Bites: What’s new in East Bay food, XX


Mark your calendars for the annual Edible Schoolyard Plant Sale in Berkeley on May 11. Photo: Nancy Rubin

Openings, closings

Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 2.24.55 PMHIVE A new coffee shop called Hive (“the place to bee”) should be open within a month in Oakland’s Dimond district at 2139 MacArthur Blvd. Calanit Kamala, who is opening the spot with Bree Dezort, says they will be serving Highwire coffee and Starter Bakery pastries, as well house-made sandwiches and salads. “We are going to have honey cake as one of our specials, as well as completely vegan honey-lavender-coconut granita,” she adds. Follow Hive on its Facebook page for details of opening day.

zensenZENSEN SUSHI EXPRESS Zensen Sushi Express is moving into the old La Val’s Pizza space at 2516 Durant Ave. in Berkeley’s Telegraph neighborhood. The restaurant is part of a chain of more than 300 restaurants started by Chin-Chou “Stanley” Chen in Taiwan in 1996, and this is his first U.S. location. Zensen Sushi Express is a play on words, meaning “vying for freshness,” according to the company’s website. Watch Zensen’s cute animated series on YouTube called “I Love Sushi.” Read what one mother wrote about Zensen Sushi Express on the blog of Taiwan Radio International.

DOT ISLAND GRILL Just down the street at 2431 Durant in Berkeley, brown paper covers the windows of what will become Dot Island Grill, a restaurant that emphasizes seafood. Patrons can pick whatever type of fish they want — salmon, mahi mahi, tilapia, trout or shrimp, and then add a variety of seasonings. Grilled ribs, chicken and katsu will also be available. No date on when this restaurant will open either. There is another branch in Davis.

Sprouts_Centennial_interiorSPROUTS FARMERS MARKET UC Berkeley is proposing that a Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store move into the space in University Village in Albany that had previously been earmarked by Whole Foods. According to Albany Patch, Cal has selected Oppidan Development to implement the retail portion of the mixed-use project, which includes a proposed Sprouts Farmers Market, described as “a full-service, grocery store that focuses on organic/natural food, fresh produce, great prices and old-fashioned customer service as their anchor tenant.” Whole Foods announced in September that it was pulling out of the Albany plan and confirmed in February that it would build a new outlet at 10th and Gilman in Berkeley instead.

Caffe Venezia (1)CAFFE VENEZIA As reported before on these pages, the 33-year-old Caffe Venezia at 1799 University Ave. in Berkeley is preparing to close. But it’s not curtains just yet. Owner Jeff Wizig phones in to tell us that his last night serving dinner will be June 2. The much-loved restaurant is taking reservations for Mother’s Day and for graduations and is hosting a pop-up evening of music and dinner with well-known local musicians J. Raoul Brody and Zoltan di Bartolo, of Tango no. 9, on Wednesday, May 15, from 6-8 p.m.

naanNAAN N CURRY Naan ‘N’ Curry, a longtime fixture at 2366 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, and a student favorite, shut its doors last week. Sales had gone down 30% over the last three years as more and more “quick serve” restaurants opened on Telegraph, finally forcing the Indian restaurant to close, according to a press release put out by the new Telegraph Restaurant Association. There is no sign on the door announcing the closure, but all the tables and chairs have been moved out.

What else is going on…

top100main-thumbTOP 100 ADDITIONS Three East Bay restaurants have been inducted into the soon-to-be-published San Francisco Chronicle Top 100, according to a sneak peek published by Inside Scoop. The three, part of a group of 21 new additions, are: Comal in Berkeley, Hopscotch and Ramen Shop in Oakland.

TASTE OF NORTH BERKELEY Tuesday May 7, from 6-9 p.m., sees the fourth annual Taste of North Berkeley in the city’s Gourmet Ghetto. A $25 ticket book gets you a taste at each of this year’s stops, which include restaurants and galleries. Among the may participants: Sol y Luna Taqueria, Bistro Liaison, Oggi, Firehouse North, Poulet, Taste of the Himalayas, YogaKula Healing Arts Center, The Local Butcher Shop and Philz Coffee. All proceeds go to Berkeley Lions Community Fund for charitable activities. Benefits Berkeley Food & Housing Project, the Berkeley Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center, McCullum Youth Court, Rebuilding Together, Bay Area Alternative Press, and more.


Tara and Raciel Esperanza, of Tara’s Organic Ice Cream.

TARA’S ICE CREAM Tara and Raciel Esperanza, owners of Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, which has stores in Berkeley and Oakland and sells pints in more than 30 natural grocery stores in California, are hoping to raise $35,000 to purchase a second batch freezer and a designated delivery vehicle and is using crowd-sourcing site Indiegogo to do it. At press time the campaign had just 58 hours left, so head over there if you are interested in supporting them.

