Bites is Berkeleyside Nosh’s round-up of restaurant, bar and food-related news in the East Bay. To stay up-to-speed with all that’s going on locally, read our daily Nosh Wire, and check out previous editions of Bites. We always love receiving food-related tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PIZZA DEBUT Mark your calendars: Build Pizzeria Roma, which we wrote about in October, is set to open in downtown Berkeley at 2286 Shattuck Ave. on April 11. We’ve been told the 120 plus-seat “loft-like contemporary dining room, designed by Lisa Holt and Abueg Morris Architects, includes repurposed materials from local sources” and has a contemporary Italian feel. It joins other pizza newcomers Pizza MODA on University, in the former Fellini space, and Sliver Pizzeria (in a small storefront on Center Street). (There are also Kensington pizzeria Benchmark and Jules Thin Crust, which was set to open in March in Rockridge, not to mention The Forge in Jack London Square.)
Build will bake pizzas in wood-fired ovens set to run at 800 to 1,000 degrees, “high enough to bake each individualized pizza in under three minutes.” Organic, locally sourced, farm-to-table ingredients are the focus, and a gluten-free crust option will be available. The business has created a foundation to “raise money for worthy local and national causes and organizations on an ongoing basis.” Build plans to feature 16 local craft beers on tap, “curated by Brandon Borgel, a veteran of the craft beer movement, as well as 12 Northern California wines on tap, plus an Italian-focused wine list by the bottle.” The restaurant will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Learn more on Build’s website.
MORE BEER NEWS Speaking of craft beer, we have a quick update on our feature from last week about a “nano-brewpub” planned for the Lorin District. The business will be called Hoi Polloi Brewpub, and owner Viet Vu told us the background: “I always liked the idea of the 99% so to speak. I always liked the idea of: This is who we all are, this mass of people. I grew up in a working-class background, and the name kind of represents that.” Vu’s small beer manufacturer license is pending.
STELLAR SUSHI We’ve been hearing great things about Kiku Sushi in North Berkeley, at 1316 Gilman St. The restaurant appears to have opened quietly in October. It took the place of Tiny Thai, a popular spot in itself, which apparently closed in August. Yelpers describe Kiku as “Not cheap, but neither are the ingredients!” and “an amazing alternative to Kirala.” If you’ve tried it, share your feedback about it in the comments section.
COFFEE CASUALTY We received a tip earlier this month that Sonoma Coffee Café, at 2131 Durant Ave., was closing March 22. Calls to the business have not been returned this week, but the café appeared to be closed when a member of our team did a drive-by. We’ll provide an update if we can get more information.
GREAT CHINA RESTAURANT Fourteen months after a grease fire ripped through Great China on Kittredge, forcing it to close, construction is set to begin on a larger, more modern restaurant in a new location. Work should start in the next two weeks at Great China’s new space at 2190 Bancroft Ave. near Fulton, said the architect Tai Yu, whose family owns the restaurant. (His father Michael Yu and brother James Yu run the actual restaurant.) The new space (former site of Looney’s) will be 4,600 square feet — much larger than the old space — and will have a more modern look, recycled finishes and sprinklers. “The food will remain the same,” said Yu, as the former chef and line cooks will return. The new restaurant, however, will place more emphasis on improving service. “We are going to try and provide a better ambiance for our patrons,” he said. Yu said the family hopes the new Great China will open in August.
EASTER SUNDAY With Easter coming up this weekend, many restaurants are hosting special brunches. We noted several in last week’s edition of Bites, at Bocanova, Camino and Ajanta. But wait, wait, there’s more. Haven is holding a special brunch for $60 a person with roasted pig, arugula salad, crab hollandaise on house-made English muffins and a dessert of lemon curd “pie” (we’re not sure what the quotations mean). Five, Local Café and Bistro Liaison are also advertising special menus or dishes. Revival Bar+Kitchen is having Easter supper. According to East Bay Dish, Lungomare will offer an Italian-inspired buffet and Lake Chalet has brunch specials. The Pasta Shop has a special Easter menu. Many places are closed, so be sure to call ahead to confirm availability. If you’ve heard about other options, let us (and your fellow diners) know in the comments.
PICKLING PARTY Grand Lake Kitchen is kicking off a number of special events, including “Passover-inspired” menus through April 1 (see our special Passover story), and a pickling workshop on May 7 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Get connected for more details via Grand Lake Kitchen online.
DIABLO DOES THE DISH Diablo Dish highlights a Kickstarter campaign for “Marrow” in Oakland, a new restaurant being planned by Jon Kosorek who used to run Jon’s Street Eats; the planned April opening of Fournée Bakery in Berkeley; a recent review of Duende; an update on The Forge pizzeria in Oakland; and Fonda is under new ownership, as tipped by us in a previous Bites.
BAGEL EXPLOSION With all the new bagel shops around town, you may have been bitten by the bug yourself. If you’re interested in learning how to “mix, shape, boil, bake and eat the most spectacular bagels you’ve ever tasted,” Laurie’s Kitchen near College and Claremont avenues is offering a class April 7 at 2 p.m. Rockridge resident Laurie Leiber says she has taken a three-day baking process “and condensed it into 2+ hours of fun. Participants get step-by-step instruction and a detailed recipe. The bold and adventurous may even opt to take home dough to boil and bake the next day.” Baking experience is not required. The cost is $25 per person, and the class is limited to eight people. For more details, email Laurie at email@example.com.
SPECIAL MENUS We’ve heard (via Tablehopper) that Dopo will offer a special Roman-themed menu each Tuesday through June 25. Oliveto is holding a three-course prix-fixe “Winemaker Dinner,” with help from Tres Sabores and Villa Ragazzi wineries, for $98 from 7-11 p.m. The meal will feature Faraona Guinea hens from Tres Sabores and wine pairings from both spots.
GET COOKING Rosetta Costantino, a Calabrian-born cook who now lives in Oakland, offers a range of popular classes that feature southern Italian food. They sell out fast but, as of now, she still seems to have room in some that are coming up this summer. They include A Taste of Calabria; A Night in a Neapolitan Pizzeria; Homemade Pasta from Calabria; The Queen of Vegetables: Eggplant from Appetizer to Dessert; and A Tomato Dinner from my garden. Constantino has also announced the completion of her second cookbook, Southern Italian Desserts, which will be released in October.
EBX FOOD SPOTLIGHT The East Bay Express focuses much of its current issue on food, with a look at street food; community-supported agriculture; underground dining; foodie “staycations“; chefs making house-made ketchup; favorite East Bay Express staffer meals; and the staff’s top 10 brunch spots.
This week’s Nosh news (in case you missed it)
Berkeley’s new hot sauce shop turns up the heat
A taste of summer: A good fit at Boot & Shoe Service
Contest: Name that nosh
Nosh on the town: Crixa Cakes
The Nosh Wire: 03.27.13
The Nosh Wire: 03.26.13
The Nosh Wire: 03.25.13
Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant openings, happenings and closings in the East Bay. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.