Tag Archives: Berkeley restaurants
By Allison Etchison
Caffe Venezia, a Berkeley staple for over three decades, will be closing in the early part of the year (as reported by Berkeleyside in January). The restaurant will remain open for a few more months to celebrate 33 years of serving the Berkeley community and its menu will take a nostalgia trip and including some classics to mark the occasion. On offer will be some perennial favorites such as Pollo Affumicato, Linguine Con Carciofi, Chicken Cannelloni, Rustica and Puttanesca, as well as standbys Malfatti con Funghi and Spaghetti Carbonara.
The roots of Caffe Venezia go back to 1978 when John and Lois Solomon, best known for their catering at the Renaissance Faires and their food cart on Telegraph Ave in the early 1970s, approached Jeff Wizig and Stacy Metcalf with their idea to open a natural foods taqueria in Berkeley. (Solomon was also the inspiration behind the “How Berkeley Can You Be Parade” that marched along University once a year for 13 years, until it was canceled in 2009.) … Continue reading »
By Ted Friedman
Giovanni Schipani, 81, has been fighting the past two years to save the restaurant he launched in 1962. Now, according to Anna Schipani, 63, the bookkeeper at Giovanni, “we could be boarded-up at the end of the month if we don’t pay back taxes to IRS.”
Giovanni, at 2420 Shattuck Ave., is “probably” the oldest restaurant on Shattuck, according to Steve Finacom, vice president of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Schipani, known as Johnny to friends, had been wildly successful in Berkeley’s flourishing south side restaurant scene, earning enough money from his first restaurant, Mr. Pizza, to buy a muffler shop and convert it to an upscale Italian family restaurant seating 200. … Continue reading »
In a regular feature for NOSH, food writer Anna Mindess sets out to explore the journeys of East Bay immigrants through the lens of food.
I first met Noriko Taniguchi as I was examining a package of gray speckled noodles at Berkeley’s Tokyo Fish Market. The pixieish grandmother leaned over her shopping cart and whispered, “Yam noodles — very good for the digestion.” As we chatted, I learned she owns a Telegraph Avenue restaurant that features home-style Japanese cooking and promised to visit.
Two weeks later I arrived at Norikonoko at 2556 Telegraph Ave. for lunch. Once I figured out how to slide open the restaurant’s traditional wooden door, I was charmed by the cozy interior that resembles a typical Japanese countryside inn, adorned with innumerable tiny treasures, like miniature tea sets and teensy origami cranes.
The menu also intrigued me with unusual items such as a daikon salad with chirimenjako (tiny dried fish that Noriko sautés in butter to make them crispy). … Continue reading »
A hotel development and design group has chosen downtown Berkeley to launch its first restaurant, a high-end Roman-style pizzeria called A90. (Update, Jan. 2013: the restaurant has since been renamed Build.)
A90 will be located at 2286 Shattuck Avenue, on the corner of Bancroft Way. The space was most recently occupied by Indian restaurant Pasand Madras, next door to the recently shuttered Shattuck Down Low music club. Lisa Holt of DLS Hotels & Spas said work has begun on the building and they hope to be open by the spring.
DLS Hotels & Spas, whose projects include Milliken Creek Inn & Spa and Hotel Yountville, plans to replicate the A90 concept in other locations, both around the country and globally.
“Berkeley will be our flagship,” said Lisa Holt who is working on the launch in partnership with David Shapiro and the Rustic Restaurant Company. … Continue reading »
Today sees a thrilling new launch for Berkeleyside and, we hope, an exciting new source of information for East Bay residents on all things edible.
With the launch of Berkeleyside NOSH, Berkeleyside has broken out of Berkeley (gasp!). We felt — and we trust you agree — that if we were covering food and drink locally, we couldn’t ignore all the wonderful things happening in Oakland, as well as neighboring areas like Emeryville, Kensington, Albany and El Cerrito.
Be assured, Berkeleyside itself remains firmly focused on Berkeley. It is purely for our food-related stories on NOSH that we have expanded geographically. … Continue reading »
What is always in your refrigerator?
Kimchi from Sinto Gourmet. They have a stand at the San Francisco Civic Center market on Wednesdays. They make several varieties of delicious Korean style pickles, nappa cabbage, cucumbers, turnips. They last forever and I can make an easy delicious meal by steaming some rice, and grilling chicken thighs or Korean cut shortribs to serve with the pickles.
What do you cook up for a late night snack?
I keep bagels in my freezer at all times. They’re from my friends Blake and Amy’s Montreal-style Oakland bagel bakery, Beauty’s Bagel Shop.
Where/what do you eat on your day off?
I know it sounds cliché since I worked there for almost nine years, but I still love Delfina and their pizzerias. I also like to check out the new restaurants that my colleagues are talking about. I don’t frequently have nights off, so I need to make it count.
Do you have a secret ‘junk food’ vice?
