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Former PizzaHacker chef opens NY-style pizzeria in Berkeley, earlier than expected

Former PizzaHacker chef opens NY-style pizzeria in Berkeley, earlier than expected
Photo Credit: @stateflourpizza/Instagram
By Wesley Severson - Published on September 21, 2022.

Berkeley just got another spot to pick up a high-quality pizza. In a rare event for new restaurants, State Flour Pizza Company was able to open a few weeks ahead of schedule at 2985 College Avenue near the intersection of Ashby Avenue. Owner Derek Lau, whose past experience includes several well-known restaurants, including PizzaHacker in San Francisco’s Mission District, was hoping to have his new pizzeria open sometime next month. Instead, it ended up opening on September 20th after employee training and limited service over the last few weeks were a success. 

Lau told Berkeleyside last month that State Flour Pizza Company will feature “pizzas inspired by New York City and New Haven, but with gourmet California toppings.” For now, the menu includes six 14-inch New York-style thin crust round pies, including the BLTCEA, which features bacon, arugula, cherry tomatoes, corn, farm egg, garlic, avocado dressing, and mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses. Prices range from $18 to $24. The pizzeria hopes to offer pizza by the slice at some point in late winter. 


BLTCEA Pizza (Without Arugula Left, With Arugula Right). | Photo Credit: @stateflourpizza/Instagram

 

Lau says we can expect the menu to start changing and evolving after about a month, and he plans to start adding 12-inch square pies to the mix very soon. He is also adding ‘off-menu’ pizzas here and there. This week, according to an Instagram post, Lau has been serving a pie called the Hot Henry, which includes pickled Fresno chiles, pickled onion, soppressata, and mascarpone.

Lau has been working for years on his dough-making skills and attributes his past work experience to the flavor and texture of the dough at State Flour. “I learned the most from Jeff [Krupman] at PizzaHacker. I learned a lot about dough production and how to hand pull cheese… Jeff was the first person to really share a lot about his production process with me. My dough will be different than PizzaHacker’s,” Lau told Berkeleyside.

 


Photo Credit: @stateflourpizza/Instagram

 

Lau tells Berkeleyside his goal is for State Flour to have a chic atmosphere that works great for a date night or for a family dinner.

“I lived in Berkeley for seven years off and on; I just love the vibe here, especially a neighborhood where people can bring their families or just come in for pizza and wine,” Lau said.

For now, State Flour Pizza is offering pies and salads for dine-in or take-out Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. The hours are expected to expand as the business starts growing. It’s also important to note that if you’re ordering for take-out, you must place the order in person because State Flour does not yet have a website or phone number.