January 31, 2012

January 31, 2012
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Dining room. Photo by Joey DeRuy.

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At Original Joe’s; Deco mermaid. Photo by Joey DeRuy.

North Beach was buzzing over the weekend, and I think some older folks were popping a little more Lipitor than usual before heading over to check out ~ORIGINAL JOE’S~ new home on Washington Square Park. The restaurant, which dates back to 1937, tragically closed in October 2007 after a terrible fire ripped through the Tenderloin location (on Taylor Street). The Duggan family ultimately decided to move the restaurant to the space that previously housed Joe DiMaggio’s, and prior to that, the historic Fior d’Italia.

Kudos to the Duggan family (and Anthony Fish of Arcanum Architecture) for doing such a great job in integrating the classic OJ’s elements into the new location. The signature burgundy red booths were brought over (and some of the counter stools), redwood panels, Art Deco mermaids, a vintage neon exterior sign, and the exhibition kitchen counter is also in effect. There’s a separate cocktail lounge with a piano, two private rooms, and look for sidewalk seating in the spring. NBC shot this fun segment about the reopening.

On the menu: the same classic Italian-American style of dishes, like veal parmigiana, linguini and clams, and of course Joe’s special (I like it with an egg and Tabasco on top), plus some new lighter items as well. You can view the menu here. Classic cocktails include a Manhattan, Aviation, and Vesper; check out the menu here. Hours are Sun-Wed 10:30am-10pm and Thu-Sat 10:30am-11pm. Reservations will be accepted starting in a couple of weeks.

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Rex Cafe exterior; photo from Facebook.

A tablehopper reader tipped me off that after 18 years in business, ~REX CAFE~ on Polk Street is converting into a Spanish restaurant. Partners Bob DiFranco and Daniel Mougeot will close Rex at the end of February, and after a month of refreshing the space, will reopen it as ~MARBELLA~, named after the coastal town in Spain. Instead of just small tapas plates, many dishes will be designed for groups to share. There will also be a new cocktail program, featuring fresh juices. Stand by for a menu and more details in coming months. 2323 Polk St. at Union, 415-441-2244.

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Citizen Cake’s exterior. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

One of the owners of ~TROYA~ in the Richmond, Berk Kinalilar, emailed me last week to tell me Troya is opening a second location, Troya Fillmore, in the vacant Citizen Cake space. The menu will have the same Turkish focus (have you ever had their delicate and delicious manti?), but the Scoop elaborates more on the menu: “it will incorporate the entire eastern Mediterranean region. Expect mezes, small plates, and a few larger plates; it will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with brunch on the weekends.” Look for an opening in a couple months. 2125 Fillmore St. at Sacramento.

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Former interior of Heart. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

David Lynch is going full-tilt over at ~ST. VINCENT~, his upcoming project on Valencia Street (in the former Heart space). Scoop announces Lynch has hired Bill Niles (Bar Tartine) as the chef—although Chris Kronner will still be consulting on food operations. The impending food style is described as “hearty, polished California fare.”

More news: Lynch has hired cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski (previously at Monk’s Kettle) to be the beer director, although he’ll be acting as a consultant. He will be designing the beer list, and is coordinating an all-brewery-direct draft program to insure the freshest beer.

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Nojo’s dining room. Photo from Facebook.

A tablehopper reader alerted me ~CAFE ALTANO~ in Hayes Valley has closed. (The owners are behind SOMA Restaurant & Bar in the Pickwick at 85 5th Street and Mission) Here’s hoping someone with some crazy-delicious food moves in there, it’s such a pretty corner space. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna.

Starting this Wednesday February 1st, ~NOJO~ in Hayes Valley is serving lunch Wed-Fri 11am-2:30pm. Dishes like the gyoza, a variety of soba dishes, a tonkatsu sandwich, and a bacon-wrapped hot dog (!) are all available. You can view the lunch menu here.

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Photo of Mercury Lounge interior from Yelper Rod P.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, ~GILBERTH’S ROTISSERIE & GRILL~, from Gilberth Cab and Julia Rivera of The New Spot and Oralia’s is now (softly) open, according to the Dogpatch Howler. The Latin-fusion menu will feature dishes with Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Central American influences, like roasted pork neck with plantain mofongo, and Cuban baby back ribs with a guava glaze, fried plantains, and gallo pinto. And, of course, chicken off the rotisserie. Open daily 11am-3pm and 5pm-10:30pm. 2427-2429 3rd St. at 20th St.

Further up, ~MERCURY LOUNGE~ in SoMa is closing, according to SFoodie. The last day for dinner service is February 18th, though bar bites and drinks will continue through March 1st. Mercury chef Dominic Ainza reportedly cites the economy and competition from food trucks as contributing factors. 1582 Folsom St. at 12th St., 415-551-1582.

