build Pizzeria Roma brings Artisan Pizza to a new level. You will find a fun, creative, healthy, flavorful and reasonably priced dining experience. It is a great addition to Berkeley and we look forward to our next creation!


By Carol & Joe Davis


Build Pizzeria Roma

2286 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft)

Berkeley, CA 94704



Open from 11:30 AM-2:00 AM