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    Neighborhood Visit: Berkeley’s Elmwood District

    As for San Francisco’s Noe Valley, the Elmwood District in Berkeley seamlessly blends beautiful homes with a village-like commercial area, mostly centered on College Avenue. The stores and restaurants are nearly all small businesses with their own unique charms.

    For some of the Bay Area’s best pizza, head over to Nabolom Bakery & Pizzeria at 2708 Russell Street, just around the corner from College Ave. A few members of our San Francisco Bay Times team continue to rave about it: the flaky and distinctive crust, flavorful herbs, fresh juicy tomatoes and quality generous-portioned cheese, for a start. There is no shortage of delicious pizza in Berkeley, but funky no-frills Nabolom with its vintage kitchen equipment in the windows hits it out of the park. Check the website for Pizza Hours (

    Nearby Sweet Dreams Candy and Gifts, with its old-fashioned candy counter, is a local treasure. Can’t have, or don’t want, sugar? They have an extensive selection of sugar-free treats. You’ll find clothing, books and novelty items galore at this welcoming store located at 2921 College Ave. For kids of all ages there is also Sweet Dreams Toy Store just a few doors down.

    San Francisco has a few Goorin Bros. Hat Shops, and this mighty millinery is well represented in the Elmwood at 2926 College Ave. The hats are very well madeā€”not of the tourist trap variety. Friendly, expert service will get you the perfect look and fit.


    Bill’s Trading Post & Gem Gallery and 2945 College Ave. is a family-owned jewelry store that also stocks an impressive collection of Native American pottery, rugs and baskets. A member of our team gets her watch batteries and bands there. In our all-too-often throwaway society, it is refreshing to have a place that repairs jewelry and helps to extend the life of watches. (Time Masters and Oaks Jewelers on Solano Ave. in Albany both offer even more extensive watch repair services, but that’s for another East Bay neighborhood visit.)