August 9, 2011

August 9, 2011
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Chef Edward Higgins.

Back in January, the Inside Scoop mentioned chef Edward Higgins—a New York import who worked very closely with chef Marco Canora of Hearth and Insieme for years, and is currently at Quattro at the Four Seasons Palo Alto—would be opening his own project, ~BAIA~ in Oakland. After checking up on the project and exchanging emails with him last week, I learned the location in Old Oakland was finito, and now he’s due to open the restaurant in an undisclosed location in Mission Bay.

Personally, I am very excited about the concept, which will be modern Sicilian (his grandmother is Sicilian). Nope, there really isn’t much Sicilian cooking in this town—he’s looking forward to showcasing the unique ingredients and flavors of Sicilian dishes, while using our fantastic local seafood. The 49-seat space will be designed to be simple, warm, and relaxing—Higgins wants it to be a place where people can find a “calming respite” from urban life over some small plates and wine. The location will be light-filled, and since the layout is almost the same as the originally planned-for Oakland location, he’ll be able to move ahead with the already approved architectural plans. It’s a new space, however, so the opening probably won’t happen until spring 2012. I’ll keep you posted on the actual address and more in coming months. In the meantime, he will continue working at Quattro at the Four Seasons Palo Alto.

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Exterior of the soon-to-be Izakaya Yuzuki.

At the end of the Commonwealth Club panel I moderated last week, I was very pleased to meet Yuko Hayashi, the owner of the forthcoming ~IZAKAYA YUZUKI~, due to open in the former Ebb & Flow space on the corner of 18th Street and Guerrero. (I was doing some serious online stalking of the poor woman—was great to meet her in person.) This will be her first restaurant project, and the Osaka native is looking forward to offering Japanese dishes that are a bit different from what we have seen here in San Francisco (she travels to Japan frequently).

While it has izakaya in the name, she says the menu will have an emphasis on traditional and healthy dishes, including yakitori (a lighter dish), handmade tofu, and many vegetable dishes. The chef is Takashi Saito, whose background includes working at Ame and Kyo-ya—he is currently in Japan right now on a research tour. The restaurant will have 49 seats, and will be open for dinner Mon-Sat. She is currently hoping to open by October. (With the Namu brothers opening Namu Gaji in January, the neighborhood is going to be gaining some serious izakaya density.) 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

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Exterior of new Pica Pica Castro location.

Adriana López Vermut, owner of ~PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN~ will be opening a third location (the second in San Francisco) in the Castro in early September, as initially reported in the Scoop. The restaurant will be 1,500 square feet on two levels, with seating for 40. Local firm Arcsine Architecture of Oakland (which designed the Mission Pica Pica location) is designing the space; look for similar elements and materials. The downstairs will feature an open kitchen and counters for pub-style dining; upstairs there will be seating and tables for two-tops and four-tops. The location will be right across from the SF MUNI F-line tram turnaround. Hours will be 10am-10pm daily. Look for an opening around September 10th. 3970 17th St. at Market.

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Il Cantuccio exterior; photo by Eva Frye for Eater.

The liquor license crystal ball has lots of tidbits about upcoming projects, finally revealing what is moving into the former Il Cantuccio space on 16th Street in the Mission. It’s going to be, you guessed it, a Neapolitan pizzeria called ~MOZZERIA~. Eater mentions there will be an “international fusion” component to the toppings in addition to the traditional pies, plus other dishes like small plates and pastas. According to the website, the husband-and-wife team of Russell and Melody Stein is hoping to open Mozzeria in late 2011. 3228 16th St. at Valencia.

There was some activity with the El Rincon license, and Grub Street unearths some key details: the project is going to be called ~DEAR MOM~, and is the brainchild of two Thieves Tavern bartenders, Oliver Piazza and Jay Beaman, working with Thieves owner Paul Bavaro. They’re partnering with Laurent Katgely of Chez Spencer, who is helping them with a “limited, French-inspired, gastropub menu with nightly specials” that spans from sliders to blanquette de veau. The menu pricing spans from $6 for a dog, to $18 for the veal (Grubs has a copy of the draft menu here). It’s meant to have an easy neighborhood vibe, and it sounds like they’re hoping to open this fall. 2700 16th St. at Harrison.

Over in the Castro, Fuzio is becoming ~FORK CAFÉ~, another project from Sam Sirhed (currently behind the Burger Urge project in the Upper Haight). 469 Castro St. at 18th St.

Over in Noe Valley, the Tamasei Sushi space will be replaced by ~AKAI SARU~. 3856 24th St. at Vicksburg.

And the Noe Valley SF blog mentioned ~KAMA SUSHI~ was close to opening in the Amberjack space, but based on a couple Yelp reviews, that puppy is now open. 1497 Church St. at 27th St.

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Rice Paper Scissors founders Katie Kwan (left) and Valerie Luu (right); photo by Phil Carter.

