November 7, 2006

November 7, 2006

In North Beach there's a cool new restaurant opening called ~NUA RESTAURANT AND WINE BAR~; it's moving into the former New Pisa space, Dante Benedetti's old restaurant, right next to Gino & Carlo's. The menu will be primarily Mediterranean (dancing between dishes from Spain, France, and Italy) with some California attention to local, sustainable, and organic ingredients. (The chef is still being finalized at the moment, so no name to share just yet.) The menu is designed to be flexible, from a full meal to just a small bite for those looking for something to eat with one of the 30 wines available by the glass (there will be over 300 wines offered—wait until you see the custom racking system). The name is Irish for "new," which ties in to the dining style owner David White is keen on bringing to life: think bigger tables, fair prices, and more time for people to linger over their food. How novel! White is also happy to be a part of the new wave of cool businesses opening in North Beach; think: more Slow Food, less scallywag.

White has many years under his belt as a server around town, and four solid years of wine experience (he set up the wine program at Chez Papa in Potrero Hill, and was the wine director for a year at the former La Suite). Nua will have 49 seats, with ten at the walnut bar, and ten more or so outside—the building gets nice sun exposure all day, but the outdoor area will still have heaters and an awning. The look is clean, elegant, and natural/organic, with banquette seating offering punches of color, cool cylindrical lamps suspended from the ceiling, and numerous woods will be utilized: the tables are made of Bolivian hardwood inlaid with a stripe of zebra wood, and the floors are dark oak. Here's a total bonus: there will be valet parking offered. Just think, no North Beach parking nightmares, or garages charging you $6 every 20 minutes. Dinner will be served six nights a week, and eventually lunch too. Nua should be open by the beginning of December. 550 Green St. at Jasper Place (near Columbus), 415-433-4000.

Just next door, a raw bar will be moving into the other half of the former New Pisa space. Things are still firming up, so I was asked to not go into details just yet—all I can say is more on this soon!

And here's a switcheroo happening a few doors down: the (tragically named, seriously) ~FRISCO FISH & CHIPS~ has closed, and the deal isn't quite final yet on who's going in—I'll keep you posted. See, this is what happens when you call it Frisco. 532 Green St. at Grant St.

At long last, the ~FALLETTI'S~ complex is opening today! It's literally blocks away from my apartment, so I'm thrilled about having quality meat and delicious Delessio cupcakes so close-by. The Peet's Coffee & Tea has already been open for a bit and jacking up the neighborhood on quality caffeine. Welcome back to the neighborhood, Falletti's! 308 Broderick St. at Fell St.

Saw this posting on Chowhound about a new Thai restaurant that moved into the old Kelly's Burgers space on 16th Street in the Mission, called ~RASHA~. Sounds like they plan to stay open late, until 3am. Always a bonus in my book. 3141 16th. St. at Albion St.

And just a couple blocks away, the belly-dancing headquarters, ~AMIRA~ on Valencia, has closed. I'll let you know what's going in there soon! 590 Valencia St.

Opening in Noe Valley in 2007 will be ~OLALLIE~, the first of three new restaurants in the neighborhood since the 20-year moratorium on new restaurants over there. Since the space was formerly a computer store, it's a significant build-out, and probably won't be opening until next spring or so. The chef/owner is Brett Emerson, who some may know by his blog, In Praise of Sardines. He's a CCA grad, and has worked locally at places like Lulu, Greens, Bizou, L'Amie Dona (in Palo Alto), Eccolo, Zax, and has been a private chef for the past couple years. The space is being designed by envelope Architecture+Design, who also designed CAV, Delfina, and Pizzeria Delfina next door. The space is intended to be eco-friendly, using materials like reclaimed woods. The restaurant will have about 40 seats inside, and a back patio, which is where Emerson and his wife found the wild blackberries that inspired the restaurant's name. (The couple will also be living upstairs—I like that, it's kind of old-school European.) Emerson is a strong proponent for market-fresh ingredients, and the free-form menu will be inspired by places like Spain, Morocco, and other North African countries. He's also hoping to secure a liquor license—cheers on that. 1320 Castro St. at 24th St.

A couple chef change-ups around town: first, over at ~ANZU~, the restaurant in the Hotel Nikko, Barney Brown will be heading up the kitchen as Executive Sous Chef (although his role is actually more like Chef de Cuisine). For the past year, Brown was the Culinary Director of the Straits Group, including Straits, Sino (in the South Bay), and Spanish Fly (in the former Straits location), in addition to E&O Trading Company, and was the opening Executive Chef for Betelnut. This is Brown's last week with the Straits Group, and he starts with ANZU next Monday. He's excited about having free-reign at ANZU, and will be crafting a Euro-Japanese menu. Taking Brown's place will be Stephen Romeo, a longtime friend of Chris Yeo (the chef/owner of the Straits Group), who has 25 years in the industry, and most recently comes from Como's in the MonteLago Village in Vegas.

~MEDICINE~ has promoted Bryan Waites to Executive Chef/GM of the restaurant. He is sharing the Executive Chef designation with Ryuta Sakamoto, who opened the restaurant but has returned to Kyoto to work at his family's 16-seat kaiseki restaurant. Sakamoto will be traveling to San Francisco a couple times a year, and is communicating frequently with Waites on the menu. So here's the thing that's crazy about Waites's background: his career started at twelve, going to private school part-time and working in a classic French kitchen something like 40 hours a week. I know, and it goes on: by his teens, he was making charcuterie for one of his summer jobs. The topper: he opened a restaurant at age seventeen. Well then. I gotta meet this guy.

~SALT HOUSE~ opened for lunch service yesterday, serving up goodies like pastrami ribs (uh, yeah), their house-ground burger, a soup and sandwich combo, and their scrumptious boudin blanc (it's killer). Lunch is served Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm. 545 Mission St. at 2nd St., 415-543-8900.