Bites: East Bay to get last dibs on Boccalone, Pizzafest, big changes at Spats

Capocollo salumi at the Boccalone factory. Photo: Kate Williams

LAST CHANCE FOR TASTY PIG PARTS Last week, the Chronicle reported disappointing news for Bay Area charcuterie lovers. Chef Chris Costentino and Mark Pastore’s salumi company Boccalone is closing due to a decline in sales. The company was founded in 2007 as an off-shoot of their restaurant, Incanto, which shuttered three years ago. Even after the restaurant’s closure, Boccalone remained open, selling products made in its Oakland production facility at its store in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, online on Amazon Fresh and at two Oakland farmers markets (at Grand Lake on Saturdays and at Temescal on Sundays). But soon, Boccalone’s time will end, too. First to go will be its Ferry Building outpost, which will be in business through Oct. 29. We reached out to the company to find out its plans for its Oakland facility and farmers market appearances, so that East Bay fans can stock up before it’s too late. Pastore told Nosh that Boccalone’s facility is “in the process of winding down production over the next month or so.” However, there is some good news at the end of this salami stick: there are still some products being made and that will be ready in early-to-mid November. These last charcuterie products, mostly salami, will be available at both Oakland farmers markets into November. He also hinted that Boccalone may host a one-day pop-up at the Oakland facility, where the very last batches of Boccalone products will be up for sale. Stay tuned on Nosh for more details.

PIZZAFEST RETURNS TO BERKELEY The Companion Group, a Berkeley-based company that makes home pizza-making products, is bringing back its annual Pizzafest fundraising event this weekend. This year, Pizzafest pits 13 groups of amateur chefs in a cook-off to see who can make the best, most unique pizza. A $20 ticket gives attendees all-you-can eat access to the competing pies and a vote for the winner at the fest (Kids 12 and under get in free with an adult). Lagunitas and Gilman Brewing Company will be providing suds at an extra cost to wash down all those slices down. Proceeds from Pizzafest 2017 will benefit Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency. Tickets must be purchased in advance on Brown Paper TicketsPizzafest will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1250 Ninth St. (at Gilman) in Berkeley.

SPATS TURNS 40 Spats is celebrating its 40th year in downtown Berkeley this month. As some do in middle age, the saloon — which closed in 2009 and was reopened in 2015 — has been considering its image and place in the world, especially in comparison to those new young things popping up around it. Under the ownership of Nathan George and Mark Rhoades and in partnership with Farm League Restaurant Group, Spats has undergone a revamp of its venue and concept to reconnect “with the student and campus populations, as well as local Berkeley businesses.” One of the big changes you’ll see at Spats is a second bar in the main room and an updated beverage program, which now includes two slushy machines cranking out frozen Palomas and Piña Coladas and an expanded selection of local craft beers on tap. Knowing that many of its customers will be penny-pinching Cal students, Spats will still offer more affordable refreshments, like $10 High Life pitchers at happy hour and on game days and a “9-minute drink special,” when frozen Palomas will be available for $2 between 9 and 9:09 p.m. everyday. Spats has also brought back its pinball machines and a “Jungle Room” with a stage and dance floor, to host events and parties. For its food offerings, Spats outsources its eats to two third party vendors. For breakfast and lunch, starting on Saturday, Oct. 14, Oakland pop-up Cracked (formerly popping up inside Blackwater Station) will offer its popular breakfast sandwiches. As of now, from 5 p.m. to midnight, Street Burger by 310 Eatery serves “California-inspired” street food, such as stacked and fully-loaded burgers and fries. This Friday, Oct. 13, Spats celebrates its birthday with a dance party with DJ O’Aces, 2-for-1 cocktails and $10 High Life pitchers till 9 p.m. Spats is at 1974 Shattuck Ave. (near Berkeley Way) in Berkeley.

[UPDATED ON OCT. 12] CHEESE BOARD COLLECTIVE TURNS 50 The Cheese Board was first opened by Elizabeth and Sahag Avedisian in Berkeley in 1967, but by 1971, the cheese store became a worker-owned collective, which included the two owners and six employees. The Berkeley institution — which runs both a cheese shop-bakery and a pizzeria next door — will celebrates it 50th year in business. Originally, the party was planned for Sunday, Oct. 15, in concurrence with Sunday Streets Berkeley (on Shattuck Avenue in the Gourmet Ghetto), but due to poor air quality in Berkeley from the North Bay fires, the celebration will take place on Sunday, Nov. 5. The Cheese Board Bakery and Pizzeria are at 1504 Shattuck Ave. and 1512 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine), Berkeley. 


