Bites: Mama opens; Boot & Shoe changing name to Sister

A bowl of pasta from Mama, a new restaurant in Oakland.
Mama specializes in affordable, approachable “red sauce” Italian-American fare. Photo: Emma K. Morris/Mama Oakland

THE MOTHER LODE Oakland’s newest Italian restaurant, Mama, opened in the Adam’s Point neighborhood Monday. Josiah Baldivino and Stevie Stacionis, the husband-wife owners of Bay Grape wine shop, are the people behind it, and the concept is to be an affordable, approachable prix fixe neighborhood spot. Under the direction of chef Dorian Jones, Mama serves a seasonally changing three-course dinner menu, offered at $29.95, with a couple of choices each for a starter, pasta and dessert. In addition, there are simple sides, like bread (with oil and vinegar or anchovies and butter) and crispy pan-fried meatballs; or, for diners who want to tip a hat to the kitchen, an option to pay for a six-pack of beer for back-of-house staff. With wine experts as owners, vino at Mama will be another draw. According to the restaurant’s website, certified sommelier Baldivino has “chosen glasses and bottles from around the world that pair easily with relaxed dinners, plus a short reserve list of ‘baller bottles’ that changes frequently.” Mama, 388 Grand Ave. (between Perkins and Staten), Oakland

A slice of "grandma-style" pizza, now available on weekends at Boot & Shoe Service, soon to be renamed Sister.
A slice of “grandma-style” pizza, now available on weekends at Boot & Shoe Service (soon to be renamed Sister) in Oakland. Photo: Boot & Shoe Service

BREAKING AWAY Last week, another Grand Avenue Italian restaurant, Boot & Shoe Service, announced some news: Starting July 6, it became an all-day eatery, with new afternoon hours and an expanded counter-service café menu. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, Boot & Shoe’s daytime offerings include coffee and tea, housemade pastries and both small and large plates, along with wines, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. On weekends, it will also offer “grandma-style” pizza slices.

But even bigger news broke this week. The Chronicle first reported that Boot & Shoe owners Jen Cremer and Richard Clark, who bought the restaurant from Charlie Hallowell last summer, have decided to change its name. Starting next month, it will be called Sister. The couple said that although they originally resisted making big changes upon taking the reins, in the year that they’ve owned the business, they believe they have shifted the restaurant in a significantly new direction. As per a recent Nosh feature on the changes there, Cremer and Clark have focused on creating a warm, welcoming place for both diners and staff, an effort to distance the business from the shadow of Hallowell, who was accused by 31 former employees of sexual misconduct. While he is no longer involved with the eatery or its new owners, the association between Boot & Shoe and Hallowell is a hard one to shake, so a rebranding was in order. As Clark told the Chronicle, “Keeping the old name didn’t really make sense.” Boot & Shoe Service/Sister, 3308 Grand Ave. (between Mandana and Santa Clara), Oakland

HOW SWEET IT IS Cookbook author Leah Koenig has a new book out that will interest lovers of Jewish baked goods. Little Book of Jewish Sweets, the third release from Chronicle Books in the author’s “Little Book” series (previous releases include Little Book of Jewish Appetizers and Little Book of Jewish Feasts), features 25 recipes for traditional Jewish cakes, cookies and pastries. Koenig will launch her latest cookbook with a book signing at Saul’s Delicatessen in Berkeley. Attendees will be able to try samples of desserts from the book, like orange and chocolate rugelach, mocha black and white cookies, and cardamom-pistachio stuffed dates; a glass of wine from Berkeley’s kosher Covenant Wines and a discussion with Koenig and Saul’s owner Peter Leavitt about sweets and the culture of Jewish food. The book party takes place at 7 p.m. July 23. Tickets are $10. Saul’s Delicatessen, 1475 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine), Berkeley


NEW WINE TASTING OPP And speaking of Covenant Wines, the West Berkeley kosher winery has opened its doors for public tastings. Until recently, those interested in trying the Orthodox-approved selections at Covenant had to make arrangements with the winery to visit its Sixth Street location. But, as of last weekend, Covenant now invites wine lovers to drop in Sundays from 1-4:30 p.m., no appointment necessary. (And while you’re in the area, might as well stop by the other Berkeley wineries nearby for a taste.) Covenant Wines, 1102 Sixth St. (between Red Oak and Harrison), Berkeley

