East Bay restaurant openings and closings in July

Our monthly list features 16 new restaurants, 11 that have closed for good, and 3 on indefinite hiatus. 

Fabrizio and Eleonora Cercatore stand in masks outside of Passione Emporio in Berkeley.
Siblings Fabrizio and Eleonora Cercatore in front of Passione Emporio in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

The COVID-era roller coaster continues, with East Bay food and drink venues — many of them just reopening after temporary closure — pivoting to safely accommodate outdoor dining, contact-free takeout and delivery. Others, like Corso, are taking a much-needed rest to reassess. Nosh continues to refresh local lists and provide up-to-date food-related news and alerts for the community. More than ever, we appreciate and hope to support the members of the food and service industries at this uncertain and risky time.

The following items spotlight the East Bay eateries that are brand new, ones that have closed for good and a few that are on indefinite hiatus. 

If you know of others, please let us know in the comments or by emailing nosh@berkeleyside.com.

Berkeley

Open

The hamachi crudo — raw yellowtail, pickled grape, breakfast radish, roe and yuzu kosho coconut cream — from Abstract Table at Cafenated Coffee Company in Berkeley. Photo: Cafenated Coffee Company
The hamachi crudo — raw yellowtail, pickled grape, breakfast radish, roe and yuzu kosho coconut cream — from Abstract Table can be ordered for pickup or outdoor dining at Cafenated Coffee Company in Berkeley. Photo: Cafenated Coffee Company

ABSTRACT TABLE AT CAFENATED COFFEE COMPANY Abstract Table, the high-end, art-inspired pop-up from Duncan Kwitkor and Andrew Greene, formerly hosted by Oakland eatery The Gastropig, has moved to Cafenated Coffee Company in North Berkeley. Customers can order takeout or make outdoor dining reservations Thursday through Sunday evenings at the cafe’s lovely back patio. Abstract Table at Cafenated Coffee, 2085 Vine St. (between Henry Street and Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley


THE CHEF KITCHEN Open now for take-out and delivery at the campus end of University Avenue is The Chef Kitchen, in the former Taste of Pakistan spot. It features Indian and Pakistani food and wraps. The Chef Kitchen, 2160 University Ave. (at Oxford Street), Berkeley

DELHI DINER BERKELEY Opened July 15, this Indian eatery on Telegraph Avenue comes from husband-and-wife owners Krishna and Subhash Arora, whose sit-down Indian restaurant Delhi Diner has been an Albany staple for seven years. The new Berkeley location shares a menu with the Solano Avenue restaurant, but the focus is on portable, budget-friendly street foods. Vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diners take note: There are plenty of choices for you here. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, to go or for delivery only. Delhi Diner Berkeley, 2400 Telegraph Ave. (at Channing Way), Berkeley

PASSIONE EMPORIO In response to the current crisis, and with no need for a dining room just yet, busy restaurateur Fabrizio Cercatore has opened the door to Passione Emporio in West Berkeley. Despite the grand-sounding name, the casual venue is a simple threshold takeout counter for now, selling wood-fired pizzas in 10-inch and 14-inch sizes; lasagna (for both carnivores and vegetarians); and Cercatore’s own Passione-brand organic retail products — pizza dough, dried pasta and gelato made by his sister and co-owner, chef Eleonora Cercatore. Passione Emporio also sells wine to go — a mini “emporium” just right for right now. (Cercatore’s Passione Caffe in downtown Berkeley is temporarily closed as of last week, though in happy news it will welcome Puerto Rican eatery La Perla for pop-ups starting in August.) Passione Emporio, 2324 Fifth St. (between Bancroft Way and Channing Way), Berkeley

Closed

ANIMAL PLACE’S VEGAN REPUBLIC The Berkeley vegan specialty store closes its doors for good today after five years at 1624 University Ave. According to its website, “sales declined substantially since the beginning of Covid-19,” despite the store’s efforts to pivot to an online model. (Although the pandemic likely hammered the last nails in its coffin, Vegan Republic had been suffering financial losses even before COVID-19 reared its ugly head — last year, the business put out a plea for support.) Opened in February 2014 under the name Republic of V, it was the first 100% vegan grocery store in the Bay Area. In 2015, it changed names when founders Joe Haptas and Noelle Callahan sold the market to Grass Valley nonprofit sanctuary Animal Place. Since then, all profits from the store have gone to helping rescued farm animals living at the sanctuary.