Butterfingers, Reese’s, or any peanut butter candy.
Any food you can’t stand?
Cooked farmed salmon. I can tolerate it cured as Gravlax, but cooked? Gross, metallic flavor and mushy texture. … Continue reading »
Grégoire Jacquet was born in Versailles, France. When he was young, his family moved to the village of Grazay in the Loire Valley. His father spent most of his time away working as a car salesman. A rural upbringing gave Jacquet an appreciation for cooking and food in general. At 14 he went to study cooking at the Maison Familiale et Rurale. After a brief stint at a hotel in the French Alps, Jacquet cooked in Paris for two years. On vacation in the Bay Area, he met Jacky Robert, and with Jacky’s help decided to come and work in the U.S.. He worked at Amelio’s, and at Ritz Carlton hotels in San Francisco, Boston, and Puerto Rico, after which he moved with his wife, Tara, to Berkeley. He opened Grégoire in 2002 with a two-person staff and an ever-changing, local menu. His philosophy is for a simple spot where the chef takes the orders and cooks the food in front of the customers. A second restaurant opened on Piedmont Avenue in 2007. These days, Jacquet says he has found a perfect balance between wanting to please people with his food and being a devoted husband and father of two.
When did you arrive in Berkeley?
The first time I came to Berkeley was in 1989 just after the big earthquake, but I didn’t live here. The first time I moved here was in 1999 after I met my wife, Tara, at the Ritz. We left to live in Puerto Rico and came back in 2001.
What’s your ‘hood?
Monterey Avenue between Hopkins and Posen. … Continue reading »
2020 Shattuck Avenue, between University and Addison
Berkeley CA, 94704
Open for dinner daily
This place has been buzzing since day one, and it looks like it will be a new and successful venue for downtown Berkeley. The space is beautifully designed, with reclaimed wood and hard and shiny surfaces — unfortunately this translates into lots of noise when the crowds are there. There’s an open kitchen where you can watch a team of at least eight cooks orchestrating your meal. The large service staff is speedy, informed, and personable — you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.
The food is inspired by Latin America, with a large number of small plates, all moderately priced, and a few more pricey larger plates. Everything is quite delicious with a wonderful freshness of flavors. The chips and guacamole are a terrific way to begin your meal. … Continue reading »
On Friday, John Paluska will throw open the heavy steel doors to his ambitious new restaurant, Comal, which he hopes will become a magnet for local residents and a cultural incubator. “I see it as a big tent that I hope will become the heart of the community,” he said last week as he stood in the expansive, airy space at 2020 Shattuck Avenue, overseeing a plethora of pre-launch preparations.
Comal will be cooking up Oaxaca-inspired Mexican food — masa-based dishes such as Tetelas, memelas, and tlayudas, whole grilled fish, chickens and fresh vegetables -- much of it cooked on an Italian wood-burning range and two “comals” — large round griddles which take center stage in the restaurant’s open kitchen and, says Paluska, also serve to evoke the “hearth as gathering place” ambiance he is seeking to create there.
Chef Matt Gandin, formerly of Delfina in San Francisco, says he wants to explore the complexities of a cuisine that he feels is “waiting to be discovered”.
Berkeleysider Neil Mishalov went by Gioia Pizzeria on Saturday and saw that the popular restaurant has gotten a quick serve restaurant license from Berkeley. The stools at the interior banquet, which were removed in late January, have returned, making it all that much easier to eat Gioia’s slices of formaggio, fungi, and other flavors.
Councilmember Laurie Capitelli stepped into the fray when it turned out that Gioia had been operating without the proper permits since its opening in 2004. (The issue prompted a significant response from readers when we reported it in early February with no less than 85 comments. This is, after all, Berkeleysiders’ favorite pizza joint in town.)
The restaurant actually hurt its own cause when it found out, for the owners applied for a much more difficult to obtain permit when all they needed to do was submit some standard paperwork to the Planning Department, said Capitelli. He helped sort things out. … Continue reading »
As is her custom, the birthday girl, Mother Lou, who turned 88 this year, was hard at work making traditional birthday buns for the occasion.
She handcrafted the special long-life breads in the shape of pears for every one of the 100 attendees at the event, according to one of King Tsin’s most loyal customers, Matt Kelleher, a filmmaker who lives in El Cerrito.
“It was a terrific celebration,” said Kelleher, who added that he has been coming to the restaurant since its opening year. “She can still churn out the pot stickers faster than any of the current kitchen staff — she must have been making about 50 every five minutes.”
“My mother makes everything by hand,” says Albert Lou. “I don’t think there’s anyone else who makes birthday buns like my mother.” … Continue reading »
Prompted by “the Bauer”‘s praise for Wood Tavern, reader Ira Serkes has his suggestions for restaurants that help give their neighborhoods “soul” and make for happy locals. Here’s his list — some of which stray slightly out of Berkeley proper, but who’s on border patrol?: