Tag Archives: Rivoli

New restaurants Iyasare, Nido in Chronicle’s Top 100

Iyasare
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The phone at Iyasare Restaurant on Fourth Street in Berkeley started to ring a bit more urgently on Friday. Word had leaked out that the Japanese restaurant had been named to the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of top 100 restaurants – one of 20 new places on the list.

It’s already hard to get Friday or Saturday night reservations at Iyasare, a 50-seat restaurant opened by chef Shotaro Kamio and general manager Niall Cantwell just five months ago. When the Top 100 list is published on Sunday (an online version is available now for subscribers) the demand may be even stronger. … Continue reading »

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6 Berkeley restaurants snag Michelin Bib Gourmands

Comal by postcard PR
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Six Berkeley dining spots have been named Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants this year, including newcomer Comal.

Two names are missing this year from last year’s list of seven: Berkeley Thai House, on Channing Way, and eVe on University Avenue. Thai House is still going strong but eVe closed in late 2011 and came back under the same ownership last year as Peruvian rotisserie chicken joint Brasa.

The six restaurants are: Comal, Corso, Five, Gather, Ippuku, and Rivoli.

Michelin judges give the ‘Bib’ to restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). “Most importantly, they are the restaurants that the company’s inspectors frequent themselves,” Michelin said on its release. Michelin selected 70 such places for its 2013 San Francisco area guide which covers the entire Bay Area and wine country, down from 77 last year. … Continue reading »

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900 Grayson: American food with flair in west Berkeley

The restaurant storefront. Photo: Courtesy of Yelp
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From the start, restaurant goers and food critics dug the low-key, west Berkeley breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot serving stylish takes on classic American fare with quirky names like The Demon Lover (spicy fried chicken and buttermilk waffles).

900 Grayson, an unassuming corner restaurant with a maple pink facade, quietly attracted a following for its menu of comfort cuisine made from quality ingredients –  like the natural beef burger with applewood smoked bacon and house-made BBQ sauce — as well as its fresh seasonal fare with Asian undertones like the Ladyboy (a Vietnamese inspired dish with lemongrass prawns, mango, daikon, rice noodles, toasted rice powder and micro greens).

Not long after it opened six years ago, though, the business started by four partners hit some snags. First came the fast departure of chef-partner Sophina Uong (now behind the stoves at Oakland’s Pican). Eighteen months later her former life and work partner, Josh Pearl, followed suit.

A legal dispute over money followed:  The two ex-partners were pitted against brothers Anthony and Christopher Saulnier, who stayed on to run the restaurant. Add to that wranglings with Berkeley’s zoning department over dinner hours — the city had concerns about noise and congestion from the restaurant, which is in a residential area that fronts busy Seventh Street — and the restaurateurs had their hands full.

But the Saulniers weathered that early rough patch and now boast a loyal breakfast crowd, which mostly hails from Berkeley, and a steady lunch-time clientele, thanks largely to nearby businesses such as Pixar, Bayer, Novartis, and a host of smaller companies. These days the kitchen is run by committee, with two chefs, Eric Larson and Nick Spelletich, in charge. Larson was featured serving up 900 Grayson grub on an episode of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” show for the Food Network.

Berkeleyside spoke with co-owner Chris Saulnier, 43, after the lunch rush last week. … Continue reading »

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5 Berkeley restaurants make it into Chronicle’s Top 100

Corso Trattoria: one of just five Berkeley restaurants to make it into the Chronicle's Top 100 list
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The Chronicle’s food writer Michael Bauer chose the same five Berkeley restaurants that made it into last year’s Top 100 for his 2012 selection.

The “Top 100 Restaurants” list, which was published yesterday, embraces Chez PanisseIppukuO ChaméRivoli and Corso Trattoria.

Ippuku, known to be favorite haunt of Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters, was a newcomer last year. Rivoli and Corso share the same owners: Wendy Brucker and Roscoe Skipper.

In all, the list, which is in its 17th year, has 15 new restaurants and has dropped the same number, and Bauer notes that a trend this year has been for chefs to embrace the concept of Californian cuisine. Chez Panisse calls itself Northern California/Mediterranean, even though its roots are decidedly French and its branding, with its old Marcel Pagnol movie clips, retains a Gallic flavor. Bauer reports that other Bay Area restaurants — including Solbar, Bar Agricole, Canteen, Gary Danko and Manresa — have switched their allegiance from American to Californian. … Continue reading »

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Marc Kelly dishes on the story behind Berkeley’s Soop

Red lentil soupL In demand with new moms
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As mid-life crises go, Marc Kelly’s was a pretty productive one — with a little spice thrown in for good measure.

Seeking change after a 20-year career in the fruit and vegetable export business, Kelly was keen to open a food joint of his own. Something modest and manageable, a takeaway place that satisfied his culinary aspirations and cravings.

That’s how Soop, one of the original anchor businesses in the Gourmet Ghetto’s Epicurious Garden, came about.

Kelly, a self-taught chef, determined that soup was an unexplored market niche in the edible landscape. He sensed an opportunity. Six years into serving up soup every day, Kelly’s enthusiasm for the comfort food he sells is still apparent.