The Snack Shack's sign sits in front of a trash can outside the former space.
The Snack Shack has closed for good. We spotted the sign by the trash can outside. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

SNACK SHACK This Northside favorite for burgers, fries, milkshakes and beer moved around the corner from Hearst to Euclid in late 2019, keeping both properties and renaming the original, smaller spot Snack Box. Despite good reviews, the expansion was short-lived: Snack Box closed within two months, and though the higher-visibility Snack Shack had promise, it closed along with everything else in March and, Nosh has confirmed, will remain closed for good. Snack Shack was at 1828 Euclid Ave.


Oakland

Open

ALKALI RYE Jessica Moncada and Kori Chen’s specialty bottle shop and tasting room is now open. As first reported in Bites in February, Alkali Rye takes over the former Alchemy Bottle Shop and is now selling craft spirits, natural wine and beer, along with tea and coffee. Alkali Rye is currently open for in-store shopping (11 a.m to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday), and on Wednesdays, is the East Bay pickup spot for bento boxes from San Francisco’s Rintaro. Alkali Rye, 3256 Grand Ave. (between Lake Park Avenue and Mandana Boulevard), Oakland

THE DAMEL Afro-Brazilian restaurant The Damel, formerly a pop-up inside the 25th St. Taproom, has found a home of its own in downtown Oakland in what was Suya Afro-Caribbean Grill on Broadway. Chef Oumar Diouf’s savory fare — empanadas, acaraje (Brazilian fritters), Senegalese dibi made with halal grilled lamb chops or chicken, and plenty more — is available for take-out or third-party delivery. Note: Keep an eye out for a Damel food truck, rumored to begin operating soon. The Damel, 1312 Broadway (between 13th and 14th streets), Oakland

The catfish po' boy from JusLa Eats, now operating out of Palmetto in Oakland. Photo: JusLa Eats
The catfish po’ boy from JusLa Eats, now operating out of Palmetto in Oakland. Photo: JusLa Eats

JUSLA EATS AT PALMETTO Bites let us know about this pop-up reanimating temporarily-closed Palmetto, serving soulful Cajun and Southern cuisine (by way of California) from chef LaLa Harrison. There are fried chicken and biscuit sandwiches. There are blackened catfish beer-battered tacos. And there are Southern-style burritos filled with red beans and rice, cornbread crumble, shrimp, gravy — you heard us, the menu is here. Jusla Eats at Palmetto, 1900 Telegraph Ave. (at 19th Street), Oakland

THE KITCHEN AT ROCKY’S MARKET We reported on this pretty new Brooklyn Basin market’s opening in April, and this month, Bites had the scoop on the store’s new eatery, The Kitchen at Rocky’s Market. For now, casual-but-coveted eats — including Boichik Bagels and Starter Bakery pastries, classic egg dishes, a kid’s menu and soft-serve ice cream — can be enjoyed to go or on the spacious waterfront patio. The Kitchen at Rocky’s Market, 288 Ninth Ave. (between Brooklyn Basin Way and Clinton Lane), Oakland

A plate of tacos from La Frontera Mexican Restaurant in Oakland. Photo: La Frontera Mexican Restaurant
La Frontera Mexican Restaurant offers $1 tacos on Tuesdays from 8-10 p.m. Photo: La Frontera Mexican Restaurant

LA FRONTERA MEXICAN RESTAURANT We missed this one earlier in the year, but it’s never too late to mention hot new taco spots, in particular those known for their quesabirria. Owner Valentino Carrillo opened La Frontera in February, and is currently helping spice up the quality of pandemic life with deals like $1 Taco Tuesdays, and generous taco family packs to go. Outdoor seating is also available; the restaurant is open daily at 9 a.m. La Frontera Mexican Restaurant, 4481 International Blvd. (at 45th Avenue), Oakland


MASABAGA Another anticipated newcomer boldly opened mid-worldwide-crisis, Masabaga, in the space that formerly housed Hutch Bar & Kitchen, features a spare, stylish menu of Japanese-inflected, burger-like sandwiches available for take-out. There are three available for now: the Saba, made with Norwegian mackerel; the signature Masabaga, cradling a slab of panko-coated, deep-fried yellowfin or bigeye tuna belly; and an actual burger crafted with American wagyu, along with simple adds such as a green salad, fries and specialty tapioca crackers. Owner is chef Masa Sasaki, the Michelin-starred sushi chef formerly of Maruya and chef-owner of Sasaki in San Francisco; partner is Chikara Ono, chef-restaurateur of AS B Dama, Delage (where Sasaki was opening chef in 2016) and Utzutzu. Uptown has given the venue, its bagas and (curry) fries an extremely warm welcome so far. Masabaga, 2022 Telegraph Ave. (between 20th and 21st streets), Oakland

