Bites: Desco and Café Eugene to close, Ramen Kitchen at Bo’s, the T-Rex identity crisis

Desco in Old Oakland. The restaurant will close on Dec. 31. Photo: Emilie Raguso

DESCO IN OLD OAKLAND TO CLOSE Chef-restaurateur Donato Scotti announced last week that he will be closing his Old Oakland Italian restaurant, Desco, on Dec. 31. Scotti opened Desco in 2013. In a press release, he attributed its closure to an “inability to come to a long-term agreement that would allow us to make updates to the restaurant space and concept.” Scotti has several restaurants that will keep him busy, even after Desco closes. In October, he opened Donato & Co. with chef Gianluca Gugliemi in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood. He also currently has two restaurants, Enoteca and CRU, in Redwood City, and another on the way in San Francisco. Desco will be open on Dec. 31, offering its last-ever New Year’s Eve prix fixe menu. Desco is at 499 Ninth St. (at Washington), Oakland

Café Eugene will close on Jan. 1, 2017. Photo: Café Eugene

CAFÉ EUGENE TO TRANSITION Meanwhile, in Albany, Pacific-Northwest-inspired eatery Café Eugene is ending out its last month in business. Nosh tipster Rich Saskal brought the impending closure to our attention earlier this week. Eugene, which opened in January 2016 on Solano Avenue, is operated by 1100 Group, the restaurant group that owns Little Star Pizza, The Star and Boss Burger. On a note posted on its door (and on its website), the restaurant says, “Don’t worry, we’re not leaving for good, just switching hats to bring something new and exciting to Solano. See you soon!” So what’s next? The East Bay Express reported that the restaurant will transition into Cantina Del Sol, a full-service restaurant serving Mexican comfort food. Eugene will be open for the last time on New Year’s Eve, when it’ll offer a prix-fixe dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. ($55, plus $20 wine pairing), followed by an open bar cocktail party ($40 a ticket) starting at 9 p.m.  Café Eugene will be at 1175 Solano Ave. (at Stannage Avenue), Albany.

[Updated on Dec. 21, 6:45 a.m.] BO KNOWS RAMEN As of Dec. 13, Bo’s California Cuisine in Albany transforms into Ramen Kitchen for its dinner service. The change was announced earlier this month on Facebook, where Bo’s stated that its breakfast and lunch service are the same, but from 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday, it would serve bowls of ramen and Japanese small plates instead of its regular offerings. Ramen Kitchen’s menu boasts an extensive list of over 10 types of ramen, including variations on shoyu, miso, mazeman and tonkotsu ramen. Small plates include chicken karaage, pork ribs glazed in sesame-espresso BBQ sauce, a spicy pear salad and crispy sesame tofu salad. Bo Man Tom said via email, “We have long been slurping ramen before it got trendy. We have also worked on different broths for the longest time. We just feel ramen should be quality inexpensive good eats.” Ramen Kitchen is at 1491 Solano Ave. (at Curtis), Albany

THE NAME GAME The restaurant formerly known as T-Rex BBQ has gone through a litany of names in the past few months. As Nosh reported this fall, it became District 1 Fire & Hops in September. But last week, we got a tip that it is in the process of changing names yet again. We called the restaurant to find out more and learned that as of now, it is being called 1300 Tenth Street (its address) and its menu hasn’t altered much since its District 1 iteration. This, however, is just a transition phase until the eatery undergoes a major overhaul, changing its name again, but also its focus. In about two weeks, it will become Calle Diez, a Latin BBQ fusion restaurant. Calle Diez will serve “smoked meats with a Latin twist to it,” said the employee we spoke with on the phone. We asked for further information from the owners, but have not heard a response at the time of publication. Calle Diez will be at 1300 10th St. (at Gilman Street), Berkeley.


Café Think will open at Connie and Kevin Chou Hall at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in early 2018. Photo: Sarah Han

FOOD FOR THOUGHT UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is about to get a new thoughtful eatery. Café Think will take over the dining area at Connie and Kevin Chou Hall, a new six-story building at the northern edge of the Haas campus. Local restaurateur and UC Berkeley alumnus Daryl Ross is behind the new café to come. He also operates Caffe Strada on Bancroft, and several other on-campus cafés, including the Free Speech Movement (FSM) Café and Press at Moffitt Library and Café Zeb at the law school. Ross also runs Haas campus eatery, FIFO@Haas, which he took over in 2011, but he told Nosh FIFO will close when Café Think opens in early 2018.

Café Think will take a “holistic approach to food: following responsible food production, limiting excessive calories, supporting humane and sustainable agriculture with appropriate portion sizes,” according to a press release sent by Ross. Its menu will lean heavily towards healthy fare, favoring plant-based, rather than meat-heavy dishes. That means salads, ramen and poke bowls, grilled sandwiches  and a meatless “Beyond Beef” burger. Think will also serve beer and wine, which Ross said he will source on a rotating basis, with the recommendations from the the Beer Club and the Wine Club at Haas. Café Think will be at Connie and Kevin Chou Hall, UC Berkeley, 2220 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley

Matthew Linzner, program manager for Love Cultivating Schoolyards in Oakland. Photo: Oakland Museum of California

HOMEGROWN OAKLAND A new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California sets its focus on urban farming in Oakland. Through interactive displays, maps and videos, Take Root: Oakland Grows Food explores the many reasons why city dwellers grow gardens and tend farms, as well as the challenges and effects of creating mini eco-systems in urban areas.

The exhibit is very kid-friendly; it was created with the intention of giving families an opportunity to learn together. Still, anyone with an interest in the intersection of social justice and the local food system will appreciate this spotlight on the people who have made fertile ground — even if just a patch — in Oakland. Take Root is on view through Jan. 13, 2019. Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. (at 10th), Oakland.

The lamb merguez sliders at Copper Spoon in Oakland. Photo: Copper Spoon

LATE NIGHT BITES Finding a (good) restaurant that serves food after 10 p.m. isn’t easy, so it’s great to hear that one of North Oakland’s newest restaurants is catering to night owls looking for a tasty bite. From 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Copper Spoon will serve an abbreviated, but varied menu of small plates, including deviled eggs, its signature Sassy’s Kale Salad, lamb merguez or grilled chicken sliders, vegetable tempura and ceviche. Prices for plates range from $4-$11. Of course, a happy hour means drink specials, and Copper Spoon will be pouring a selected draft beer, its house red and white wine, and well drinks all for $5 during the late night happy hour. ICYMI, read about our recent visit to Copper Spoon. And don’t forget, the restaurant is closed on Wednesdays. Copper Spoon is at 4031 Broadway (between 40th and 41st), Oakland, California


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