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Style Pick | Unit D Pizzeria

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In all narratives, place is essential to the story, and at Unit D Pizzeria in Austin’s Cherrywood neighborhood, this couldn’t be more true. Eric and Shalou Barth have lived in Cherrywood since 2009, settling there shortly after moving from San Francisco. Over the years, the self-proclaimed pizza fanatics missed the Bay Area’s array of artisanal pizza venues, and so they opened Unit D Pizzeria as a way to fill the void.

“The goal was to make something comfortable and not pretentious,” says Eric about the restaurant, which opened in July and aims to nourish Cherrywood’s community spirit.

Previously a meth rehabilitation facility and a day care center amongst other things, the 1950s building, which Shalou described as “dark” and “full of asbestos,” is now a brightened, reimagined space with a philosophy rooted in functionality.

“There are no superfluous gestures here,” Shalou says.

Inside, sparse light fixtures add a soft glow to the dining room’s butterscotch alcoves and pine walls. Eric, a co-founder of A Parallel Architecture who designed the restaurant, also schemed up the communal tabletops made of white oak wood.

Though most of the building was overhauled, the Barth’s did find one design element worthy of inspiration. Prior to Unit D’s reconstruction, the ceiling of the building had rusty diagonal bridging between the joists.

“We riffed off of that and replaced it with woven wood lattice work,” says Shalou. Doing this added compelling interior texture in addition to being sound-diffracting and light filtering. It also created a sense of vertical relief and 3-dimensional depth that defies the building’s low ceiling.

On any given trip to Unit D Pizzeria, patrons are sipping local craft beers or organic, biodynamic wines as golden pies bubble within the Acunto Mario wood-burning oven. Imported from Naples, this hearth is the restaurant’s complete cooking platform, a place where the flavor-driven, handcrafted menu comes to life.

If one thing is certain, Shalou and Eric’s foray into the restaurant industry is refreshingly humble. Unit D Pizzeria isn’t ostentatious or boastful. Rather, the new kid on the Cherrywood block uses simple, quality ingredients to make comforting pizza pies and plates that a community of familiar faces will return for. After much hard work and dedication, the Barths' success shows through in the restaurant’s relaxed, down to earth aura, a quality that embodies the neighborhood’s essential nature.

CREDITS

Photography by Daniel Cavazos

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