He has a loyal band of regulars — Kelly sees them coming and knows which ladle to reach for. And his years of global travel inform what he sells: every culture has a soup tradition and on the road he learned the universal language of soup. … Continue reading »

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Darryl Kimble: 27 years cooking breakfast at Bette’s Diner

Chef Darryl Kimble takes a break from behind the stoves to talk breakfast. Photo: Sarah Henry
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In the restaurant business, chefs change jobs about as often as the lead in a Superbowl playoff. So to have stayed the course at one spot, worked your way up the ranks almost since the inception of a beloved eating institution, and still genuinely enjoy going to work every day, well, that’s worth noting.

Such is the case for Darryl Kimble, the manager at Bette’s Oceanview Diner on Fourth Street, which celebrates its 30th year in 2012. Kimble has been cooking there for 27 and a half years; he joined the kitchen crew at 19.

The perennially popular restaurant serves breakfast and lunch to an astounding 135,000 people a year, although it only sits about 50 inside. … Continue reading »

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Farmers’ market favorite Phoenix Pastificio

Mike Detar hawks Phoenix products -- and serves up recipe suggestions -- at the market.
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It’s one thing to run a successful food business. But to have two edible start-ups do well, even in a food-friendly town, is quite an accomplishment in an industry known for slim profits and fickle customers.

That’s the case for couple Eric and Carole Sartenaer, who started off with a little bakery in Kensington called Semifreddi’s — ring any bells? — sold that for a tidy sum three years later, then departed to Oregon for seven years to run their own bakery before returning to the Bay Area in 1993.

Eric worked for Fat Apple’s in El Cerrito for two years, but he was eager to start another food business. So, in 1995, he set up shop, and later a restaurant, on Shattuck Avenue turning out fresh pasta at The Phoenix Pastifico. The company also makes a line of baked goods — cookies, macaroons, and biscotti  — as well as its signature olive bread and pasta sauces. … Continue reading »

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7 Berkeley restaurants get value nod from Michelin

Ippuku2
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Seven Berkeley dining spots have been named Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants. The ‘Bib’ is bestowed to restaurants where the Michelin judges deem one can eat well for $40 or less (plus tax and tip), and Michelin selected 77 such places for its 2012 San Francisco area guide.

Ippuku, the Japanese dining spot on Center Street, received the accolade for the first time. The other six are: Corso, eVe, Five, Gather, Rivoli, and Thai House.

Ippuku serves traditional yakitori and a wide selection of the Japanese spirit shochu, and has found a loyal following since it opened in July 2010. Not long after its launch, Alice Waters told Berkeleyside that it was one of her favorite haunts. “I really don’t want to tell too many people about it because I don’t want the place to get too busy,” she said.

Michael Bauer included Ippuku in the Chronicle’s Top 100 restaurant list for 2011 and praised chef Christian Geideman for his grilling expertise, and his partner Paul Discoe, who designed the restaurant, for his mastery in carpentry. … Continue reading »

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The culinary couple behind Berkeley’s Corso and Rivoli

Corso couple
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This is a story about a little neighborhood restaurant opened in 1994 — a shared vision between two partners in work and life, who built an acclaimed destination dining space serving up fresh, homey food with complex flavors and nods to Italian, French, and Californian cuisine.

And it’s the story of how this culinary couple followed the success of their first eatery by opening an authentic Tuscan trattoria nearby three years ago. That place proved popular with critics and customers too.

This is also the story of the enduring power of friendship and love. Friendship, respect, trust, admiration, and love in the face of the demise of a long-term marriage, where two people who see the essential good in each other decide it’s a bad idea to stay together. And so they go their separate ways personally but manage, despite the initial challenges of seeing the ex every single day, to keep working together as partners in a labor of love. … Continue reading »

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Ippuku in Top 100, 5 Berkeley restaurants make cut

Ippuku
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And now Ippuku in Berkeley joins the hallowed ranks of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 restaurants for the first time (published in yesterday’s paper, not yet available online).

Ippuku, which was given three stars by the Chronicle’s food critic and Top 100 compiler Michael Bauer in his October review,  joins four other Berkeley restaurants in the hall of fame — three of which are Top 100 veterans. They are: Chez Panisse/Café at Chez Panisse, O Chamé, Rivoli, and Corso Trattoria. The last two are both run by Wendy Brucker and Roscoe Skipper.

Ippuku was opened in 2010 by chef Christian Geiderman whose purist tendencies extend to not serving wine. Instead, the restaurant specializes in shochu, a Japanese spirit, and offers beer. … Continue reading »

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Bauer speaks: Rivoli thrives

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Chronicle food editor Michael Bauer returns to one of his favorite restaurants today, Rivoli in Berkeley, where he finds the food is “complex, but homey”, the veteran staff are well-trained, and “desserts remain some of the best in the Bay Area”.

Read his full report here.

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Neighborhood restaurants, part two

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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?:

Cugini and Rivoli on Solano in Thousand Oaks/Albany Inn Kensington on The Arlington in Kensington Kensington Circus Pub on Colusa in Kensington Mama Lan’s and Lalime’sContinue reading »

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