EX AD HOC CHEF POP-UP Dave Cruz, who recently left Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc, is planning to open a new restaurant, to be named Miles Restaurant, in the Bay Area. While he plans that, he is holding three pop-up dinners in the coming weeks in Oakland, according to Inside Scoop. The first, “Tasting under the Loft”, will take place on Saturday, May 18 at s+s gastro grub.  It will be a five-course collaboration meal with s+s gastro grub chefs Simone Fung and Sebastian Mendieta. The other two are at the Trappist on June 8 and 9. Details over on Inside Scoop.”


Photo: Nancy Rubin

EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD PLANT SALE The 11th annual Edible Schoolyard Plant Sale is almost upon us. It takes place Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. in Berkeley.  Along with the plethora of plants for sale, there’s wood-fired pizza, food from local chefs, live music, a raffle, and student-led tours. Visit Edible Schoolyard’s website for details.

OLIVETO BIRD DINNERS Stalwart Rockridge restaurant Oliveto has a new pastry chef: Kam Golightly, formerly at Redd in Yountville. Golightly was nominated by Food & Wine as one of the Best New Pastry Chef contenders in 2012. Her desserts will be on the menu for Oliveto’s special 2013 Bird Dinners, which run Tuesday, May 7, through Friday, May 10. Executive chef Jonah Rhodehamel has concocted a menu of birds supplied by small local farmers, and dishes include buttermilk-fried quail with Castelmagno cheese and celery, strozzapreti with cock’s combs and bone marrow, and poached rolata of pheasant with fig mostarda, barley and natural sugo.

Ed’s note: An item published here originally about an event to mark the publication of Michael Pollan’s new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, has been removed because it is not open to the public. Apologies for the error.

Recent Nosh news (in case you missed it):

Pollinate Farm & Garden: A new urban homesteading oasis in Fruitvale
Stroopwafels: Couple confect a chewy, gooey Dutch delight in Oakland
Deliriously panoramic cocktails at The Paragon at the Claremont
Chez Panisse sets new opening date in wake of fire

Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant openings, happenings and closings in the East Bay. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to nosh@berkeleyside.comFollow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Some of these items may first have appeared in Shop Talk, Berkeleyside’s regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. Got a tip for Nosh Bites? Send it to

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • David D.

    Excited to read about the incoming Sprouts. I grew up with them in San Diego (when they were called Henry’s) and am looking forward to shopping there again. I hoped they would consider the University & Acton space vacated by Andronico’s, but University Village isn’t too far away. Too bad Albany is getting this cool grocery store while Berkeley gets stuck with another Whole Foods!

  • Andi

    Love these weekly updates, thanks so much for keeping us up to date with East Bay food happenings :)

  • Andi: Thanks for saying that. They are lots of fun to do, but time-consuming so it’s good to get such positive feedback!

  • Peter Moore

    I’m not sure how you can have a “completely vegan honey lavender coconut granita” as I was under the impression from vegan friends that honey was not vegan

  • Guest

    Maybe because honey is manufactured by bees, not excreted by them? Guess it depends on your definition of ‘vegan’…

  • EBGuy

    Yikes, double deathwatch for the El Cerrito and Berkeley Natural Grocery Companies.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Why Honey is Vegan

    Why Honey is Not Vegan

    The Great Vegan Honey Debate
    “There is no more contentious question in the world of veganism than the one posed by honey. A fierce doctrinal debate over its status has raged for decades; it turns up on almost every community FAQ and remains so ubiquitous and unresolved that radio host Rachel Maddow proposed to ask celebrity vegan Dennis Kucinich about it during last year’s CNN/YouTube presidential debate.”

  • Shawna

    I think EC Natural will be ok since they have the new prepared food annex opening soon and it seems like mostly EC/Richmond Annex locals shopping there. Not sure about the Berkeley store though, since I would personally choose Sprouts over BNG if I lived within biking distance of the two.

  • bingo

    oh, it’s shared here too (and more broadly I assume). it’s such a dynamic food scene in this area.

  • curiousjorge

    This is such a great service to the community. Thanks, Tracey!

  • guest2

    Thanks, Charles. Fascinating.

  • dan

    Any updates on La Fournee which was slated to open months ago across from the Claremont Hotel?

  • We hear it may be opening this month. We are checking in with the owner and will report on it soon.

  • Chris J

    While I have to admit that veganism is probably a healthy eating style, I have rarely found many adherents that weren’t closer to fanaticism and pedagogical views about their chosen eating regimen.

    There are two reasons to be a vegan– health and spiritual. Health is a better argument to me but spiritual? too wavy gravy to my tastes. This argument over bee products is both fascinating, as one said, but more annoying.

  • Chris J

    Yah, a nice place but not convenient for me.

  • Hive, the place to bee

    I suppose to save argument, we can call it “dairy free”, however, in the honey we will be using, it is all loakally sourced and we can attest that no bees were harmed in the making of our granitas! ;)