Bites: Donato & Co. to open, Wildcard and Hawking Bird to come

Donato & Co. is hosting an apericena party on Oct. 6 to celebrate its opening. Photo: Donato & Co.

DONATO & CO. GRAND OPENING PARTY Chef-restaurateur Donato Scotti’s new restaurant is just about to open in the Elmwood. As Nosh reported in August, Scotti has brought on chef Gianluca Guglielmi to create a menu focusing on seasonal and contemporary takes on Italian cuisine. Before it officially opens for regular service, Donato & Co. is throwing a grand opening party called Apericena, co-hosted with San Francisco food blog Tablehopper on Oct. 6. For $45 (plus service fee), guests will get a first taste of some of the dishes from Donato & Co.’s upcoming menu like antipasti, house made pasta and grilled meats, including quail lollipops and roasted pig, as well as a selection of dolci (desserts). The name of the party, Apericena, refers to the style of eating that’s trendy in Italy these days. A combination of aperitivo (pre-dinner drink and snacks) and cena (dinner), the resulting meal is more bites than entrees, made up of dishes like antipasti, small plates and more ample hors d’oeuvres, to be enjoyed while socializing over drinks, like prosecco or a cocktail. So at this event, expect passed trays of food, rather than a sit-down meal. A ticket will get you plenty to eat and three drink tickets, too. A portion of the profits from the event will go to Berkeley’s Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP), a nonprofit which provides sports, fitness and recreation programs for people with disabilities. Apericena takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 6. Donato & Co., 2635 Ashby Ave. (at College), Berkeley 

PIEDMONTESE WINE PAIRING DINNER While we’re on the topic of Italian food, Rockridge restaurant Belotti announced a special five-course dinner with Italian wine producer, Braida. The meal, taking place on Oct. 10, will focus on Piedmontese fare, as Braida is from the Piedmont region of Italy and Belotti specializes in many dishes from the region. The pairing of the two should be a natural (and delicious) fit. Food will be served family-style and will include such dishes as Vitello Tonnato (sliced veal served with a Sicilian tuna sauce), battuta (beef tartare made with dry-aged ribeye), agnolotti (stuffed pasta), brasato (slow-braised beef) and zabaione (an Italian dessert beverage that’s akin to egg nog). Tickets to this special meal are $120 (plus service fee) and can be purchased on Brown Paper Tickets. Norbert Reinisch of Braida winery will be on hand at the dinner to explain the pairings. Belotti Ristorate e Bottega, 5403 College Ave. (at Hudson), Oakland

CHEERS TO THE WEST COAST COCKTAIL New York gets a lot of credit for bringing back the artistry and popularity of cocktails, but according to Shanna Farrell, the West Coast — and the Bay Area in particular — played an integral part in the modern cocktail renaissance. She should know, because for the past few years, she’s been digging deep into West Coast cocktail history. An oral historian at UC Berkeley’s Oral History Center (and a Nosh contributor, too), Farrell has interviewed historians, bartenders, bar owners and distillers for her book “Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft,” which was released earlier this month. Farrell, who lives in San Francisco, will be in the East Bay this weekend promoting her new book. First, at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, Farrell will be at St. George Spirits Alameda, where she’ll talk about what she learned from her interviews with the local distillers and bartenders who helped revitalize the cocktail scene. Tickets are $20 (plus service fee), and also include a tour of St. George, samples of their spirits and a signed copy of “Bay Area Cocktails.” (Note, this event is for 21+ only). Next, at 5 p.m. on Sun, Oct. 1, Farrell will be at Umami Mart in Old Oakland, where she’ll give a free talk about what makes the Bay Area cocktail community unique, including how the West Coast has a particular way of using certain bar tools. After the discussion, Farrell will sign copies of her book. St. George Spirits, 2601 Monarch St., Alameda; Umami Mart, 815 Broadway (between 8th and 9th), Oakland

BEER TODAY, GONE NOVEMBER Pacific Coast Brewing Company in Old Oakland will close its doors this November. The small production brewery opened in 1988, years before the now-ubiquitous craft brewing scene exploded in Oakland. On Sept. 21, the Pacific Coast made an announcement, explaining its closure is “due to the uncertainty of our current lease, and the rapid changes coursing through the Bay Area’s restaurant industry.” Fortunately, Pacific Coast is giving its customers two months notice to enjoy the pub while it can. It will be offering menu specials, including a few of its most popular dishes from the past, and will continue to host events, including a four-day Last Anniversary Celebration, taking place Oct. 19 through 22. So Pacific Coast fans, you have two months to say your good byes and cry into your beer. Pacific Coast Brewing, 906 Washington St. (between 9th and 10th), Oakland


