Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant and bar news in the East Bay. Got a tip or a scoop? Send it our way at firstname.lastname@example.org. Christina Mitchell, founder of East Bay Dish, is the main voice behind Bites, with a little help from the staff at Berkeleyside.
DUENDE Definitely one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year, Duende is officially open for business. Former Oliveto chef Paul Canales is serving regional Spanish cuisine in downtown Oakland, next door to Flora. Eater got a peek at the adjoining bodega with the Spanish wine and sherry expert, Gerard Maristany. There will be Verve Coffee available in the mornings and imported olive oil, along with wine organized by country. Bottles from the bodega can be opened in the restaurant with a $12 corkage fee. Domestic wines, beers and a full bar will be available in the restaurant side of Duende. Duende, 468 19th St., Oakland; 510-893-0174. Bodega: Sunday to Monday and Wednesday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Restaurant and bar: Sunday to Monday and Wednesday to Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m., Friday to Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m.
CAFFE VENEZIA Caffe Venezia, on University Avenue at Grant Street, will close before this summer after 33 years of operation in Berkeley. Owners Jeff Wizig and Roger Feuer are retiring and selling the business, the restaurant’s manager said. A new owner plans to open a restaurant in the space eventually, but the lid is on precisely what it will be. Caffe Venezia, with its charming Venice street scene interior décor — fountains, balconies and washing lines included — has been a much-loved fixture on the local dining scene for generations of Berkeley families. Caffe Venezia’s founder, John Solomon, was the inspiration behind the “How Berkeley Can You Be Parade” that marched along University once a year for 13 years, until it was canceled in 2009. Berkeleyside Nosh will have a fuller report looking at the history of the restaurant and its place in city life soon. [Hat-tip: James Carr]
MONTEREY LIQUORS Monterey Liquors, at 1590 Hopkins St,. is to be reborn as an artisanal liquor and drinks store under the stewardship of Arthur Kinsey, former general manager of next-door’s Gioia Pizzeria, and Ryan Murff, bar manager at Berkeley’s Café Rouge. “We want to cater to the modern cocktail movement,” Kinsey told Berkeleyside. The store will stock local wines, small-craft beers and hard-to-find liquors, Kinsey said, as well as a good selection of bitters. The store is slated to re-open in its new guise — with a new name that is, at this point, “top secret” — on Feb. 1.
HIPPIE GIPSY CAFE The Hippie Gypsy Café, which opened in September 2011 in the Gourmet Ghetto, has closed down. Owner Mary Dirks explained the reason on the café’s Facebook page: “There is a lot of ‘should of, could of, would of’s,’ but what it boils down to is that we just didn’t have enough customers to pay the rent.” The vegetarian and vegan focused Hippie Gypsy Café, which took over the space that used to be occupied by Village Grounds, had customers design their own salads and sandwiches, which were made with Berkeley Bowl produce. Hippie Gypsy was at 1797-A Shattuck Ave., between Francisco and Delaware streets. [Hat-tip: Charles Siegel]
LORING CAFE The Loring Café has opened up in Oakland on Grand Avenue, according to Tablehopper. The menu promises “Bohemian dining” in a casual and enchanting environment that offers “New American” food. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 37 Grand Ave. at Broadway, Oakland; 510-839-3700.
LITTLE STAR Are there too many pizzerias in the East Bay? With the addition of The Star on Grand, apparently not. Little Star owner Jon Guhl applied for a liquor license on Jan. 11. The concept is not exactly clear, but we do know there are two locations in San Francisco, one in Albany and possibly this one coming to Oakland (in the space occupied by Milano Ristorante). Read more on Grub Street. 3425 Grand Ave., Oakland.
PARK BURGER Grub Street also has info about Park Burger, which is expected to open in the former True Value Hardware store in Oakland’s Glenview neighborhood. (Grub Street appears to have gotten the name backwards, however, according to the restaurant’s newly created Facebook page.) 4218 Park Blvd., Oakland.
OGGI Cioccolata Di Vino in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto will become Oggi next week. It will continue to be a café and wine bar. Read more on NOSH. Tuesday to Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday to Saturday, noon to 11 pm. Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. 1801 Shattuck Ave., Suite C, Berkeley.
