CREEKWOOD GRAND OPENING You may have noticed the light’s been on at long-anticipated Cal-Italian restaurant Creekwood in South Berkeley. The neighborhood eatery has been in progress since 2013, and owners Greg Poulios and Mark Louie recently hosted some “test” dinners for friends and area residents before officially opening its doors. Over the weekend, they took reservations for a quiet opening, but the official grand opening is tonight.
We stopped in on Sunday night to see what they’re cooking and found a promising start. Upon entry, the pizza oven is in plain sight in the open kitchen, but along with four different pizzas, Creekwood’s menu also offers several starters, four pasta dishes, two heartier entrees and a few vegetable sides. Prices range from $11 to $19 for appetizers, pizzas and pastas; a little more for entrees. Much of the menu is vegetarian-friendly, but both entrees were meaty (a half chicken served with panzanella and bavette steak with salsa verde). To drink, there’s beer on tap, along with Italian and California wines by the glass, bottle and tap and non-alcoholic drinks.
On our visit, we tried the little gem salad with soft boiled egg and pancetta, Margherita pizza and rigatoni with pork ragu and broccoli rabe, and were pleased with all three; the pizza crust was oh-so-thin and flavorful and the pasta was perfectly al dente and coated in a rich, hearty sauce. We were surprised that no desserts were offered at the quiet opening, but owner Greg Poulios assured us there’ll be desserts going forward. Creekwood will initially be open for dinner (5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday; 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday) before expanding its hours. Creekwood, 3121 Sacramento St. (at Woolsey Street), Berkeley
AND MORE PIZZA While we’re on the topic of pizza, this past weekend Rockridge got a new pizza restaurant. Former Asian-fusion restaurant Marica closed in July, but instead of calling it quits, the family that runs the business decided to change its focus. Now called Pizza Marica, the restaurant offers a variety of thin-crust pies, from a simple and traditional Margherita to a variety of pizzas topped with BBQ chicken, corn and pasilla peppers, and even shredded lobster. Other than pizza, the menu also offers two pastas (spaghetti and meatballs, pasta primavera), a soup, salads and some starters to share and two desserts. For refreshments, there are several local beers (on draft and by the bottle), wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Hours are currently 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., but the restaurant will add lunch hours (11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) after Thanksgiving. Pizza Marica, 5301 College Ave. (near Clifton), Oakland
PRE-THANKSGIVING BAKE SALE Tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., make a stop at Berkeley Kitchens, where several businesses will be open and offer some specials for your Thanksgiving table. Morrell’s Bread will be baking up plenty of loaves of traditional sourdough rye, multigrain, whole wheat and country breads, along with special Blue Hubbard pumpkin scones. Bakers Eduardo and Tamsen Morrell said there’ll be samples of their breads to try before you buy, along with some goodies from friends and Berkeley Kitchens neighbors Stonehouse California Olive Oil and Ruby’s Roast Coffee. Next door, French patisserie La Noisette Sweets will offer samples and sales of pumpkin pear tarts, pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate pumpkin tortes. And after picking up breads and pastries, stop into Standard Fare, which will be open for breakfast and lunch, where the seasonal dessert is persimmon pudding. Berkeley Kitchens, 2701 Eighth St. (at Carleton), Berkeley