Souvenir Coffee soft opened in Berkeley on Oct. 9. Photo: Sarah Han

SOUVENIR COFFEE CO. (SOFT) OPENS ON CLAREMONT This past Monday, Oct. 9, the brown paper covering the windows of the former Semifreddi’s Café on Claremont Avenue came down and the doors to Souvenir Coffee opened. But you may have trouble locating the café for now, as Souvenir is in soft opening mode and some last details, like signage, are still in the works. Owner, Berkeley-native, Jeremy Bled told Nosh that he and his team are using the soft opening to get organized, get community feedback and iron out the kinks in advance of their official opening, which is scheduled to happen within a week. For now, customers are welcome in for coffee (more on this in a minute) and pastries, sourced from Oakland’s Sweet Bar Bakery. This week, the café will also be rolling out more drinks, like house-made lemonade and chocolate milk. By next week, Souvenir hopes to have sandwiches. As the space does not have a kitchen, the sandwiches will be prepared in advance, but grilled to order on the panini press. Eventually, Bled said, Souvenir will serve three to five sandwiches, salads and combos of the two that customers can take away or enjoy on site. And, since it was in the former Semifreddi’s Café space, Bled said it’ll most likely offer some Semifreddi’s breads, like challah and cinnamon bread. Now, back to the coffee… Souvenir roasts its own at Bay Area Co-Roasters, or CoRo, in West Berkeley. At the café, Souvenir serves three roasts: light, medium and dark. Although Souvenir considers itself a third wave coffee roaster, it wants to be inclusive of all tastes and offer the darker roasts that many third wave coffee spots eschew. “We’re not snooty,” Bled said, “We’re going to make dark roast coffee that we like and not feel guilty about it.” Souvenir Coffee is currently open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, but the hours are subject to change, based on many things, including community feedback, which, as a Berkeley resident, Bled takes to heart. The café has a back patio, but it’s not yet permitted for use, and Bled said that although “he’s looking into it,” he will only consider using it if it will be “respectful of our neighbors.” Souvenir plans to hold events in its future, including afternoon teas, mahjong sessions and live acoustic music. Stay turned on Nosh for more details as we get them. Souvenir Coffee is at 3084 Claremont Ave. (at the Uplands) in Berkeley. 

A NEW STAR SHINES IN ALAMEDA The Star on Park is now open for business. It opened on Saturday, Oct. 7. As with its sister locations – The Star on Grand and Little Star on Solano Avenue in Albany and in San Francisco — The Star on Park specializes in a tomato-heavy, gut-busting Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Alameda residents take note: The Star on Park announced on Instagram that for the rest of October it is offering free delivery anywhere on the island through delivery services Caviar and DoorDash. The Star on Park is at 1400 Park St. (at Central) in Alameda.

The Local in Alameda. Photo: The Local

A LOCAL OPENS THE LOCAL IN ALAMEDA Park Street got another new spot this month — a café called The Local. As its name suggests, it was opened by an Alameda resident. Otto Wright, who lives steps away from his new café, decided to open The Local when the space, formerly occupied by Blue Danube and found within an historic Masonic Lodge building, was up for lease. “This particular location popped up and it seemed like an ideal opportunity,” Wright told Nosh, adding that he wanted to open a local business with which his family (Wright has two kids) could be involved.  For now, The Local is mainly a coffee shop, serving pour-over coffee from local roaster, Mr. Espresso (Quick serve coffee is also available, for those who need their java pronto). The café offers three standard roasts, plus three exotic, organic coffees. As for food, The Local will offer Semifreddi’s pastries, six sandwiches and four salads. Wright said that for now, he’s not changing the Blue Danube’s sandwich and salad menu drastically, but will continue to refine and improve offerings as he sees fit. And he has added one new item to the menu: piroshkis sourced from Galant Food Company in San Leandro. Two menu items that will definitely not be changing — the smoothies and juices, as Wright said he’s noticed a steady stream of customers who come in for these drinks. Eventually, The Local plans to offer beer and wine, too.  The Local, 1333 Park St. (at Alameda) in Alameda.

POP-UP BEER GARDEN AT A HISTORIC VICTORIAN HOUSE Beer gardens are popping up all over the East Bay, but this coming weekend, you can knock back some brews in the gardens of a historic Oakland landmark. The Cohen Bray House dates back to 1882, when the Stick-style Victorian home was first built in Fruitvale as a wedding gift for Emma Bray and Alfred H. Cohen. The house was entered into the National Register of Historic Places and became an official Oakland City Landmark in 1976. For the third year, the house will open its Oak Tree Farm Gardens to the public for an afternoon of craft beers, games, live music and tours of the house. Brews will be provided by Lagunitas, Anderson Valley, Ninkasi and Cultivar. One special thing to note about Cultivar — it will be serving its California Pale Ale and California IPA, both of which use hops grown in Cohen Bray’s garden. How’s that for hyperlocal drinking? Food is still TBD, but Emma Bassein (the great, great granddaughter of the house’s original inhabitant, Emma Bray Cohen) who is hosting this event, told Nosh that she hopes to have a taco truck from the Fruitvale neighborhood providing the eats. Admission to the event is free, with food and drink at cost. The 3rd Annual Fall Pop-Up Beer Garden at the Oak Tree Farm takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cohen Bray House at 1440 29th Ave. (near International Blvd.) in Oakland.

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