I must first start with a disclaimer. I am originally from New York City so I have a very specific idea of what constitutes the perfect pizza. That is not to say New York has perfected pizza. New Haven, CT has a surprising number of great places, Pepe’s, Sally’s and the Modern to name just three. New Haven, you say? Just read this. And in Boston, Pizzaria Regina in the North End is without a doubt the best the area north of Connecticut has to offer. In order to define the best pizza in Berlin we will be discussing what I consider to be the three main factors in a great pie; crust, sauce, and cheese. Toppings are regional and I will leave it up to the individual preference of the reader to decide what they find appropriate as a topping. Though I will warn you if you order a pepperoni pizza in Berlin you will be shocked to discover your pizza not covered in thin round slices of spicy Italian salami but rather a handful of mild green whole jalapenos. I also find it slightly disturbing that toppings like corn, canned tuna, hollandaise, BBQ sauce, ketchup and hot dogs find their way on top of an otherwise perfectly delightful food.
Berlin had a large influx of Italian immigrants who moved to Germany in the 1960’s to help with the reconstruction process and to take advantage of the employment opportunities and as a result to this day you can find quite authentic and appetizing Italian restaurants. Italian pizza however has a very thin crust and generally that is the standard pizza one finds throughout Germany. One of my favorite simple cheap Italian sqaure-style, thin crust pizza can be found in West Berlin on Uland Str at the intimidatingly named Piccolo Taormina Tavola Calda. Here the food is simple, cheap, and fresh like all good Italian food should be. Berlin’s Turkish population also has their own version of this with a thin crust but a bit crispier than the Italian version.
A great example of this can be found in Kreuzberg at Aldemir on the beautiful Falckensteinstr across from an equally excellent ice cream shop. A few years ago however a lovely Italian restaurant came along called La Focacceria, right off the hip and trendy Kastanien Allee. The secret here is the wonderful focaccia bread which is the base for all their lovely toppings. My one complaint here is that the pizzas are all already laid out with toppings in a cold case and are thrown into the oven by request. This means the toppings are sometimes not as fresh as they could be, though I have never had any stomach issues as a result.
As far as the best sauce in town the award goes to A Magica. This little pizzeria opened a few years ago and has been a hit ever since. It is the perfect pie from crust, to sauce to cheese. I still remember their opening night where they offered guests all the pizza and beer they could eat for free. If I had to imagine what heaven might be like that may well be it. The head chef is an Italian gent by the name of Sebastiano Minniti. He competed in the World Championship of pizza making and is an expert on the spinning of dough. Video can be found on their website but sadly only in German. Prices here are reasonable, most under 10 Euro a pizza. There is limited seating though so if you plan on dining in a reservation is imperative. Berlin’s second best sauce is perhaps the most famous pizzeria(s) in Berlin.
There are three of these, I Due Forni, II Casolare, and II Ritrovo-Cucina Casalinga. They are in Prenzlauerberg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain respectively. They are all anarchist, punk, Italian restaurants and if you are not familiar with the concept once you see the staff and deal with the horrible service you will understand why it has not caught on. The pizza however is amazing. It is a crunchy thin crust, with an almost sweet sauce and a variety of traditional toppings including dried horse meat. The restaurants themselves are all very spacious and ideal for big groups or families. The other chain in Berlin is called the 12 apostles.
They have two locations; one is West Berlin at Savigny Platz, the other in East Berlin both located directly under the S Bahn train tracks. The East Berlin location is right next to Museum Island so it is a great place to go after a long day out at the museums. They are a bit more upscale here but they do offer a great deal on a business lunch. There are of course many more places in Berlin to order pizza but more often than not you will be sorely disappointed by what passed for what I consider to be the most perfect food ever invented. Thankfully for all those veggiephobes living in the US of A, the FDA has decided that tomato sauce counts as a significant portion of your daily vegetable allowance (ignoring that tomato is a fruit). So eat up!