TRUFFLE TREAT With the holidays upon us, it might be a good time to give yourself a break (and a little decadence) before succumbing to the last mad rush of gatherings, gift giving — and for better or worse — lots of time spent with family. We’ve got a suggestion for something extra fancy to treat yourself: On Dec. 9, Belotti is hosting its annual dinner featuring a five-course menu where white truffles are the main attraction. Chef Michele Belotti is still mum about what he’ll be cooking that night, but plans to release the complete menu about a week before the dinner. Last year, Belotti imported white truffles from a hunter in Piedmonte, Italy, and prepared a beef carpaccio, risotto and a beautiful polenta dish with a poached egg and plenty of shaved truffles. This year, with a better truffle harvest, we’re expecting a more bountiful, funk-filled Italian meal. Tickets, priced at $250 per person (we told you this is decadent stuff), just went on sale this morning, and as seats are limited to 30 diners, they require a $50 advance deposit to reserve. Belotti Ristorante, 5403 College Ave. (at Hudson), Oakland
KIDS EAT FREE On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re starting to scrimp and save because of the holidays, here’s something to note: Kids eat free on Tuesdays, and for $9 every other day, at Spanish tapas restaurant Telefèric Barcelona in Walnut Creek. What’s especially notable is that “kids” doesn’t mean toddlers and babies in this case; the deal is good for those aged 12 years and younger. There is a catch, though: the meal must be ordered off a special menu that features four savory items (chicken bites with piquillo pepper sauce, ham croquetas, chicken empanadas and mac and cheese) and one dessert (two scoops of ice cream); diners have the choice of combining any two items to make their meal, which could be fine for light eaters, but might need supplements for your hungrier brood. Telefèric Barcelona, 1500 Mt Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek
FEAST-IVAL OF LIGHTS Hanukkah starts on Dec. 2 this year and Comal in Berkeley is celebrating once again with its two-night Oaxanukkah feast, taking place Dec. 3 and 4. The multi-course, family-style dinner playfully and creatively combines traditional Hanukkah dishes with Oaxacan flavors. For its fourth Oaxanukkah dinner, chef Matt Gandin will revisit the same menu as last year (because why change a good thing?): tequila-cured salmon, potato-jalapeño latkes and braised beef brisket served with sides of saffron rice, black beans de olla, housemade tortillas, and rapini with chile arbol and garlic. The sweet ending for the night will be buñuelos (Mexican fritter donuts) served with Flavor King pluot-ginger marmelada. Seating is limited to 22 diners. Tickets are $75 including tip, but excluding tax and beverages. Oaxanukkah takes place at 6:30 p.m on Dec. 3 and 4 in Comal‘s private dining room, 2020 Shattuck Ave. (at University), Berkeley
COZY TIMES North Oakland’s Copper Spoon celebrated its first birthday with a little makeover, transforming its back dining room space into a new cozy area for drinks and bar bites. The new Golden State Lounge ditches most of the dining tables for a mix of vintage furniture and potted plants, which with the brick fireplace, gives the area a real cozy lving room vibe. Guests in the lounge can order off a special bar bites menu featuring items like Copper Spoon’s signature salmon hand roll, roasted cauliflower with fermented hot sauce, and a dish of mussels and gulf shrimp. From 4 to 6 p.m., happy hour hits the lounge with food and drink specials, including $5-$6 beers, cocktails, wines and shots and a grilled cheese sandwich with rosemary butter. Copper Spoon is also using the space to host (and rent out for) events, like DJ nights and dance parties. Copper Spoon, 4031 Broadway (at 41st), Oakland
FIRE RELIEF EFFORTS Join several East Bay food and drink businesses who are have gotten into the spirit of gratitude and giving by raising money or taking donations to help those affected by the Camp Fire:
For the next three Tuesdays (today, Nov. 27 and Dec. 3), Doña Tomás in Temescal will donate 10% of proceeds from lunch and dinner sales to a GoFundMe page created by Paradise native, Grant Kerber. Kerber is fundraising for North Valley Community Foundation. Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave. (between 51st and 49th), Oakland
One hundred percent of proceeds from tours and tastings taken Nov. 23-30 at St. George Spirits in Alameda will go to Sierra Nevada’s Camp Fire relief fund. St. George Spirits, 2601 Monarch St., Alameda
Drake’s Brewing Company is donating $5 for every ticket sold to its annual Hazy Daze of Winter event (happening Dec. 1) to the North Valley Community Foundation. Tickets to the hazy IPA fest are $50 ($5 for designated drivers). Drake’s Brewing Company, 1933 Davis St., San Leandro