Germany isn’t known for its pizza. I knew this much when I landed in Berlin but I’m a stubborn dude so of course the nine-day visit brought me to more pizzerias than the average Berliner visits in a lifetime. After all, I was only in town because of a pizza box art exhibition I was curating for a Berlin-based online food ordering company. Eating pizza was the least I could do to cover all my bases for this being a business trip (seriously, IRS, it was).
Here’s a breakdown of the ten pizzerias I visited while in Berlin. Most were part of an epic pizza crawl I participated in along with Steph Mantis and my new homeslice/ Berlin pizza blogger Greg. Others were part of a mini-crawl with my buddy Zac, who I met because he was part of a week-long meditation / starvation retreat with my downstairs neighbor in Brooklyn. FOR REAL!
I’ll show you a photo, then I’ll give a recap of that pizzeria…
This is a very cool place with clean decor and a warm vibe. The staff wasn’t too happy that we ordered just two pizzas and tap water, but we were out of their hair pretty quickly so no real harm done. Topping combinations are uncommon, but nothing revolutionary. One pizza we tried had chunks of pumpkin. The crust was pretty decent but only when measured against the other pizzas I tried in Berlin. Ouch.
Pretty cool place with Italians in the kitchen and punk rock posters on the yellow patina-tinted walls. The pizza was extremely salty with a lackluster crust. There wasn’t much going on with this pizza to make me come back, but our resident Berlin pizza spirit guide Greg said he’d had much better pizza there recently and one look at his blog supports his claim. The one saving grace is that they offer horse meat as a topping!
A couple people told me about this place and it turned out to be one of the better spots in town. It’s right next to the Rosenthaler Platz U-Bahn station, so extremely convenient. It’s a slice counter, specializing in Roman pizza al taglio. The pizza itself wasn’t too exciting but it’s a definite go-to slice when you’re in the area. Then again, there’s a good currywurst counter right across the street, so keep that in mind.
Italianness isn’t necessarily the mark of a great pizzeria, but if it were then Ristorante Masaniello would win. It’s been around since 1979 and has a great vibe that’s equal parts kitsch and sincerity. Their menu boasts Pizza Napoletana STG, which means it conforms to the standards agreed upon by the EU to certify pizza made in the authentic fashion. But is the pizza good? Well, it’s certainly not bad. I know that sounds terrible, but I’m trying not to be too judgmental. The Pizza Margherita made with mozzarella di bufala was quite tasty but its low-moisture mozzarella counterpart was bold in its use of salt. That’s probably just from a low quality cheese, but that one small change was enough to convince every person in our group which of these pizzas wins the flavor battle.
Max and Moritz
This place isn’t on any Berlin pizzeria list. They do totally authentic local fare and one of those items is flammkuchen or tarte flambée, an Alsatian dish made of onion and cheese baked on top of a thin crust. Sounds like a pizza, right? This was merely a household food until the pizza craze picked up speed in the 1960s. Since then, it’s essentially considered a style of pizza. The version at Max and Moritz was baked in a pan (as you can see by the ridge) and topped with a generous amount of onion, cheese and ham. This is what you should be eating if you’re into heavily topped pizza. Midwesterners, this means YOU! The crust has a pastry-like airiness and a quick bite. Highly enjoyable!
Standard – Serious Pizza
Templiner Straße 7
Sorry to bury this in the middle of the post, but Standard serves the best pizza I ate in Berlin. I somehow managed to be in town in time for their grand opening party, but if they’re doing this well on the first night I can imagine how good it’s going to be when they tweak a bit. The pizza is straight Neapolitan, baked in a gas-fueled Stefano Ferarra oven in just around two minutes. As the name implies, this is the “standard” for pizza in Naples. Nothing surprising or unique, just a very god Neapolitan pizza. I do remember the tomato being exceptional, so kudos to them on sourcing the good stuff. I have a feeling the pizza at Standard will inspire new heights in quality among new pizzerias in Berlin.
Choriner Straße 72
My buddy Zac and I had just left the opening party at Standard when we bumped into this place. They had a small counter with pizza available so we decided to give it a try since we were already on a pizza high. The pizza looked decent, but Zac and I were a bit unsettled when the staff seemed baffled by our request for a slice to take away. Maybe people order slices more for dine in? Maybe it’s there to satisfy families with children? Regardless, we just wanted a slice to share. Another red flag flew as we waited at least five minutes for them to reheat a single slice. Just as we thought they had completely forgotten about us, someone emerged from the back room with a perfectly warmed slice of Roman pizza al taglio. And it was lovely. This really was one of the best pizzas I ate in Berlin and it was a complete fluke that we even checked it out. As they say, leave no slice unturned.
Ron Telesky – Canadian Pizza
There’s a lot to love about Ron Telesky. First of all, the front of the store looks great. Even though it was freezing the night we went, I appreciated the picnic tables. The moniker “Canadian Pizza” is a bit of a red herring, since no such pizza style really exists and there’s nothing particularly Canadian about it – although there is a moose head mounted on the wall, so perhaps that’s the reference. The name of the place is a nod to that very moose, which was stuffed and mounted by Ron Telesky himself. In fact, their website is just a picture of a moose. But that’s just the beginning of the weirdness.
Any normal pizzeria cuts their pies into an even number of slices. NYC pizzerias do 8 slices per pizza, some do 6, but RT cuts their pizza into seven slices. HOW DO THEY DO IT??? The guy who was working the night we rolled in explained that he measures the crust length of a one-seventh-of-a-pizza slice as “the width of the pizza slicer plus one thumb’s length.” Very weird. They also have funny pizza names, like the NWA (Neapolitano With Anchovies) and the Couchpotatoe (their spelling). They even sell day-old slices for just €1.
As you can see, there’s a lot going on at Ron Telesky’s.The only problem is the pizza. I read a bunch of reviews about them and heard a lot of recommendations about this place but our experience with the pizza was pretty bad. The toppings were funny and inventive, but tasted like my college dining hall’s version of every food they attempted to serve. Devoid of flavor and texture, the food was downright yucky. I would have respected a good crust, but that sadly didn’t come close to reality.
Our first pizza in Berlin was at an indoor mall food court around the corner from the office in which we were working. Just as I ate at Max and Moritz, this meal consisted of an array of flammkuchen (tarte flambée). This was totally different from the version I tried at Max and Moritz; it was much thinner and crunchier with sparser toppings. This was so light I probably ate at least one entire pie by myself. Super tasty and fresh, especially for a shopping mall food stand.
This place is located just a couple blocks east of Tempelhof Park, a decommissioned airport that’s now open to the public for various parky activities. The place is tiny, with maybe enough space for 18 people. We got in right as they opened at 5pm so had no trouble finding a seat. The pizza is sort of Northern Italian in its thinness and brittle texture. They bake in an electric oven for about four minutes and the result was among my favorite in town.