En Garde, Zachary’s!

New upstart gives Rockridge pizza stalwart a run for its, er, dough.


Pat Mazzera

To the casual observer, the sudden arrival of Pennsylvania upstart Jules Thin Crust on College Avenue earlier this year—directly across the street from Zachary’s, the East Bay’s longtime deep dish purveyor—may have seemed like the opening salvo in an all-out war for the hearts and minds of Rockridge pizza connoisseurs. But according to co-owner Heather Clapp, its presence is not intended as a bold challenge to the kingdom of Zach’s.

“Zachary’s is great when you want a deep dish pizza,” says Clapp, who along with her husband, Jeff, and John Ordway and his wife, Jan, helped hatch the Jules concept one night 11 years ago over dinner at Oliveto. Then living in Rockridge, Clapp says they all agreed the nabe “was missing a place that we could get thin crust, organic and affordable.”

From there Ordway, an old boarding school buddy of Jeff Clapp’s, started doing some research that led him to the focaccerias of Rome where he fell in love. With thin crust pizza, that is.

Fast forward a few years and the Ordways find themselves living in Doylestown, Pa. enduring a dearth of family dining options. After having the appropriate aha moment, the pair decide to go whole hog on the Jules (named after their daughter Julia) concept. The Clapps soon followed suit, bringing the concept to California, first in Danville and now Rockridge. And, no, you can’t buy a franchise.

At Jules, the experience begins with a feast for the eyes as wafer-thin rectangular pies teeming with organic, locally sourced toppings are set out on the counter for sale as slices or whole pies. Do as the Romans do.

The ever-so-thin crust allows diners to enjoy a couple of choices, such as the fig jam, gorgonzola, and prosciutto or the pulled pork with locally made barbecue sauce, without getting too full. Jules also offers good ole cheese slices and, of course, one featuring pepperoni. All pizzas can also be made with a gluten-free crust. It goes great with the gluten-free beer on tap. Take that, Zach.

Jules Thin Crust, 5804 College Ave., 510-597-1859, www.julesthincrust.com.

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