Willow Street Pizza

meter-good+Willow Street Pizza is one of those places I never think of visiting until I’m standing right outside its door. This South Bay mini chain isn’t remarkable in any particular way, but it’s consistently above average and always sends me away satisfied with my choice to eat there. All of the Willow Street restaurants are also dog-friendly, which is a big plus in my book.

One afternoon in November, my wife Shawn and I found ourselves being dragged around Los Gatos by our two pint-sized dogs. We were finished with our primary objective – visiting every interesting shrub and fire hydrant the city had to offer – and so we moved on to locating a place to have lunch. We needed somewhere with outdoor seating, patio heaters, and tolerance of pooches. It didn’t take us long to narrow down our choice to Willow Street Pizza.

As we approached the restaurant, we noticed that there were plenty of open tables on the patio. Excellent. Shawn went inside to speak with the hostess and get us seated… and instead came out with a pager. “It’ll be 20 to 25 minutes” Shawn said, not trying too hard to hide her irritation. I looked around at all the empty tables as if to say, “Are they on crack?” Shawn shrugged. I shrugged. We waited.

Look at all those happy, invisible patrons. No wonder there's a wait.

Look at all those happy, invisible patrons. No wonder there’s a wait.

” I looked around at all the empty tables as if to say, ‘Are they on crack?’ “

20 minutes went by in a flash, with “flash” being defined as the amount of time it takes a set of human buttocks to go completely numb due to sitting on cold bricks while waiting outside a restaurant. Mercifully, the pager went off around then and we were whisked away to a nice, clean table underneath a toasty heat lamp.

Our server swooped by promptly, apologizing for the wait and setting us up with fresh bread. Well, that’s more like it. My Like-O-Meter had been dipping dangerously, but now it was working its way back up to a more reasonable level. I was barely through tearing off a piece of bread when our server stopped by again to take our drink order. Shawn chose a made-to-order ginger ale, and I went for the Shipyard Smashed Blueberry ale featured on the seasonal beverage board.

It was like getting wasted on breakfast muffins.

It was like getting wasted on breakfast muffins.

Actually no, it wasn’t ale… it was a malt beverage. Well it sure tasted like ale, and a good one at that. It had outstanding blueberry flavor, but not in a weird way. And sheesh, 9.0% alcohol? That’s a strong one. While I was engrossed in the flavor of my blueberry malt thing, Shawn ordered us a Gorgonzola salad with cranberries and a pepperoni and olive pizza. Perfect.

Gorgonzola and cranberries go surprisingly well together.

Gorgonzola and cranberries go surprisingly well together.

It didn’t take longs for our food to arrive, and it was very good. That beer though, wow! Yeah, pretty strong.. Big bottle too, 22oz. The gorgonzogla salad was surprisingly good for just being a salad. I mean, it’s a salad right? Who notices things like a salad? but anyway we liked it. And there’s cranberries in it! Oh yeah, that’s in the name. Loving this beer.

Very slightly oily but extremely flavorful. Overall a great pie.

Very slightly oily but extremely flavorful. Overall a great pie.

we got the pizza when I was halfway through my ale. Really tastes like blueberries. no not that I meant the beer. Hey when did the pizza get here? It was fairly shimple but very nicely made, and I’m sure someone made it by hand. real good that pizza with good crust. Man. and this beer still isnt empty. here Shawn you need to take the car keys. WOO has someone turned up the patio heater I think? lol

well we had to wait while to eat but we finally did so great! THe blueberry ale was one of the best salads i’ve had, and the cranberry piza was good with my beer Hey whos dogs are these. i rate Willow Street Pizza pretty good but not acceptional, defently worth going back. omg this ale has BULEBERRIES

Willow Street Pizza
Multiple locations around the Bay Area
Willow Street Wood-Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Willow Street's Los Gatos location is a nice place to be, provided you can get seated.

Willow Street’s Los Gatos location is a nice place to be, provided you can get seated.

Windy City Pizza

meter-great+One of my favorite pizza joints in the San Francisco Bay Area is Windy City Pizza. I’ve been going there for years, but it wasn’t until I actually visited Chicago a while back and had deep dish in its place of origin that I understood exactly how good Windy City is. Their light and fluffy crust perfectly complements the mile-deep layer of toppings you’ll find on one of their signature deep dish offerings, and their sauce is worth braving local commute traffic for.

In utter defiance of the Laws of Melted Cheese, these pizzas are not greasy in the slightest. I literally do not know how they do it… but I don’t really care. The cheese is a perfect bubbly golden brown every time, and totally lacking the coating of bleh one often finds in such circumstances.

Now that's some serious noms.

Pepperoni and olives are the only way to rock a pie.

” It’s enough to make one wish they had four stomachs “

Don’t be fooled by the apparently small size of Windy City’s pizzas – they have a molecular density similar to that of depleted uranium. The large measures in at a measly 14″, but it’s way more food than it looks. One slice is a complete meal for a lot of people, and two slices is more than enough for even the oinkiest pizza gluttons, namely myself. Three slices is roughly equivalent to eating an entire moose – I don’t recommend attempting it.

My wife and I particularly love Windy City, as they offer hard-to-find green olives as one of their available toppings (see above picture and be jealous). They don’t have the very best prices I’ve ever come across, but it’s pretty easy to squeeze three full meals-for-two out of a single pizza; that helps offset the cost a bit. If you’re looking for something a little different than the norm, try their barbecue chicken pizza. If you’re feeling wacky and a little bit gourmet, ask to have pineapple added.

Windy City’s menu also contains a full array of outstanding Texas style BBQ, including pit-smoked pork, ribs, brisket, and chicken to name a few. It’s enough to make one wish they had four stomachs.

Overall, I rate Windy City Pizza an outstanding 34.7 out of a possible 41 Golden Pizza Cutters. Go there. Right. Now.

Windy City Pizza
35 Bovet Road
San Mateo, CA 94402
(650) 591-9457

Windy City Chicago Style Pizza on Urbanspoon


Pizza and barbecue. Enough said.