OAKLANDIA CAFE Readers brought small-but-mighty Oaklandia Cafe to our attention, reborn from former Coffee Roma just before the pandemic hit, and now reopened for housemade bread and pastries, sandwiches and sides for breakfast and lunch, and Mr. Espresso coffee drinks to go. Its decadent Black & Brown latte is made with caramel, dark chocolate and whipped cream. Yes, please. Oaklandia Cafe, 371 30th St. (between Summit and Webster streets), Oakland

OAKLAND STREET FOOD CO. Now softly open is Oakland Street Food Co., in the former Camburger spot, with a menu of tangy, spicy, fusion-y local favorites for take-out (tacos, lumpia, gumbo) that look seriously tasty. Oakland Street Food Co., 430 13th St. (at Broadway), Oakland

PHILLY’S BEST Enthusiastic reviews so far for the first Bay Area location of this franchise, born in 1992 in Southern California, by way of Philadelphia. Cheesesteak sandwiches and hoagies — including a good-looking Italian — are made with Amoroso’s rolls; TastyKakes and Taylor Ham were spied on the menu. East Coasters, we’re speaking your language and will see you there. Philly’s Best, 8460 Edgewater Dr. (at Hegenberger Road), Oakland

RUBY Q SMOKE FUSION There is some big energy coming from the direction of the Aloha Club these days. The 100-year-old bar has hosted La Grana Fish truck since April and is now also home to new barbecue startup Ruby Q Smoke Fusion. Whereas some eateries are quietly surviving the pandemic, Ruby Q has hit its new kitchen and take-out window, well, smokin’. Along with smoked meat by the pound (brisket, spare ribs, chicken), smoked quesadillas, nachos, and Louisiana-style seafood gumbo, there are also smoked veggies and a menu of vegan options, all available to go or to eat on the outdoor patio. Ruby Q Smoke Fusion, 954 Fruitvale Ave. (at East 10th Street), Oakland

TWINS HALAL HOUSE & BAKERY Nourishing, organic Afghan food is on offer at this new, family-owned McClymonds neighborhood eatery, featuring rice dishes, salads, gyro and fresh-baked Afghan breads and desserts to go. Open daily from 10 a.m. Twins Halal House & Bakery, 2608 Market St. (between 26th and 27th streets), Oakland

Closed

INDEPENDENT BREWING COMPANY The Chronicle first reported the shuttering this month of Steve McDaniel’s Independent Brewing Company, opened in Jack London Square in 2014. The neighborhood brewery — known for ales such as Sticky Zipper IPA (McDaniel’s signature, honed during his years with the Oakland Brewing Company) Fly Trap Amber and Town Biz lager — was a funky, independent-yet-inclusive gathering place that managed to lead (it was the first brewery to touch down in that area) and simultaneously shrug off trends. Live bands, DJs, artists, dogs, kids —all were welcome here, and for regulars, the closure is a bitter pils to swallow. Independent Brewing Company was at 444 Harrison St.


KOREAN SOUEL BBQ Korean Souel BBQ, of the much-praised bibimbap and interesting spelling that was neither “soul” nor “Seoul” but perhaps meant to evoke both, closed this spring after three years. Nick’s Pizza is plotting a move into the newly-free space, that includes a small, fence-bound patio. Korean Souel BBQ was at 6400 Shattuck Ave.

Zero-waste grocery store and cafe MudLab has moved into the former Perch Coffee House. Photo: Sarah Han
Zero-waste grocery store and cafe MudLab has moved into the former Perch Coffee House. Photo: Sarah Han

PERCH Perch Coffee House served its last cup of coffee last month, as first reported by the Chronicle. The cafe’s sudden announcement on Instagram described the length of its run as from “2014 to COVID-19.” The roomy, very visible space within view of Lake Merritt is now the new location of MudLab. Perch was at 440 Grand Ave.

STAY GOLD TEMESCAL Bites first reported this months-old loss for Temescal; sandwich-lovers at Nosh have high hopes that the West Oakland location of Stay Gold will stay open. (It’s temporarily closed for now.) Stay Gold Temescal was at 4935 Shattuck Ave.

SUN SING PASTRY DIM SUM Hoodline reports that the longtime Oakland Chinatown dim sum bakery has closed. It was at 382 Eighth St.

SUYA AFRICAN-CARIBBEAN GRILL (BROADWAY) Just before The Damel moved in, Oakland said goodbye last month to the three-year-old downtown branch of Suya African-Caribbean Grill. Note to fans: Though this and the Berkeley Suya locations closed this year, Suya at 408 22nd St. is still open and busy. Suya Caribbean Grill Broadway was at 1312 Broadway.

