30 new East Bay restaurants, bars for you to try now

Dishes from Burma Bear in Oakland. Photo: Chloe List, courtesy Postcard PR
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Something’s in the air this summer. It’s not even August, and we’ve already covered the openings of 30 East Bay restaurants and bars since Memorial Day. With all of this excitement, it can be hard to keep up.

Here at Nosh, we’ve decided to do the hard work for you and compiled a running list of all the new spots. Of course, with restaurant openings invariably come restaurant closings, and so we’ve included our tally of those below. Click on the restaurant’s name to read more about each spot on Berkeleyside. And if you need more dining inspiration, don’t forget to check out the Nosh Guide for all of your breakfast, lunch and dinner needs. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley actor Matt Ross can do more than scowl

Matt Ross has written and directed 'Captain Fantastic' which opens Friday in Berkeley. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Matt Ross had a smile on his face. Maybe it was no surprise, as he was at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco for a long string of press interviews about his movie, Captain Fantastic.

The smile, and accompanying open demeanor, are not how most of the world usually sees Ross, who lives in Berkeley. He is best known for his roles as Gavin Belson, the competitive and ruthless tech tycoon on the hit HBO TV show, “Silicon Valley,” and Albie Grant, the controlling Mormon polygamist who represses his homosexuality in HBO’s “Big Love.” Both of those parts require Ross to purse his lips and scowl — a lot.

But the world is now about to see another side of Ross, one that brings out his smile. Although he is a classically trained actor who went to Juilliard, Ross has been writing movie scripts and making short films since he was 12. His first feature movie, 28 Hotel Rooms, was decently received. Captain Fantastic has been enthusiastically embraced. John Seal, Berkeleyside’s film reviewer, called it “frequently excellent (if periodically absurd).” This reporter loved the film for its intelligent and unpredictable script. Ross won Best Director in the Un Certain Regard category at the Cannes Film Festival in July.

Ross will be doing a Q&A in Berkeley this Friday, July 22, after the 7:05 p.m. screening of Captain Fantastic at the California Theatres on Kittredge Street.
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Gillian Margot brings Black Beauty to Berkeley (and Geoffrey Keezer)

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The musical partnership of vocalist Gillian Margot and pianist Geoffrey Keezer is still in its infancy, but the two extraordinary musicians have already forged a creatively charged connection. The San Diego-based duo make their Bay Area debut 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory, though Keezer has performed dozens of times in the East Bay, from his teenage stint in the hard bop cauldron of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers to his well-documented three-year run with legendary bassist Ray Brown (Margot and Keezer also give a CJC workshop Saturday afternoon “The Art of Accompanying a Vocalist”).

One of the most celebrated pianists of his generation, the 45-year-old Keezer even lived in San Leandro briefly about a dozen years ago, in the midst of a Grammy Award-winning stint with bass maestro Christian McBride’s electro-acoustic band. These days he spends much of his time writing music for various projects and commissions, and can be found on stage working as an accompanist for masterly jazz vocalists like Dianne Reeves, Denise Donatelli, and Oakland’s Kenny Washington (who joins Keezer’s trio as a special guest Sunday afternoon at Jazz at Filoli).

“One thing musicians like to do is keep working,” he says. “As a pianist, I like working with vocalists, and singers value what I bring to the table. I’m not much of a singer myself, but I like writing songs, and with my own trio gigs I’ll invite Gillian or Kenny to come up.” … Continue reading »

Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Captain Fantastic’; ‘Breaking a Monster’

Captain Fantastic
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Three-quarters of the way into Captain Fantastic (opening at Landmark’s California Theater on Friday, July 22), I thought I might be watching one of 2016’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees. One implausible plot development later, I wasn’t so sure — but I am convinced that Viggo Mortensen is likely to receive Oscar recognition for his lead role in this frequently excellent (if periodically absurd) new feature.

