Out of this world pizza and beer? Maybe. Jupiter is a restaurant and beerhouse on Shattuck in Berkeley and is extremely popular. Completely packed on a weekend evening, it can be hard to hear yourself think much less have a nice conversation with friends in this European-style ex-stable building from the 1890′s.
I’ve actually been here once before, many years ago, though I remember almost nothing of it (and am hence counting this as my first visit). It’s actually a really cool facility, though it has its flaws. It’s large–the inside area has seating and a bar downstairs and additional seating upstairs. The place extends into an outdoor “backyard” that is terraced and paved and holds a large crowd. The decor is dark wood and high ceilings and it works well for an upscale beer and pizza joint.
The only problems with this place are these: the acoustics inside are such that when the place is full (which is typically is), you can’t hear anything above the roaring sound of other people’s conversations. It’s deafening and prevents any sort of reasonable chatter between you and your friends, especially if you’re with a group of people. Someone mentioned that the upstairs is better for this, which may well be true. Secondly, the outdoor patio does not have this noise problem so much, but it’s outside, so it’s always freezing. Because this is Berkeley and if it’s not cold, it’s still cold. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but how often is there a warm night in Berkeley? Not often.
Normal people (not me) can probably deal with this and enjoy a pizza outside. They do the heat lamp thing, so that would help for said normal people. For me and any other freaks, there is no solution and eating outdoors is banishing us to a fate of chattering teeth. At least the outdoor yard is fully enclosed by the surrounding buildings so that the wind can’t get in very well.
Anyway, those are two items that someone else may not even notice but that are important to me. So there, take what you will.
As for the menu, the selection of pizzas is adequate and creative, there are a variety of appetizers and salads for those who don’t feel like ‘za or want to change it up a bit, and the beer is locally made and a big draw for many people. The hummus plate to share was especially good, and the garlic cheese focaccia was fabulous. The pizzas looked pro though I only got a chance to try the 4 cheese which was good but not great. The other pizzas looked even better though. My salad was well made though for some reason it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I think this was my own fault though and won’t hold it against them that I didn’t read the menu thoroughly before ordering.
The service was good and the prices were reasonable; I can certainly see why this place is popular. Overall, Jupiter has a fun atmosphere, good food selection and quality, and is a fun place for a night out with friends. My only caution is to beware of the acoustics in the downstairs area if you are with people who you actually want to listen to.