Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Pizza Moda aims to open in November.

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM?  The University Avenue restaurant formerly known as Divino (and, before that, Fellini) closed in late summer after receiving mixed reviews from diners on Yelp. With no explanation via Twitter or Facebook, a reader told us, “they shut down and a sign popped up on the windows saying it would reopen in November as Pizza MODA with one of the original Fellini owners.” According to a job listing, posted in late September for a chef at the 75-seat pizza restaurant, Pizza MODA aims high: “think Dopo, Pizzaiolo, Gioia, Boot & Shoe and the café at Chez Panisse. The menu will be built from local, seasonal, fresh ingredients with a focus on uncomplicated and delicious.”

The Good Life Chiropractic: from Oakland to Berkeley

ARTFUL ADJUSTMENTS  What better time than National Chiropractic Health Month to get a peek inside a new Berkeley clinic and art space with more than a decade of history in Oakland? Friday, Oct. 12, The Good Life Chiropractic and The Good Life Gallery will invite in the public from 4-9 p.m. for an open house. Owner Sue Mullen said she decided to relocate her Oakland practice to the neighborhood where she lives: “Now my neighbors can walk to my clinic for the adjustments and walk home.” Her specialties include spinal trauma and extremity rehabilitation. Mullen said she plans to rotate featured artists in the gallery space throughout the year.

Honey Toast at Sheng Kee, San Francisco. Photo: gnaihc (Flickr Creative Commons).

DESSERT ALERT  A popular Bay Area bakery with its roots in Taiwan has plans to open its 12th location later this year in Berkeley, reports the Daily CalSheng Kee could open its doors on Telegraph Avenue in November or early December. The shop will offer French toast, cake and coffee as well as Asian pastries such as moon cakes. The business has been in operation for 40 years and, according to its website, was launched by the family matriarch, Mrs. Kao, to support her family; the name means “For a Living.” Her children later followed in her footsteps. If you’re looking for taro mochi egg yolk pastries, green tea sponge rolls or custard tarts, Sheng Kee may be just the spot you’ve been waiting for. The nearest locations on this side of the Bay, for those who just can’t wait, are in Richmond and Union City.

GET EARTHY  Siamese Dream, home of hippie clothes, sundresses, Chinese slippers and more, has opened a new location in north Berkeley, at 1527 Shattuck Ave. Fairy tutus, embroidered wallets and handmade Nepalese hip belts are among the offerings. The shop also sells jewelry, scarves and hats, and a wide range of other accessories. Learn more on the Siamese Dream website. A reader on Facebook posting on the Siamese Dream page said she was happy with the new location: “I was at the North Berkeley store today for the first time. I bought a few really nice things. I love, love this store and will definitely be back!”

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.

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out All the News.

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  • Jasperette

    Re: “Pizza Moda”: As a neighbor, I would LOVE for the food at this place to be good. On my block alone there are 3 families who have members that work in the higher-end of the food business (Chez Panisse, etc) and we would all love to have a reliable eatery near by. Past iterations have perhaps misjudged the customers/neighborhood and not put enough emphasis on quality of ingredients and preparation.My neighbors know quality, don’t mind paying for it, and have plenty of places to get it if we can’t find it at Acton and University. (though certainly not as conveniently located) I hope the new (old?) owner(s) really will look into organic produce, pastured meats, quality, well priced wines and developing a simple, seasonal menu as it appears they claim to want to do. We WILL know the difference if they don’t walk their talk. Build it and we will come! Pizzaiolo and the Cafe at Chez Panisse are indeed tall orders. Fingers crossed.

  • westie

     I’m in the neighborhood as well, and I would also love for this place to be good.  Right now, I can walk to Paisan in the same time that I can walk to that location, so I need something there to convince me to check it out.  I’m not sure what the fixation on Italian is, though.  A nice casual American place with good soups and salads, or a few other simple classics, is really what I would like to see.  Or perhaps Homeroom needs to open a Berkeley location. Mmmm… a girl can dream.

  • Irisandjules

    I can’t say I am surprised about Divino. I was quite excited for them to open because of the gluten free options. Well, also because the description of the Italian food they promised to make sounded really good. We went once – I ate my first gluten free pizza. The server never even inquired why we, barely, ate two slices of the pie. After several months of recovery from the awful experience, I have tried Mariposa pizza dough and Zachary’s – both are good. 

  • The Sharkey

    Building a restaurant around the desires of 3 families might not be the best business plan.

  • susie

    ooh, I’d love it if pizza moda turns out to be anything like pizzaiolo. I will believe it when I see it though.

  • The Sharkey

    +1 for casual family friendly American with a good selection of microbrew.

    We have a decent microbrewery in Berkeley, but there aren’t a lot of places in town that offer a good selection of craft beers from around the country. If they can get the tap rotation right, they should be able to pull people away from Triple Rock and Jupiter. They should talk to the guys at Beer Revolution in Oakland and City Beer Store in San Francisco for advice.