Mortensen plays the film’s title character, an off-the-grid Noam Chomsky admirer known more prosaically as Ben. With wife Leslie (Trin Miller, seen only in flashback) Ben has raised his six children in the middle of a Pacific Northwest forest, training them in survivalist techniques and teaching them about great literature, political theory, and the Bill of Rights.

What he hasn’t taught them is how to live in the ‘real world’, a problem that quickly becomes apparent when the family leaves the wilderness for a funeral in suburban New Mexico. Conflicts rapidly arise between the insular Fantastics and their ‘normal’ relatives, including Leslie’s sister Harper (Kathryn Hale), brother-in-law Dave (Steve Zahn), and father Jack (Frank Langella).

Written and directed by Berkeley resident Matt Ross, Captain Fantastic is careful not to pass judgment on these competing visions of ‘the way things should be’. (Ross will be doing a Q&A in Berkeley this Friday, July 22, after the 7:05 p.m. screening of Captain Fantastic at the California Theatres at 2113 Kittredge St.) Ben is clearly a loving father, but he’s also a martinet whose parenting techniques sometimes border on child abuse; Jack has the best interests of his grandchildren at heart but is willing to use social status and wealth to make life for Ben thoroughly miserable. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 07.20.16

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UC Berkeley acts after concrete falls at Edwards Stadium

Edwards Stadium. Photo: Hank Chapot
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After chunks of concrete fell from under the bleachers of Edwards Stadium causing safety concerns, UC Berkeley has closed part of the building and initiated plans to install a temporary fix for the aging facility, according to a university official. Cal employees with offices under the bleachers have been ordered to vacate by today, Thursday.

Starting Monday July 25, construction will begin on nets designed to catch any further falling concrete — the chunks being the result of years of water damage, real-estate division spokeswoman Christine Shaff told Berkeleyside.

“The netting installation should start next week, and in preparation for the installation we’re moving equipment and staff out of the tunnel,” she said.

Rated “poor” by the university’s Seismic Action Plan for Facilities (SAFER) — meaning expected to sustain “significant” damage that will have deadly consequences in case of a severe earthquake — the stadium is on the university’s list of structures to receive seismic retrofitting. But the university does not currently have the funding necessary to complete the fix.

Falling blocks of concrete and the water damage that has caused them are a distinct, unrelated problem from the potentially life-threatening susceptibility to earthquakes, Shaff said. … Continue reading »

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Recipe: Fish taco lettuce wraps

Fish taco lettuce wraps. Photo: Marisa Westbrook
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My love for tacos runs deep — each bite brings back memories of sitting down with my family to an assortment of taco toppings spread out on our dining room table. Did anyone else have taco night growing up?

Today’s recipe uses mild-flavored rockfish, a perfect addition to your taco spread, along with crisp romaine lettuce wrappers. (You can, of course, use corn tortillas if you’d like.) For a more filling meal, I’ve enjoyed these fish taco lettuce wraps with a side of black beans and rice or baked plantain chips. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

Proposed in Berkeley: 5 stories, 39 units on San Pablo

The proposal for 2720 San Pablo Ave. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
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A new proposal has come in, on the former Jered’s Pottery lot, for a 5-story, 39-unit building on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley.

The pottery shop, at 2720 San Pablo Ave. between Carleton and Pardee streets, closed last year and moved to Richmond. The property at that time was on sale for $1.4 million; a 4-story 18-unit building had already been approved there.

The major transit corridor has been the focus of much development in recent years, with more changes potentially coming, including a large urgent care facility and hundreds of new apartments approved and proposed.

Scroll down for a round-up of more projects on San Pablo.

A 1-story garage (later used as the pottery studio) would be demolished to make way for the new building, designed by Berkeley-based Devi Dutta Architecture.

