Lunchtime: Pizza @ Arizmendi Bakery, Emeryville

Pizza @ Arizmendi Bakery, Emeryville: Housemade Tomato Sauce, Kalamata Olives, Spinach, Parmesan and Garlic-Herb Oil.

Arizmendi Emeryville lies in the shadow of Pixar Animation Studios, and although the bakery may not provide the ideal venue for a high-level power lunch, it certainly must be a welcome oasis for those who don’t occupy Pixar’s corner offices. And that’s the point, really: Arizmendi Bakery is steeped in the ethos of the everyman, an owner-operated cooperative and a spin-off of the famous Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley. Since its initial launch in 1997, the Arizmendi Bakery has expanded to four locations in the Bay Area, which may give the illusion of rampant franchising. However, each Arizmendi Bakery remains a unique entity in terms of its cooperative ownership (there’s actually no person named Arizmendi behind the scenes; the four bakeries take their common name from José María Arizmendiarrieta, a Basque labor organizer from the last century). As for the pizza itself, the pie at Arizmendi Emeryville is only slightly analogous to that of the Cheese Board, although it certainly boasts a familiar, if not similar, aesthetic (for better or worse, the sourdough crust at Arizmendi seems slightly less crispy than its Cheese Board counterpart). While I do concede that Gioia still remains my favorite slice in the East Bay, if I happened to work at Pixar, I would easily visit Arizmendi once a week, probably even more. In Emeryville, perhaps movie deals are hashed out over pizza.

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