Phoenix Pastaficio opened not long after I arrived in Berkeley. At that time, I would stop in after classes for balls of fresh mozarella - they cost $1 a piece. It would be several years before I got hooked on their olive bread.
The olive bread loaves are dense, irregularly-shaped rounds - baked so dark that they verge on burnt. It's an extreme loaf. The crust is intensely salty and sharp. The olives are purple and meaty. They have a pronounced fruit taste that reminds me of blue berries. The photos here are of a baguette version that they are selling now at the Grand Lake Farmer's Market.
Half the time I went in for olive bread, they wouldn't have it. As near as I could tell they made a handful of loaves a day. The guy who owns the place (his sister is co-owner) would always perform the act of looking through the bread bins for bread that, on some level, I suspect we both knew were simply not there. This was a gamble I was less willing to take when we moved from Berkeley to Oakland.
We recently discovered that a friend of my wife's worked at the Pastaficio - for one day. She was told it probably wouldn't work out, because of her aura.