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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

MELT IN YOUR MOUTH Its tag line is “Yup, It’s just cheese and bread,” but somehow we suspect the way MELT puts those two ingredients together is something special. How about fontina and provolone on garlic bread? Or pepper jack with jalapenos on sourdough? Those are only two of the options at MELT, the brainchild of  Jonathan Kaplan, who founded Flip Video (now sadly defunct). As tipped by Berkeleyside in May, the fifth branch of MELT opened Aug. 6 at 2400 Telegraph Ave., just a few steps away from Sproul Plaza. Customers can order via their smart phones, scan in the QR code when they get to the restaurant, and move to the front of the line for pick up.

Pasta. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME The introduction of the high-concept Comal on Shattuck Avenue seems to be having the effect Berkeley city planners and economic development types hoped for. Diablo Magazine reports that first-time restaurateur Paul Oprescu is planning to open Belli Osteria next door at 2016 Shattuck in October. He is taking over the space that once belonged to Green Papaya and morphed for a brief period in February to Thanu’s Kitchen. Belli will be an affordable osteria serving many different types of pasta and ravioli made on the premises. “Oprescu, a former Montessori teacher who has dabbled in cooking, including interning at the late Eccolo where he learned to make his own charcuterie, says he has more than 150 recipes for raviolis that he plans to rotate into the menu,” writes Diablo. “A couple of examples? How about black squid ink ravioli with seafood or another with seared prawns, gorgonzola, and caramelized shallots in a cream sauce.” Belli will also be open for lunch, serving affordable panini.

WANT SOME CHOW MEIN WITH THAT HOT DOG? Undoubtedly disappointing hoards of hungry high-school students, Peking Express has moved from its Center Street location to 2518C Durant Ave.. The budget Chinese restaurant now resides on the same block as popular student eateries Top Dog and King Pin Donuts. Peking also plays host to a backgammon tournament on the second Saturday of each month, so customers interested in a side of competition with their kung pao chicken can call Ted at (831) 261-4583 to reserve a spot.

Shop Talk is Berkeleyside’s regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses — openings, closings, new directions, relaunches, relocations. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns here.

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