According to the applicant statement, the former gas and auto service station would be replaced by a “mixed-use and transit-oriented infill project” that includes ground-floor commercial space under four stories of apartments.  … Continue reading »

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The Institute of Mosaic Art in Berkeley to close Aug. 30

Ilse Cordoni, the owner of the Institute for Mosaic Arts, teaching an andamento class at IMA.  Andamento is the art of laying tiles with a sense of flow and design, rather than just putting broken pieces of glass next to each other. Since this was a one-day class, she taught the class using paper (easier to cut) rather than glass. Photo: Daphne White
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By Daphne White

The Institute of Mosaic Art (IMA), an East Bay institution that is one of the oldest and largest mosaic centers in the U.S., will close its doors on Aug. 30 unless someone steps up to take it over. The school, which has offered classes to more than 1,000 students in the past three years, is a victim of its own success, according to owner, Ilse Cordoni.

“When mosaic artist Laurel True opened IMA in 2005, there were only two mosaic schools in the U.S.: IMA, and the nonprofit Chicago Mosaic School,” said Cordoni, who purchased IMA in 2013. These two schools helped spearhead a mosaic renaissance across the country. “Now that mosaic has become very popular, there are half a dozen mosaic schools in California alone, and many more nationwide. Students no longer need to travel from all over the U.S. to take introductory mosaics in Berkeley.”

Unless a buyer can be found, the school and its associated mosaics store and gallery on Allston Way will close its doors as of Aug. 30, Cordoni said. This announcement has left the East Bay mosaic community reeling.

“IMA has been an enormous part of the mosaic renaissance in Oakland and beyond,” said professional mosaicist Rachel Rodi, whose mosaic career began at IMA when the school first opened. “IMA and its students and teachers have created community murals and public art throughout the Bay Area in places such as the Martin Luther King Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School and Mission Creek in San Francisco.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man stabbed in neck at People’s Park

People's Park
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An unidentified woman stabbed a 57-year-old man in the neck Monday around 5 p.m. at People’s Park, according to the University of California Police Department.

The Berkeley Fire Department took the man to a local hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, said police.

No arrests have been made.

Police believe the suspect and the victim knew one another based on a statement the victim made to an uninvolved individual.

The victim has refused to cooperate with police.

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The Berkeley Wire: 07.19.16

Berkeley murals by William Newton

Berkeley murals by William Newton

Berkeley girl and dad die at Oahu tidepools (East Bay Times)
Landlord sues Berkeley over demolition fees (East Bay Times)
Council to discuss measure giving PRC direct authority over police (Daily Cal)
UC Berkeley student is youngest CA delegate at Republican convention (KGO)
Why does council care about a dog meat festival in China? (Express)
Former UC Berkeley engineering professor dies at 74 (Daily Cal)

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook where we often break news. Email us at tips@berkeleyside.com. Would you like the latest Berkeley news sent to your email inbox once a day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.

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Berkeley may soon have 6 cannabis dispensaries

Cannabis
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Two months later, the council is on the verge of approving another two new dispensaries, which means Berkeley may soon have six places to buy medical cannabis.

The rapid turnaround came in part because city council members were so impressed by the presentations made by the six finalists vying for the fourth spot, said City Councilman Kriss Worthington. He said the presentations were “compelling,” and the applications were very different from one another.

 “The council was reluctant until they saw the depth and breadth of the applications,” said Worthington.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

Adding another two dispensaries will also add to the city’s coffers. In 2014, the existing three dispensaries contributed $638,938 in taxes, according to a staff report. Another three dispensaries would almost certainly generate several hundred thousand dollars in taxes annually. … Continue reading »

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Police end manhunt in Eastshore Park for man with a rifle

Berkeley Police don bullet proof vests to search for a man reportedly walking through the Marina with a rifle. Photo: Terri Kay
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Update: 6:55 p.m. Berkeley police have just issued a Nixle alert to say the search for a man reported to have carried a rifle into Eastshore Park has ended. For the last six and a half hours, Berkeley police, the East Bay Regional Park District police, and the California Highway Patrol have been looking for a man in a yellow shirt who reportedly took a rifle over the pedestrian overpass over I-80 and walked into the park. All roads leading into the park and next to the park have been reopened. The EBRPD police took control of the search in the afternoon and made the decision to end the manhunt, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, who was the acting watch commander on duty Tuesday night. … Continue reading »

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