BASTILLE DAY EVENTS East Bay Francophiles looking to celebrate the other red, white and blue this month will have two Bastille Day events for you that do not require advance reservations:

Market Hall in Rockridge will hold its fourth annual Bastille Day Soirée this Saturday, from 1-3 p.m. There’ll be cheese and charcuterie tastings along with a variety of French ingredients and dishes at the Market Hall Foods deli; 10% off selected French wines at Paul Marcus Wines; an oyster bar and moules frites at Hapuku Fish Shop; and a boudin blanc sausage-making demo at Marin Sun Farms. Market Hall Foods in Rockridge, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter), Oakland

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley will celebrate the storming of the Bastille with a French wine tasting at Bartavelle on Saturday, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. A flight of four wines — Champagne J. Lassalle Brut Réserve “Cachet Or”; Daniel Chotard 2018 Sancerre; Famille Brunier 2017 Ventoux Rouge “Mégaphone”; and Domaine Pierre Guillemot 2017 Bourgogne Rouge — will be offered for $18. The tasting comes with a complimentary crostini duo but, if you’re hungry for more, Bartavelle’s kitchen will be open during the event. Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar, 1603 San Pablo Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley

FOODIE TALKS An upcoming discussion in Berkeley asks panelists, “How has your identity and culture shaped your relationship with food — and what do you want to see for the future of food?” Foodie Talks, an event hosted by Third Culture Bakery on July 21 from 1-3 p.m., will pick the brains of three Bay Area food folk: chef Tu David Phu, MavenCook co-founder Ingrid Goesnar, and Moustache Baked Goods and The Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar co-founder Christian Sullberg. Along with compelling conversation, the event promises banh mi from Phu’s upcoming pop-up BanhMi-Ni and desserts and drinks from Third Culture. Tickets are $15. Ciel Creative Space, 2611 Eighth St. (between Carleton and Parker), Berkeley

A loaf of cauliflower bread from Berkeley's Zazzi Foods sits on a cutting board with slices nearby.
The cauliflower loaf from Zazzi Foods is gluten-free, paleo and keto-friendly. Photo: Zazzi Foods

CAULIFLOWER POWER Zazzi Foods in Berkeley offers a cauliflower bread that’s been a hit with customers, including Berkeleyside staffer Doug Ng, who recently brought in a loaf to share in the office. The cauliflower loaf was developed by Zazzi owner Cassandra Chen; it’s gluten-free, paleo and keto-friendly, and is offered by the slice (as a substitute for any toast on the menu) or by the half or whole loaf. Although the loaf can be used for sandwiches, we enjoyed it — with its dense texture, savory flavor and topping of nutty, toasted black sesame seeds — on its own as an afternoon snack.

Along with Zazzi Foods, Chen also owns and operates Café Fanny Organic Granola and CC Made, a company that specializes in artisanal caramel sauces, popcorns and other confections. Recently, CC Made was added to the roster of vendors who will be at the new Warriors stadium, the Chase Center in San Francisco. According to Chen, CC Made products will be on the menu for private suites and at the popcorn stands at the arena. Zazzi Foods, 1398 University Ave. (at Acton), Berkeley

OCEAN VIEW + OAK BARREL COLLAB Vonnie Davidson, co-owner of Ocean View Brew Works, got in touch with Nosh to let us know about a new collab that she and her husband, co-owner and brewer Scott Davidson, are really excited to offer at their Albany neighborhood taproom. Screamin’ Eagle American Lite Lager was brewed at Ocean View with Homer Smith, manager of Berkeley’s homebrew shop Oak Barrel Winecraft. The beer aptly celebrated its release at Ocean View last week on July 4. Ocean View Brew Works, 627 San Pablo Ave. (between Garfield and Portland), Albany

INVESTING IN BREW Oakland’s Federation Brewing has its eyes on expansion. The two-year-old Jack London Square-based brewery recently started a campaign to grow its distribution across the Bay Area and open a second taproom. Using crowd-investing platform Wefunder, Federation is hoping to raise up to $500,000 from investors. Along with expanding sales by adding more wholesale accounts and opening a new location, the money will also help Federation expand its 30-beer line-up and improve its marketing and design. So far, Federation has raised more than $75,000.