New restaurant to open in The Advocate space in the Elmwood

The Advocate, at 2635 Ashby Ave. in the Elmwood, which closed in October 2016, looks like it will be replaced by an Italian restaurant under the stewardwhip of chef-restaurateur Donato Scotti. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Donato Scotti, the chef-restaurateur behind a number of Bay Area restaurants, including Donato Enoteca and CRU in Redwood City, and Desco in Old Oakland, looks set to open a new eatery at 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College) in the Elmwood, in the space formerly occupied by The Advocate.

Scotti has applied to take over The Advocate’s ABC license, currently held by Belt & Suspenders, the business entity for The Advocate.

Scotti, who is Italian, honed his cooking skills growing up in Bergamo, near Lake Como, where, according to his biography, he came from a family of “avid rural gastronomes”… “accustomed to fresh rabbits and chickens raised by his father, and homegrown, seasonal vegetables from the family garden.” As a young boy, he delivered bread by bicycle to local residents.

Before putting his name behind several restaurants, Scotti worked at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Del l’Angelo in Bergamo, then both Valentino and Primi and Posto in Los Angeles, and Il Fornaio in several Bay Area locations. In 2004, with a business partner, he opened La Strada in Palo Alto, then moved on to open Donato Enoteca in Redwood City. The chef’s focus has always been the cuisine of northern Italy, with an emphasis on using fresh, seasonal ingredients.


Dinner at Desco might include antipasti, then housemade cannelloni with hen, cabbage and wild mushroom and, as an entrée, Cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded Berkshire bone-in pork chop with a spicy misticanza salad and lemon).

Given that Scotti has only opened Italian restaurants so far, it is a fair bet that whatever is taking the place of the shuttered Advocate will be serving up Italian fare.

John Griffiths (left), opening chef at The Advocate in the restaurant’s open kitchen. Photo Frances Dinkelspiel

The Advocate was the second restaurant for John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman, who also own Comal in downtown Berkeley. The California-meets-Mediterranean spot closed in October 2016 after just over one year in business, and after cycling through three chefs. Paluska said they were not able to achieve the level of business necessary to make the restaurant sustainable. “We felt a lot of confidence that we could make something that would click in this neighborhood and we weren’t able to pull that off,” Paluska told Berkeleyside at the time. It took more than two years of planning, community outreach and build-out before The Advocate opened, exacerbated by a lawsuit from the same group that had put a halt to a previous restaurant project at the same Ashby Avenue location.

A name for the new restaurant that will take its place has not yet been confirmed. Attempts to reach Scotti, as well as Paluska, by press time proved unsuccessful. Nosh will update this story if we get more information.

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