What’s new in East Bay food, XXXIX

Owner and executive chef Nelson German at the A La Mar restaurant space which he plans to open in early 2014. Photo: A La Mar
Owner and executive chef Nelson German at the space at 100 Grand Ave. where he plans to open alaMar in early 2014. Photo: alaMar

Openings…

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 2.22.09 PMALAMAR KITCHEN & BAR alaMar, which will focus on “sustainable seafood dishes designed to be shared and eaten by hand,” is set to open in Uptown Oakland early in 2014. Owner and executive chef Nelson German, an alum of Supperclub San Francisco who most recently worked in New York, said he has been inspired by his travels to the Mediterranean where he savored “the sheer simplicity of seafood served with a flavorful sauce and a slice of perfectly grilled bread.” The menu at alaMar (which means “to the sea” in Spanish) is likely to include dishes such as Local Dungeness Crab with Ginger Scallion Butter and Lemon Thyme in the winter, and Crawfish with Meyer Lemon Romesco Sauce in the summer. Desserts could be one-biters such as Mini Guinness Fried Ice Cream “Dibs”. For lunch, think rustic artisanal sandwiches like Salt and Pepper Squid Panini and there might be Grilled Cheese Benedict for brunch. Carrie Shores of Larson Shores Architecture is working on an industrial-style decor in homage to Oakland’s status as a port city. alaMar will be at 100 Grand Avenue. Follow its progress on the alaMar Facebook page.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 2.48.48 PMCENTUNO We tipped you about new Jack London Square Italian restaurant Centouno in August. The family-style restaurant, which says it will emphasize Italian comfort food, good value and small plates, is set to open in mid-December in the space formerly occupied by Vietnamese restaurant The Silk Road (corner of Broadway and Embarcadero). Owner/chef Fabio Dalle Vacche helped open Borgo Italia in Old Oakland and has consulted for several restaurants in New York City. His mother, Luigina, has come in to work on the Centouno debut menu and to help create “a homey setting evocative of the feel of her own kitchen back in Italy.” On the menu: dishes like torta fritta (aka gnoccho fritto) and tigelle served with cured meats or cheese;  Bistecca alla Fiorentina (a T-bone steak, cooked to order); Frittelle di Miele (lightly coated, deep fried apple rings with a touch of sugar) and Sorbetto al Limone (refreshing lemon sorbet). The atmosphere in the 1909 historic building on Broadway will be “rustic Old World Italian,” with barn wood accents and earth-tone hues. Centouno will be at 101 Broadway, at the corner of the Embarcadero. Tel: (510) 433-5030.

ALES UNLIMITED A craft beer pub and store called Ales Unlimited has been approved for 1501 Solano Ave. in Albany. The original Ales Unlimited in San Francisco boasts nearly 900 specialty beers. The new Albany location will be its second outlet. Owner Steve Smith said he anticipates about 50% of the business would be retail sales and 50% would be consumption on the premises, according to Albany Patch. Bottled and draft beer will on offer, and the space will include tables and chairs to enjoy the beer with food brought in from Fonda Restaurant next door and other nearby restaurants.

taproomMEAD KITCHEN AT ALBANY TAPROOM Staying in Albany, Mead Kitchen has opened a tap at Albany Taproom. All three of the Berkeley-based company’s meads will be on tap — Orange-Ginger, Simcoe Hops, and Cherry — according to Mead Kitchen co-owner Dan Cook. Mead is a honey-based alcoholic brew that has been part of civilization for thousands of years. Albany Taproom is at 745 San Pablo Ave. (Read Berkeleyside Nosh’s April 2013 feature story about Mead Kitchen.)

philzPHILZ COFFEE As we reported in Shop Talk earlier this week, Philz Coffee is set to open a second Berkeley shop (its first is at 1600 Shattuck Ave. at Cedar) in the Gilman District Project at Ninth and Gilman in West Berkeley that will also house Whole Foods and Office Depot. Matt Holmes from Retail West, who is working with the developers of the project, said they could have chosen any major coffee chain but decided to select “a more artisan and community minded tenant like Philz Coffee.” Philz, which has 14 Bay Area locations, is expanding following a multi-million dollar investment announced earlier this year. More businesses look likely to move in to the Gilman District Project. According to Holmes, they are still looking for a “unique chef-driven fast casual concept” for a 3,100 square foot space in the building, which used to be a bread factory. The new Philz Coffee will be at 1313 Ninth St., Suite 110, near Gilman.

nannaNANNA’S HOUSE A new arrival in Berkeley’s burgeoning CalJulia neighborhood is Nanna’s House, at 2987 Sacramento St. (at Ashby). The take-out restaurant is family-owned and named after owner Vernon’s grandmother. Expect comfort food on the menu like fried chicken, turkey wings, burritos, tacos, burgers (all-beef, turkey, veggie). Sides include greens, fried rice, red beans, mac n’ cheese, and corn. For dessert? Nanna’s tea cakes, cobbler, and ice cream. “Eats and treats just like Nanna made,” said Vernon. The family also owns the Virje Designs clothing store next door.

CUGINI MANZONE Giuseppe Manzone, along with his brother Michele and sister-in-law Leslie, is opening Cugini Manzone in the shuttered Fillipo’s space at 2930 College Ave. in the Elmwood. The owners have imported a wood-burning pizza oven from Italy and plan on using it to cook, from scratch, many Italian dishes, including “authentic” Italian pizzas, according to Giuseppe Manzone. “The oven is amazing to work with. It gets up to 800 degrees and and kisses the food with a smokey flavor,” said Giuseppe Manzone. Cugini Manzone is slated to open in late January and will be open daily for lunch and dinner, as well as a “spuntino” mid-afternoon menu.

What else is going on…

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 2.59.19 PMINSTACART Same-day grocery delivery service Instacart announced that it has added Costco and Berkeley Bowl delivery to its East Bay service. That means customers can now combine items from Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco and Berkeley Bowl into one order and have it all delivered within an hour. Instacart is the only local service that can deliver groceries from multiple local stores within an hour. According to Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta, “Berkeley Bowl and Costco delivery were the top requests from our East Bay customers.” Consumers can visit Instacart to sign up for a free Instacart account. New customers get a complimentary delivery on their first order.

Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):

Thanksgiving turkey: Chop it up before cooking it, it tastes better!
Caravaggio: Italian gelato spot opens in Berkeley


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.com. Catch up with previous Bites columns.