Beyond

Open

EL GARAGE It didn’t need much help given its already large fanbase, but since Eater SF’s Luke Tsai spread the word of this family-run birria eatery’s first brick-and-mortar (formerly a cottage business out of their driveway), let’s just say El Garage has been selling out quickly. Order online to join the patient weekend customers, lined up for the Montano family’s famed birria tacos with or without cheese, cups of extra consomme and generous aguas frescas. El Garage, 1428 Macdonald Ave. (between 15th Street and Marina Way), Richmond.

Closed

Cabbage soup and borscht are offered for lunch or dinner at Mama Papa Lithuania.
We’ll miss the hearty cabbage soup and borscht at Mama Papa Lithuania. Photo: Mama Papa Lithuania

MAMA PAPA LITHUANIA RESTAURANT & TEA HOUSE Today marks the last day for this charming Alameda restaurant and beer garden, the “only Lithuanian restaurant on the West Coast,” known for hearty specialties such as pierogies, borscht, dumplings, sausages and stuffed cabbage rolls, as well as its menu of Eastern European beers, delicate amber tea and rich desserts (the honey cake!). Opened in 2013, by owner Vaidas Sukys, the Bay Area can thank the owner’s tireless mother, chef Danute Sukiene, for its introduction to Lithuanian cuisine. According to the Chronicle, Sukys is closing up shop to pursue politics in his home country. Mama Papa Lithuania was at 1241 Park St. in Alameda.

MIRAGLIA CATERING COMPANY The 72-year-old, family-owned catering company says it’s another victim of the coronavirus. In an interview with ABC7, owner Cheryl Miraglia said that while the business opened during World War II and had overcome great challenges over its long tenure — including “the dot-com demise,” her husband’s heart transplant and the 2008 recession — the current pandemic was just too difficult for the company to keep going. Miraglia was only getting about 7% of its normal business when it decided to call it quits.

PRIMA RISTORANTE Italian restaurant PRIMA began its life in 1977, as delicatessen Walnut Creek Wine & Cheese from owners Michael and Janet Verlander. Inspired by a meal in Italy, the Verlanders expanded the space in the late 1980s into a combined Italian restaurant and wine shop, eventually settling on the umbrella name PRIMA, and for decades the venue drew a loyal following and family-like staff. In 2005, the Verlanders sold PRIMA to two trusted team members, chef Peter Chastain and wine director John Rittmaster, who together maintained the venue’s popularity for 15 more years, until the pandemic forced them to first temporarily and then permanently close the restaurant. Chastain has departed; Rittmaster will stay on to run PRIMA Vini, the wine shop branch of PRIMA, which remains open. Prima Ristorante was at 1520 North Main St. in Walnut Creek.

Closed for now

The pandemic has led to business casualties, but also a strange state of limbo for many temporarily-closed venues. Some are calling it quits, “for now,” and hoping to return; some are in a sort of stasis, less clearly reopening or fully closed. If we hear of a restaurant determined to reopen within a few weeks or months, we won’t mention it here. The following are spots whose hiatuses seem a bit more indefinite.

CRACKED SANDWICH Nosh would love to know what might be next for this small, friendly crew of breakfast-sandwich artisans who have not reopened since the March lockdown, and whose website and phone seem to have gone inactive. We’re rooting for both Draw Billiards and Cracked to weather this crisis. Cracked was a pop-up inside Draw Billiards at 64 Shattuck Sq., Berkeley

4505 BURGERS & BBQ Yesterday, 4505 Burgers & BBQ took to Instagram with a somber announcement: Its Oakland location would be closed indefinitely. It’s a big blow for the East Bay depot of Ryan Farr’s popular San Francisco barbecue joint, which had only been in operation for a year, and had endured three years of delays and setbacks to open in the former Glenn’s Hot Dogs location on MacArthur Boulevard. The pandemic, though, has no empathy, and despite the “team’s hard work and support from the Laurel community,” the restaurant decided closing its doors is its best option for now. 4505’s San Francisco location remains open, and the business hints that it has some plans in the works to return to the East Bay “in a new, creative way.” Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 4505 Burgers & BBQ Oakland was at 3506 Macarthur Blvd.

SPICE MONKEY RESTAURANT & BAR We saw the news on Instagram and visited to confirm that chef Kanitha Matoury’s Spice Monkey has closed. The pretty, eclectic restaurant inside the Howden building opened in 2007, and was a bastion for globally inspired cuisine and live events, in particular live comedy, which, with or without the pandemic, seems to have dwindling local outlets. A Señor Sisig food truck and parklet remains up and running in front of the restaurant and Matoury’s Howden Market remains open, but the Spice Monkey team have said farewell for now. We hope to see the restaurant reemerge after this crisis is over. Spice Monkey was at 1628 Webster St., Oakland