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Giuseppe Manzone testing out his wood-fired oven prior to opening Cugini Manzone last week. Photo: Cugini Manzone

CUGINI MANZONE Giuseppe and Michele Manzone opened Cugini Manzone last Thursday night in at 2930 College Ave. in the Elmwood. The restaurant features an Italian wood-fired oven for thin-crust pizza and calzone (the Manzones are also cooking eggplant parmesan and roast chicken in the wood-fired oven), as well as a full menu of Italian antipasti and pastas. The restaurant is only open for dinner at the moment (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.), but plans to open for lunch and mid-afternoon snacks soon.

Botella RepublicBOTELLA REPUBLIC Tasting bar and shop Botella Republic, 2055 Center St., plans to open in the middle of April. Botella will provide “a curated selection of premier NorCal wines and beers,” paired with “seasonal bites.” Located across the street from Eureka, Botella marks another step in the growth of downtown activity west of Shattuck.

PADI Indonesian restaurant Padi in the Elmwood closed recently. Owner Jimmy Sujanto said he is consolidating his business at the larger location at 16695 14th St., San Leandro.

Shop Talk is our 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, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns, and check out Bites for the latest East Bay restaurant news.

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  • Mfox327

    The opening menu for Cugini Manzone screams inexperience/poor culinary choice:

    – Offering a caprese salad while tomatoes are out of season? Why are there olives on it, and not olive oil?
    – Why is the margherita pizza no less expensive than the others with more toppings?
    – Almost all of the pastas are not handmade (likely all, but who knows with the linguine).
    – All of the secondi are simple, rustic preparations (meat, potato, a vegetable), but have an average price significantly higher than comparable restaurants, and even higher than a truly “nice” restaurant like Rivoli.
    – The entire dessert menu. It’s about as creative as the Cheesecake Factory.
    – Caesar salad is not Italian food. Why do mediocre Italian restaurants continue to offer it?

  • ACB

    Mfox327: I’ll assume that you have not been to the restaurant based on your evaluation of the establishment after solely looking at the menu. It seems rather rash and harsh to rip the place to shreds; even seasoned, professional reviewers eat at a restaurant, usually multiple times, before drawing conclusions. I have never been to this restaurant and don’t know anything about the people running it, their experience and/or their culinary taste. True, Caprese salad with olives and out of season tomatoes is not what I expect, but I like to eat with an open mind. Maybe it will be a new delicious twist on an old favorite. Or maybe it will be terrible. The point is, you don’t know and so it isn’t fair that you attack these poor people who are getting their dream (and yes, I am making an assumption there) just off the ground. give them a chance!

  • Heather_W_62

    Good, bad or indifferent — I have absolutely no idea why someone would invest in yet another specialty pizza place in Berkeley. Good luck to them, though. Not on my side of town, so I’m unlikely to go there.

  • serkes

    Cugini in Albany on Solano is one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. Michele Manzone was a founder; probably Giuseppe too, though I believe that they no longer are involved in that business.

    Cugini calzone is superb, service excellent and very friendly, ambiance wonderful … and the wood fired oven a treat to see and walk by.

    I’m expecting Cugini Manzone to be just as delightful … and that it will quickly become a Berkeley “go-to” restaurant.

    We’ve had several dishes there, but can’t recall how the pizza was because we almost always order the calzone.

    Good luck!

    Ira

    One of my very favorite meals was a rijsttafel in Delft. I was excited when Padi opened, but after two visits decided not to return – I never really enjoyed their food. Perhaps we can bring back Holy Land and the cowboy-hat wearing Israeli owner!

  • Hugh Groman

    What I don’t understand is why there is so much hostility towards restaurant owners. It truly is one of the most difficult businesses, and most restaurant owners are motivated by a wish to please people. I promise you they aren’t getting rich off of running a restaurant.

  • justsaying

    When I moved to Berkeley – was excited about the Gourmet Ghetto thinking it was a selection for dining destinations – after carefully many times scouring the ‘hood it was not that many – other than Chez Panisse (FOOD MECCA), Corso, the rest were casual dining – we need more – lots of empty storefronts…We are surrounded by Top Culinary talent and amazing food – we should be a culinary destinations.

    WAKE UP! City Hall and those protesting new businesses in Berkeley. Our sales tax is highest in the state!