Bites: Ba-Bite owner will bring Pomella to Piedmont Avenue; Commis 10-year anniversary dinner series

Ba-Bite was known for its fresh Israeli fare, including vegetable-forward mezze plates. Chef-owner Mica Talmor will bring back many of these dishes. Photo: Alix Wall

BA-BITE OWNER RETURNS WITH POMELLA Yesterday, writer Alix Wall first reported in J. Weekly that Mica Talmor, a chef-owner of Ba-Bite, will be returning to Piedmont Avenue with a new restaurant to open this fall. Pomella will share a space in the former Chow Oakland building with Doña Tomás’ follow-up Doña and another restaurant to come.

Last August, Talmor and her business partner Robert Gott, closed the popular Israeli restaurant because of a landlord dispute. Since then Gott has moved on from the food world, but Talmor has held on with her catering business. She will move the catering operation to the new space and open Pomella in stages. First, in September, as a market offering pre-packaged foods to be ordered online, and then — if all goes as planned — in November, as a fast-casual restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Pomella will bring back Ba-Bite favorites, like its fresh salads, hummus and sheep’s cheese-stuffed falafel. Talmor also plans to offer seasonal Jewish holiday foods like brisket, chopped liver and gefilte fish. Construction has yet to begin in the space, and Talmor will soon launch a crowdfunding campaign to help with Pomella’s opening. Sign up for Pomella’s email updates or follow Talmor on Instagram @pomellaoakland for progress news. Otherwise, stay tuned on Nosh, where we’ll have more details on Pomella as it nears opening. Pomella will be at 3770 Piedmont Ave. (at Yosemite), Oakland

James Syhabout in the kitchen at Commis in 2012. Photo: Emilie Raguso

COMMIS TURNS 10 In 2009, chef-owner James Syhabout opened prix-fixe fine-dining restaurant Commis. Although it opened with much anticipation and fanfare, its place in the Bay Area food scene was cemented when four months later, it earned a Michelin star, becoming the first restaurant in Oakland to boast the honor. (The year Commis opened, the New York Times described it as sitting “on a gritty stretch of Piedmont Avenue,” which goes to show how times — and perceptions of Oakland real estate — have changed in 10 years.) In 2016, Commis earned its second Michelin star, which it’s held onto ever since, and it’s still the sole restaurant in the East Bay to claim Michelin star status.


This summer, from July 10-Aug. 15, Syhabout will celebrate his restaurant’s ten-year milestone, inviting a talented roster of chef friends to make it extra special. Guest chefs — including the Bay Area’s Mourad Lahlou (Mourad, Amara in San Francisco) and David Kinch (Manresa in Los Gatos), as well as those from farther regions like Chris Kajiok (Senia Restaurant in Honolulu, HI) and Aaron Martinez (Elaia in St. Louis, MO) — will join Syhabout to collaborate on eight-course menus prepared for each night of the series. Tickets to each dinner are $210 (with an optional $120 beverage pairing, featuring wines, beer, sake and cider). Find the schedule and make reservations on Resy. Commis, 3859 Piedmont Ave. (between Montell and Rio Vista), Oakland

Signs are up for the new locatio of Marugame Udon & Tempura at UC Berkeley's Berkeley Way West building at 1919 Shattuck Ave.
Signs are up for the new locatio of Marugame Udon & Tempura at UC Berkeley’s Berkeley Way West building at 1919 Shattuck Ave. Photo: Sarah Han

MARUGAME UDON, NOAH’S Two food businesses are heading to UC Berkeley’s Berkeley Way West building. As Nosh reported in January, a large outpost of Noah’s NY Bagels will open on the ground floor. But, we also have news of a surprising development just next door, where a new outpost for Japanese chain, Marugame Udon and Tempura is to come. Marugame Udon currently has six U.S. outposts, including one in San Francisco at the Stonestown Mall, which opened last December. You may remember Marugame Udon had previously considered opening a location in Berkeley (at 48 Shattuck Sq., now occupied by Veggie Grill). As official signs for the restaurant have gone up at 1919 Shattuck Ave., it looks like this spot will really happen (fingers crossed). Nosh spoke with a general contractor inside the building, who said he believes it might open in a couple of months. Marugame Udon & Tempura and Noah’s NY Bagels will be at Berkeley Way West, 1919 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst), Berkeley  

IN THE SHADOWS Rockridge bookstore-café-event space Shadowlands (5254 College Ave.) is currently closed “pending further notice.” According to the café’s co-owner Sandra Shields, Shadowlands was closed by the Alameda County health department for operating without a grease interceptor in its drainage system, and was also cited for giving away food like coffee, tea and toast to bookstore customers. Shields said she and business partner Lou Chosen were unaware at the time they took over the space that the building was not up to compliance, but hope to work with building’s owner to install the interceptor. If all goes well, they plan to be back in business by July 17. But at this time, Shadowlands is closed and all scheduled events have been canceled.

