BERKELEY -- Like most good stories, the one about the opening this week of Sliver goes far deeper than filling a vacant commercial space on Center Street.

The three men behind Sliver are Oakland-born Guillermo "Willy" Perez, Dwight Ferron, from Jamaica, and Artemio Maldonado, born in Mexico. Between them the trio has a collective 46 years experience at the legendary Cheese Board Pizza Collective in North Berkeley, much of the time working as a team and gaining skills to apply in the new venture.

With Maldonado in charge of procuring high quality, fresh ingredients for their daily vegetarian pizza and salad, and creating their signature dough; Ferron on hand as the master-spinner; and Perez filling in where needed while establishing good relations wherever he goes, the team has a well-established game plan.

"We act like only one person is working, that's why I like these guys," Maldonado said. "We all know our priorities, we don't have to wait; it just gets done."

Just as important, "We listen to each other's views very well and that makes us work together well," Ferron said.

Unwilling to compromise on quality and looking to promote good health, the partners, along with manager Saba Ali, have created a welcoming space with a wood-burning oven and eight pizza ovens providing good food and a full bar serving cocktails, wine and six beers on tap.

Large communal tables ringed by booths provide communal and small-group seating. Monthly displays will feature local artists and live cross-cultural music will rotate daily. "We'll have everything from jazz to Afro-Cuban, folk, Mexican, bluegrass and New Orleans-style," Perez said.


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Support has come from family, friends and vendors with whom relationships were made during the Cheese Board Pizza years, all looking toward helping the men behind Sliver create and follow their goals.

"I've never been an owner and it's a very nice experience," Maldonado said. "I feel like I'm in another world."

For now the vision is clear. "We want to build real community, for people to leave here feeling like not only did they get pizza but they met someone and learned a little more about how modern day slavery is affecting the world," Perez said. "We want them to leave with more than just pizza."

Sliver Pizzeria
Sliver Pizzeria: 2132 Center St., Berkeley, 510-356-4044, www.sliverpizzeria.com. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.