A hotel development and design group has chosen downtown Berkeley to launch its first restaurant, a high-end Roman-style pizzeria called A90. (Update, Jan. 2013: the restaurant has since been renamed Build.)
A90 will be located at 2286 Shattuck Avenue, on the corner of Bancroft Way. The space was most recently occupied by Indian restaurant Pasand Madras, next door to the recently shuttered Shattuck Down Low music club. Lisa Holt of DLS Hotels & Spas said work has begun on the building and they hope to be open by the spring.
DLS Hotels & Spas, whose projects include Milliken Creek Inn & Spa and Hotel Yountville, plans to replicate the A90 concept in other locations, both around the country and globally.
“Berkeley will be our flagship,” said Lisa Holt who is working on the launch in partnership with David Shapiro and the Rustic Restaurant Company.
Holt said the vision is for a Roman-style pizzeria and bar. “In Rome these are community meeting places serving very thin-crusted pizza,” she said. The restaurant’s name refers both to the ringroad that surrounds Rome and to the fact that Roman-style pizzas can be made quickly, sometimes in 90 seconds. ”They are super fresh and super quick”, Holt, who lived in Italy for several years, said. The restaurant will be sourcing its ingredients locally as much as possible, she added.
As for the choice of Berkeley as a launchpad, Holt says the city’s food heritage made it the perfect location. ”Berkeley is known throughout the world for pioneers like Alice Waters and its food movements. Farm-to-table is part of the Californian consciousness We want to take that to areas of the country that don’t have that knowledge,” she said.
Downtown Berkeley, and Shattuck Avenue in particular, has seen a surge in new restaurants this year, spearheaded by the fashionable Mexican eatery Comal which opened in April. Other relatively new spots, like PIQ Bakery and Café on Shattuck Square and Phil’s Sliders across the street, have developed loyal and substantial clientèles. Italian ravioli specialist Belli Osteria opened next door to Comal at 2016 Shattuck Avenue last month and is garnering good reviews. Lucille Poskanzer, who compiles the Restaurants in the Berkeley Area guide, tells Berkeleyside the food is “delicious and moderately priced, and the noise level low.” And the ravioli? “House made, expertly sauced, and perfectly cooked. It’s definitely worth a try.”
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