ORCHIDS THAI CLOSED Another local food business is out of commission after a visit from the Alameda County health department. Orchids Thai (4113 Piedmont Ave.) has not been open since June 14, after a routine inspection found violations in the way the restaurant handled, stored and heated foods. According to the health department’s website, a follow-up inspection on June 19 found no violations. However, Orchids has not reopened and has not responded to inquiries from Nosh about whether it will reopen in the future.

OAKLAND’S CHEESIEST Mac and cheese is king at Homeroom, where diners can indulge in variations  — from classic to creative — of the ooey-gooey comfort food, so it’s not surprising the restaurant takes National Mac and Cheese Day seriously. While the official food holiday is July 14, Homeroom is starting its celebration a few days early and drawing out the festivities with a two-day event. From July 8-14, Homeroom will be offering two “all-time favorite flavors” on its menu — staff-pick Hawaiian Mac (bacon, Havarti cheese, scallions and pineapple) and crowd-pleaser Pizza Mac (mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni with crispy breadcrumb curst and an additional topping of choice). During the week, Homeroom will also host a photo booth, a prize wheel and be giving out mac and cheese temporary tattoos. But Homeroom’s mac and cheese blowout takes place July 13-14, and will feature live music, games, macaroni art and other activities for all ages. On July 14 at 2 p.m., the restaurant will hold a Mac & Cheese recipe contest, where aspiring chefs are invited to enter their wildest, cheesiest noodle creations. The winning dish will be featured as a special on Homeroom’s menu and the chef will receive a $250 gift card. Homeroom, 4007 Webster St. (at 40th), Oakland

NORTHSIDE GOES BOLLYWOOD Over in Berkeley’s Northside neighborhood, Bollywood music and colorful movie posters invite diners in to try the eats at a new fast-casual Indian restaurant called Bollywood Café. As its former occupants Jasmine Thai once did, Bollywood Café offers ready-made dishes in hot trays, but now, with a rotating offering of Indian curries, rices and fried samosas. Dishes can be ordered as single items or combos, priced at $7-$12. Bollywood Café, 1805 Euclid Ave. (near Ridge), Berkeley 

OCEAN’S DELIGHT From July 9-14, Oakland’s Oliveto restaurant will host its annual Oceanic Dinners. Taking place for an 18th year, the dinner event features seasonal and sustainable seafood sourced by the restaurant’s trusty fishmonger Tom Worthington of Berkeley’s Monterey Fish Market. Using this fresh catch (which Oliveto owner Bob Klein says is plentiful and varied this year), the restaurant’s executive chef Brian Griffith has prepared a menu of inventive a la carte offerings for fish and shellfish lovers. Some of the most intriguing menu items are on Griffith’s crudi and starter menus, such as scallop in its shell with plums, black truffle, buttermilk, and chocolate-mint; snapper with peaches, green almonds, jalapeño pepper and basil pesto; coon-stripe shrimp with strawberries, horseradish, pickled ramps, and old aceto balsamico; and smoked salmon, squid ink brioche, black garlic aïoli, and dill. The seafood pastas and entrees feature more familiar combinations, like Acquerello Carnaroli risotto with lobster, Chanterelle mushrooms, and hazelnuts; white sea bass cioppino and seared bay halibut with pancetta potato cake and truffle salsa. Oliveto, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter), Oakland


LET IT BLOOM Oakland’s Free Range Flower Winery, which makes wines with flowers, not grapes, will celebrate its first anniversary with three tasting events of its three wines: “L” Sparkling Lavender Wine, RoseHybiscus Wine and “R” Rose Petal Wine. First up on July 11, from 5-9 p.m., Free Range Flower Winery joins forces with alaMar Kitchen & Bar (100 Grand Ave., Oakland), where chef Nelson German will offer pairings like braised oxtails and charred heirloom carrots with sriracha truffle hummus, pea shoot and mango salsa verde. On July 12, from 5-9 p.m., at Revival Bar & Kitchen (2102 Shattuck Ave.), expect dishes like deviled eggs with preserved lemon, herbs and trout roe and beet fettuccine with toasted walnuts, goat cheese, and spring vegetables. Finally, on July 14, from 1-5 p.m., the winery will be at Wine & Design (204 Broadway, Oakland) for a “Paint & Sip” event, where the wines will be offered with cheese, crudite and other small bites as guests create their own works of art. RSVP with Free Range Flower Winery.