  • Jasperette

    Well, Sharky, I would be able to understand your concern (faux-cern?) if the 3 families wanted Lambrusco braised zebra and an open-all-night oatmeal bar, but since the 3 families just want quality ingredients and careful preparation, hopefully our “desires” will be shared by others in the nabe. Certainly sub-par quality and service didn’t pan out, so maybe they’ll try something new. Fingers crossed! 

  • Guest

    Good points!  Our family (which lives about a mile away) tried the old Fellini’s a couple if times, but the food was pretty mediocre.  The main reason we stopped coming was that one of the owners was kind of rude to us about our kids and did not give us a very “kid friendly” vibe.  That’s the main reason we stopped eating there.

  • The Sharkey

    Well, at this point, after two stabs at Italian have failed in that location, I think trying something new would be good.

    Having lived near that area before, I think organic grass fed pasture raised gluten free sustainably farmed carbon neutral solar powered nut allergy conscious should probably take a back seat to affordable, casual and family friendly.

    Quality and care are awesome. But as soon as you start saying “My neighbors know quality, don’t mind paying for it, and have plenty of places to get it if we can’t find it at Acton and University.” I wonder why this restaurant should try replicating something that is apparently readily available all over town.

  • Jasperette

    Because if they do, people who want quality and care (and “quality” and “care” can be seen as translating into “organic” and “pastured”) they will go to them instead of getting in their cars. La Mission Tacqueria a few blocks down on University accomplishes this beautifully, and it shows — they are usually very crowded. I think it’s safe to say most people would love to be able to walk to a great place with quality products, and also love supporting neighborhood businesses.  

  • EBGuy

    It’s like you’re all just intentionally ignoring North Beach Pizza in the neighborhood.

  • The Sharkey

    I can see how someone might think that “quality” translated into “organic, pastured”, but “care” doesn’t translate into either. One can exercise care with even the most humble of ingredients.

    You work in the restaurant industry so you probably know better than I do, but when I think about what that neighborhood was like when I lived there I think a focus on simple, affordable, family-friendly fare would do better than trying to focus on an atmosphere tailored for people who “know quality and don’t mind paying for it.”

  • The Sharkey

    From what I remember North Beach Pizza is bad for pizza, but good for scoring weed from the stoned employees who hang out in the back.

  • Biker 94703

    I don’t think you can justifiably say that Fellini “failed” given that they were there for years and had a dedicated following.  Most of my friends nearby were hoping that Divino would would carry the torch.

  • Anonymous

     Stoned people make the best pizza, this is a self-evident truth.

  • The Sharkey

    Good point. I don’t think I ever went there during their heyday and they didn’t really get on my radar until they started falling apart.

  • Guest

     Bobby G’s had a pretty nice beer list from what I remember. Worth checking out.

  • Bill

    The only problem with Bobby G’s is that they showed the debate last week!  Damn, I was hoping to get away from it at a nice sports bar with ggood brews and eats.  Oh well, that’s Berkeley.

  • Bill

    We went to Fellini’s several times and saw it as a good reasonable local place to eat.  We were sorry to see it close and I hope the new pizza place does OK.

  • Bill

    Maybe on the way back from 5 Star!

  • Neil

    Emilie,

    It’s good to see your byline on Berkeleyside.

    Neil

  • Tired

    Red Buffalo Cheasesteaks & Buffalo Wings is officially open now at 2370 Shattuck. I read about it on Berkeleyside when they started the build-out of the space a few months ago.

  • Kamarie

    If you’re gluten-free, a couple other gluten-free pizza options are Red Tomato near MLK and University, Extreme Pizza, and Pizza Rustica in Rockridge.

  • emraguso

    Thanks, Neil!! Glad to be here. 

  • GC

    We live in the neighborhood too, and we’ll give whatever opens there a try!  But I agree, a casual American eatery with sandwiches and microbrew would be great.

  • AlanTobey

     Interesting that their two regional-American headliner dishes originated in the northeast, not on our Foodie Coast.  Probably a better way to attract new customers than just another generic-American place that may offer comfort but not any novelty.  Most of us can do at home ether soup-and-sandwiches or simple red-sauce pasta, but eat out for something different.

  • Jennifer510

    We live a couple blocks away and ate at Fellini’s pretty regularly for a while. Stopped eating there when the food stopped being consistent (never been one to notice the difference in taste of organic and pasture-fed, esp. once food is cooked). Found brunch to be particularly family-friendly, but not dinner. Loved their drink and bring-your-own wine specials. Had a TERRIBLE eating experience at Divino’s (food quality and management-level service), so never went back. Would go back regularly for ANY kind of decent quality, moderately-priced, family-friendly fare. With parking availability, I think appealing to families would make them a real magnet from a larger swathe of Berkeley.

  • Peteena66

    Jasperette, u r so Berkeley (parochial & privileged)!

  • Steven Kimbrough

    pizza moda is now up and running. Great atmosphere, nice staff, becoming consistently great pizza after just a few weeks. We noticed that they now offer a gluten free crust. So they are adding things a little at a time, and focusing being excellent.