You can now grab lunch at Crazy Thai at ~THE CORNER~ Mon-Sat from the former chef-owner of Yamo Thai. Yup, Nan Thana Soiathorn (aka “Anna”), that wild and crazy Thai lady who cooked and yelled at you at Yamo from 1995-2004, is now ready to cook for you again! Don’t you dare ask for chopsticks. Trust me. Mon-Sat 8am-2:30pm.

This Wednesday August 10th, ~RICE PAPER SCISSORS~ will be popping up in the Mission, focusing on Hanoi dishes such as crab and shrimp rice noodle soup (bun rieu), and butter-braised sweet corn and dried shrimp (bap xao), a popular street food dish. I’m sad to miss trying their version of cha ca, a dish of pan-seared turmeric fish with dill from the famed Cha Ca La Vong restaurant (RPS is only serving up a limited number of this dish, so diners should pre-order ahead of time). 6:30pm-10pm at an undisclosed location; follow @ricepapersf or sign up for the email list to learn about the location.

And this is nice news: ~COMMONWEALTH~ is now open seven days a week, starting last night! Yay, a cool place to go on Monday night, folks.

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The De La Paz espresso cart; photo courtesy of De La Paz.

After a tip-off from Live SoMa, I learned local roaster ~DE LA PAZ CAFE AND ROASTERY~ has moved into some new digs at Mission and 7th Street. Their plan is to open an espresso bar and roastery by the end of September (yes, yes, this is right up the street from Sightglass, but hey, those SoMa city blocks are big). The 2,000-square-foot space was previously an art gallery, and once things are up and running, there will be a large horseshoe bar where you can be served either espresso or drip coffee drinks, along with some window seats, and four outside tables. For now, they are open and serving coffee on Fridays from 7am-2pm. I’ll let you know when the opening is getting closer. 1081 Mission St. at 7th St., 415-525-4344.

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Photo from La Boulange.

~LA BOULANGE~ has all kinds of openings on the horizon: first Grub Street has been tracking their opening at 222 Sutter Street (previously Loehmann’s); the opening was last mentioned to be September 19th. There’s also another opening due in December at 465 California Street (the Merchants Exchange Building).

And now their PR team releases info about La Boulange du Dome, opening in early 2012 under the dome at Westfield San Francisco Centre. Unique to this location will be a Le Dome dessert, chouquettes, and canelés de Bordeaux baked fresh throughout the day, as well as other pastries available only at the mother bakery. There will also be mini tea sandwiches, and other small bites meant to go along with a glass of wine. The look will be a bit more slick, with custom-made glass pastry cases imported from Europe.

Diablo Dish released the news about chef Kim Alter’s (Plate Shop, AQUA, Manresa) next gig: she will be the chef at Daniel Patterson’s upcoming Jack London Square restaurant (previously Bracina), which he reportedly hopes to open by mid-November. Patterson describes the concept as “an accessible take on Northern Californian cuisine.” Stand by for more details in coming months.

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Chefs William Frachot, Aurelien Mauny, and Stéphane Derbord at a Must’art NYC event; photo from Facebook.

As part of the celebration of a new exhibition of medieval sculptures from Dijon, France at the Legion of Honor, five chefs from Dijon (and their four shiny Michelin stars) are coming to SF’s Fairmont Hotel, where they’ll be creating a culinary feast straight from Burgundy with the help of the Fairmont’s J.W. Foster. Then they’ll head over to the ~FERRY PLAZA FARMERS MARKET~, where you’ll have not one, but two chances to meet these culinary masters and get a taste of la belle France.

On Saturday August 20th, 8am-2pm, and Tuesday August 23rd, 10am-2pm, chefs Stéphane Derbord of Restaurant Stéphane Derbord, William Frachot of Le Chapeau Rouge, Yves Rebsamen of Chez Guy, and Jean-Pierre and Alexis Billoux of Le Pré aux Clercs will be the stars of the Market to Table cooking demos in the CUESA kitchen. Say oui to dishes like organic stuffed chicken breast with Burgundy escargot and Dijon mustard, vanilla-seasoned tomato compote with shrimp and radish mousse, marinated scampi with coconut milk and mango jelly, and basil king crab tartare. They’ll also be presenting some Dijon products and exported items, and of course, talking mustard. In addition, sommelier Patrice Gillard, also from the two-star Le Pré Aux Clercs, will be at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant wine bar to share some Burgundy wines.

The chefs are here for a weeklong celebration of the Dijon Must’art exhibit; more info on the exhibit here.

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Patio at Americano; photo courtesy of Americano.

~AMERICANO~ is now in its third year of the Sound Check series, when up-and-coming artists perform acoustic sets in the early evening on the patio. Coming up on Wednesday August 17th is the Brooklyn-based Body Language (I dig their synth pop sound), and Wednesday September 21st is Penguin Prison. There will be a special cocktail available, along with the full menu. 5pm-8pm. Admittance is free with RSVP.