Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses


Italian gelato shop Carravaggio is set to open at 1797 Shattuck Ave. soon. Photo: Tracey Taylor

GELATERIA ITALIANA A new Italian gelato shop called Caravaggio is preparing to open at 1797 Shattuck Ave. (on the other side of the street from Corso, just north of Delaware) in the Hillside Village apartment building. The large space at street level is currently being built out, and the two owners — Mauro Bernocchi and Emiliano Cecchetti — appear to be the real deal in that they are Italian! Otherwise, details are scarce as we wait to hear the scoop from them. Stay tuned.

elburro2 EL BURRO PICANTE The entrance to El Burro Picante, a new Mexican restaurant at 2021 University Ave. near Shattuck, features a gray donkey, a nod to the restaurant’s name. Inside, diners will find a large array of burrito and taco offerings, including eight meat and seven different salsa options, a burrito bowl made with lettuce, not tortillas, and “truck-style” tacos. There are three televisions for the sports- loving crowd and local microbrew beer and wine will be served soon. The owner, Masoud Fany, wants it to be “a hip place to sit down, relax, watch sports and eat great Mexican food.” El Burro Picante opened in early August and a Berkeleyside reader wrote in to declare the food “awesome!” and say there is already a regular following.

telepgaph SAVVY REST NATURAL BEDROOM Michael Penny, a yoga instructor, started The Savvy Sleeper in Charlottesville, Va., in 2003 when he couldn’t get a good night’s sleep. He created a company that manufactured organic latex mattresses that could be customized for individuals’ sleep preferences. Customers can choose the number of layers they want, the types of latex, and the firmness/hardness of each mattress. The company has evolved since then and now also makes organic toppers, pillows, crib mattresses, pet beds and more. In 2011, the company name was changed to Savvy Rest Natural Bedroom and in 2012 it became employee-owned. The company is about to open its fourth retail location, in Telegraph Gardens at 3001 Telegraph Ave. The targeted opening date is September.

dojo DOJO DOG Dojo Dog, one of the three food carts forced to leave its spots by Sproul Plaza because of construction, opened up at a new location on Bancroft and College last week, according to the Daily Californian. The owners, Michael Koh and Jason Chou, said they intend to try to move back to Sproul once construction is complete, but are happy about their new location for now.

Shop Talk is our 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. Check out also our weekly Bites column, which provides food news for the whole East Bay.

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  • Andrew D.

    FYI, I stopped by to see if Brasil Cafe had opened up in the old Brasa spot yet, as tipped here. According to one of the employee’s at the original stand, they were having difficulties with the space, electrical or plumbing issues, and it was unclear when they would be up and running. Any official updates you can get with your street cred would be appreciated.

  • emraguso

    Thanks, Andrew! We’ll see what we can find.

  • suzanneyada

    Just a heads-up: Lots of new eateries in the downtown area have launched (or are planning to) in preparation for school. The Sandwich Shop is open now, in what I think is the old Gelateria Naia spot. The 186 Cafe will be open Thursday as a sliders bar, in the old Green Earth Cafe spot. And the Togo’s is opening too, near the Bart rotunda where All-Star Cafe used to be. But Eureka Burger, where the Peking Express used to be, I think is being delayed for some odd reason or another.

    Sandwiches and burgers, man…

  • suzanneyada

    Aaaaand it looks like many of those have already been covered in the Bites column, not the Shop Talk column…

    I’m hanging up my reporter’s hat.

  • emraguso

    We still love your tips! Don’t stop. :)

  • Foobar

    “Customers can choose the number of layers he or she wants”

    should be

    “A customer [...] he or she”


    “Customers [...] they”

  • David D.

    I’ll have to give El Burro Picante a shot. I come across a lot of highly rated Mexican restaurants here in the East Bay. Unfortunately they’re rated highly by people who clearly haven’t eaten Mexican food in Southern California…

  • Tizzielish

    I swear I walked past the Burrito Picante last week and it looked closed. Do they only open in the evenings?

    I hope the Gelateria Italiana does well. There was a coffeeshop in there before the Hippie Sandwich joint.

    A few days before the Hippie sandwich place opened, walking past, I met the owner coming out. She told me she was investing her life savings. She also told me she had done some training to help poor women start businesses — the training is still offered right here in our city. I wished her well and held my tongue cause I knew there was no way a sandwich shop was going to cover the rent in that gigantic space. It is really big — surprisingly big for a gelateria. I am surprised the building doesn’t divide the space into two stores.

    I hope Gelato takes in enough money to cover its overhead. There are a whole lot of gelato joints and ice cream joints and frozen yogurt joints already in Berkeley. I hope it isn’t just a fantasy that there will be demand for gelato on N. Shattuck.

    There is a gelato place in that food courtyard in the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto. And most restaurants in the Ghetto sell desserts.

    A strange choice, if you ask me, but I very genuinely wish the Gelato joint succeeds.

  • Tizzielish

    I have not eaten any Mexi food in Southern California but I have lived in Mexico.

    One of the most authentic Mexican restaurants on either side of the Bay is Gallardo’s in the Mission in SF. It’s off the beaten track and there are usually only Mexicans in it. The food is like the homemade food the Mexican family I lived with for a year or so served. Gallardo’s, David D, if you are homesick for real Mexican food. In SF, so it doesn’t go with berkeleyside’s mission but it is really special. On Sundays, get the menudo.

  • emraguso

    Thanks — you are correct! We’ve fixed it.