What else is going on…
RESTAURANT WEEKS Last week, we mentioned Berkeley Restaurant Week, which ends Sunday. Oakland Restaurant Week starts tonight, Jan. 18, and runs through Jan. 27. With more than 40 restaurants offering $20, $30 and $40 prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner, there are lots of opportunities for discounted deliciousness. Some of the menus that look promising are offered at Chop Bar, Bellanico, Encuentro, BayWolf and Nido. Speaking of Nido, along with PieTisserie, they are hosting a grand opening party on Friday and Saturday to kick off Restaurant Week. Expect food and drink specials and a preview of the prix-fixe menu.
TIMELESS COFFEE ROASTERS AND BAKERY Timeless Coffee is also having a grand opening party this weekend. It’s Build Your Own Treat Day, with a free cup of drip coffee with every creation. Start with a chocolate chip cookie, fudge brownie or Twinkie cake, and add toppings such a gummy bears and homemade Oreos. Everything is vegan. Treats will cost $5 to $7. Saturday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
CHEZ PANISSE CAFE Inside Scoop noticed that Chez Panisse Café started offering a new, special late-night menu (along with the regular menu): “$25 for a grassfed steak, fried onion rings, watercress salad and glass of Zin.” Monday to Thursday, beginning at 9:30 p.m. Chez Panisse Café, 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-548-5049.
CANVAS UNDERGROUND & LITTLE SHOP ARTISAN BOX Chef Peter Jackson of Canvas Underground and Maricela Lee of Little Shop Artisan Box are working together on a pop-up dinner (for $40) that sounds kind of like that TV show Chopped. The idea is to take the artisanal food products in the January box (Jerk’n Pickle Jalapeño Beef Jerky, Oren’s Kitchen Coconut Chili Macadamia Nuts, Santipapas Organic Hot Red Salsa, Jenny’s Jars Cranberry Jalapeňo Jam and Barlovento Ghost Pepper Chocolate) and feature them in a five-course meal: Chicory Salad, Winter Citrus, Roasted Almonds, Soy-Balsamic Reduction; Sweet Potato Soup, Curry Leaves, Kefir Lime; Roasted Sturgeon, Green Garlic, Hominy; Crispy Pork Belly Confit, Celery Root Puree, Sautéed Brussel Sprouts; Banana Tart Tatin, Vanilla Lime Crème Fraiche. Friday, Jan. 25, 7-10 p.m. 2147 Broadway, Oakland.
BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN After serving more than 250,000 waffles, Brown Sugar Kitchen celebrated its fifth anniversary Tuesday. Word is chef-owner Tanya Holland and company gave away over 150 red velvet cupcakes throughout the day.
BAY AREA BUTCHERY Ashton Kutcher is the executive producer of a mini-documentary about Bay Area butcher shops. Hey, that rhymes… Kutcher… butcher… nevermind. Berkeley’s own The Local Butcher Shop is featured, along with 4505 Meats and Avedano’s Holly Park Market in San Francisco.
Quick hits and tidbits…
- A new store devoted to hot sauce — Heat Hot Sauce Shop — is to open at 1922 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Berkeleyside Nosh will have the skinny shortly.
- The East Bay Express has news of a new pho spot on San Pablo Avenue, along with several local ramen options. There’s also a review of Punchdown, on Broadway in Oakland, via Ellen Cushing.
- Off the Grid is scheduled to start Friday, Jan. 25, in Oakland from 5-9 p.m. Details here. Visit the Facebook event page.
- Umami burger is reported to have an Oakland branch in the works, set to open in May, according to Grub Street and the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Read an interview with “insta empire builder” Chris Pastena — of Oakland’s Chop Bar, Lungomare, Tribune Tavern and Labna — via Inside Scoop.
- Diablo Magazine offers a “sneak peak” at Forge, set to open in Jack London Square later this month.
- Berkeley bagel maker Dan Graf was featured in the New York Times.
- The Oakland Convention & Visitors Bureau notes openings in Oakland: Camber at 1540 Broadway; Feezy at 1707 Telegraph Avenue; Next Door (TBD); Olde Depot at 464 Third St.; and Township at 1545 Broadway.
- The Food Gal, along with restaurant reviewer Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle and Jonathan Kauffmann, San Francisco editor of Tasting Table, talked about Bay Area restaurants, chefs and dining trends on KQED with Michael Krasny.
Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant and bar openings and closings in the East Bay. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to email@example.com.
Some of these items may first have appeared in Shop Talk, Berkeleyside’s regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, email us with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns here.