WILDCARD BREWING TO ALBANY While Oakland will be losing a craft beer bar, Albany will soon be getting a new one. Wildcard Brewing, based in Redding, CA, will open a tasting room at 1122 Solano Ave. Wildcard co-founder Jenny Hansen told Nosh in an email, “We are very excited about this location. It will be our only tasting room outside of Redding where our brewery is located.” Wildcard is co-run by Hansen and her husband, Jeff Hansen, who went from passionate home brewer to legit brewmaster after studying the craft at Brewlab in Sunderland, England. The couple opened their 15-barrel brewery in Redding in 2012. Wildcard’s Albany tasting room is still in the preliminary stages of construction, so an opening date is still TBD. Stay tuned on Nosh, where we’ll keep you abreast of any updates.

Hawker Fare’s khao mun gai is coming back! Photo: Kate Williams

THE BIRD’S THE WORD Oakland suffered a big loss when Hawker Fare closed early this year, but fans of  James Syhabout’s Thai-Issan restaurant will cheer with this news: Syhabout is opening a Hawker Fare spin-off in Temescal. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Hawking Bird will take over the Blackwater Station space at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue on Oct. 1 (opening date of the restaurant, however, is TBD) and will offer a small menu “based around chicken.” One of its offerings will probably be Hawker Fare’s khao mun gai, a poached chicken and rice dish that seems to be the dish of the moment in the East Bay. Syhabout seems to have an endless appetite for opening restaurants and bars. While he closed Hawker Fare in Oakland, he still has a location in SF, as well as Old Kan Beer Co. in Jack London, Michelin-starred Commis on Piedmont Avenue and he’s in the midst of working on a new bar next door to Commis called C.D.P.

WESTSIDE CAFÉ GETS NEW NAME Back in July, we reported that Westside Café changed ownership. At the time, Randa (or Sofia, as most people call her) and Al Ammso were just getting settled into their new digs. Westside had been a West Berkeley institution for 31 years, so the Ammsos had big shoes to fill. We dropped in this week, when we heard that the café had a new name; it is now called 9th Street Café. The Ammsos decided on the change due to the urgings of their customers. Sofia Ammso said some of those customers were Westside diehard fans, who felt it was a misrepresentation to keep the old name, as not only did the café get new owners, but it also has a completely different menu, look and hours. (Two things that haven’t changed — several of Westside’s employees are still working at the café and it still offers Westside’s breakfast menu). Ammso said that so far, business has been good and the neighborhood has been welcoming, but she said shedding the name will give her a chance to have a fresh start. Ammso moved to the U.S. from Jordan about 40 years ago, and she has brought what she knows best to the menu at 9th Street — Mediterranean food including dishes like fattoush (a salad made with tomato, cucumber, red onion and mint), freshly made falafel, lebneh (a yogurt cheese spread) or what Ammso says is the house specialty: the chicken shawarma sandwich, marinated with her special blend of herbs and spices and served with pickled turnip, tahini, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. All of the dishes at 9th Street Café are made from scratch. Aside from Mediterranean fare, it also serves American café standards, like a cheeseburger, several salads and sandwiches and a rotating weekday specials menu, with dishes like meatloaf (Monday), lasagna (Wednesday) and chicken schnitzel (Thursday). 9th Street Café, 2570 Ninth St. (at Parker), Berkeley

The new exterior and signage of Mi Tierra Foods in West Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

MI TIERRA RENOVATION Speaking of changes in West Berkeley, Mexican grocery store Mi Tierra on San Pablo Avenue recently celebrated the finalization of its expansion and renovation. On Sept. 15, Mayor Jesse Arreguín was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony, which coincided with the installation of the store’s new signage and the first day of Hispanic Heritage month. Construction at the market began about a year ago, but changes have occurred in stages, and the new sign was the very last change. One of the biggest renovations occurred within the last four months. Mi Tierra reconfigured its check-out area and meat department to make room for its made-to-order food area with ample indoor seating. On the outside, longtime customers will immediately notice that the dark green awning is now gone and the new sign has a modern look. But don’t worry, the mural on the side of the building is still there. Mi Tierra Foods, 2082 San Pablo Ave. (between University and Addison), Berkeley. 

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