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Rendering from soma strEAT food park’s website.

SFoodie brings us news of an upcoming street food destination: ~SOMA STREAT FOOD PARK~. Carlos Muela, who is behind the project, has just begun construction on the project at 346 11th Street at Division.

Inspired by Portland’s non-mobile street food scene, Muela hopes that providing a permanent street food park will make life easier for food truck vendors, who often have a hard time finding a place to situate themselves for business. The plan is for different trucks to rotate in and out of the park’s nine slots throughout the week, serving lunch and dinner (city permits allow them to serve until midnight). SFoodie also notes that “shelter for up to 200 diners, lights, and permanent restrooms” are part of the plans. The opening is still a couple months out.

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The previous incarnation of the Butter Burger at Maverick. Photo from Facebook.

Some new dishes to get you into trouble on the weekends. First, ~LAFITTE~ is partnering with Petaluma Farms to serve an all-egg brunch menu on Saturdays, starting February 4th. You can also pick up eggs to bring home. 10am-2pm.

You know that infamous Bacon Butter Burger at ~MAVERICK~? Yeah, the one that’s 70% cured Meyer chuck, 20% Oregon sweet cream butter, and 10% Nueske’s bacon. Starting Saturday February 4th, you can now only get it during brunch, and they promise to not run out. This monster comes loaded with a bacon pepper marmalade, Gruyère cheese, an onion ring, and jalapeño mayo on an Acme bun—it comes with fries, all for $13.

Eater brings word of a new pizza on Saturdays (only) at ~UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA~, the Apollonia. Named in honor of the Mangieris’ daughter, it comes topped with salami, buffalo mozzarella, garlic, Alder Lane Farm eggs, Parmigiano, and basil. For those paying attention, this will be the first pizza on the menu with meat on it.

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Galette 88 interior; photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

On Friday February 3rd, Brass Knuckle will be popping up in ~GALETTE 88~ with a four-course dinner called All Pigs Considered (click to see the menu and book your space). 6:30pm-11pm. $46. 88 Hardie Pl., off Kearny, between Bush and Sutter, 415-989-2222.

From Tuesday February 7th-Friday February 10th, ~OLIVETO~ is hosting its famous Whole Hog dinners. The menu will have “a simpler focus on the rustic ways of traditional farm families. There will still be plenty of extraordinary dishes, with the core of the menu coming from the farmhouse and time-honored preparations.” Menus will be posted later this week, but some selections include frittole (preserved Calabrian confit of skin and trim with cannellini beans, frisée, and lemon), nodino alla Veneziana (salt-cured chops marinated with chile flake and coriander, cooked under a brick), fegatelli di maiale al finocchio (Tuscan-style grilled fennel-seed-crusted pork liver and crostini), penne alla norcina (Umbrian pork sausage with garlic, cream, and Parmesan cheese), and fusilli con soffritto di maiale (Calabrian ragu of heart, liver, and kidney). Book your reservation now at 510-547-5356.

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Great China’s incredible Peking duck. Photo from Facebook.

I was so sorry to read in Eater about the flue fire that broke out in between ~GREAT CHINA~ and ~RAZAN’S ORGANIC KITCHEN~ in downtown Berkeley. No word on when Great China will reopen (the damage sadly sounds pretty extensive) but Razan’s was not damaged in the fire. Razan’s, 2119 Kittredge St. at Fulton, Berkeley, 510-486-0449. Great China, 2115 Kittredge St. at Fulton, Berkeley, 510-843-7996.

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The future home of mystery tenants. Photo from Facebook.

Grub Street highlighted an SF Business Times article about the change in plans at Jack London Square. Instead of the Jack London Market, the Ferry Building Marketplace-esque large public market that was supposed to open, “they are now, instead, looking for food manufacturing tenants to fill the vacant space.” Stand by for updates.

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Picán interior; photo from Facebook.

I learned in a Studio Gourmet email last Friday that chef Dean Dupuis was leaving Oakland’s ~PICÁN~. More details have been officially released: Dupuis is leaving to join DC chef and restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier at Revel, an upcoming Atlantic City resort, where he will be the chef de cuisine. In the meantime, owner-founder Michael LeBlanc is going to be heading to the South to find a replacement chef.

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Acapulco exterior. Yelp photo by Greg G.

A post on Chowhound mentions a taker for Alameda’s ~ACAPULCO RESTAURANT~. The post says, “Mike (owner of Paradise Grill and Best Burger in San Leandro and Paradiso at Willow Park in Castro Valley) has purchased Acapulcos and is revamping the interior and the food. He’s purchased the recipes, but says that, while he’ll use them as a basis, he plans to include homemade sauces, etc. Planning permits, etc. are troublesome in Alameda, but he hopes to open in March. Also, NO MORE wine margaritas. He’s working on the liqour license, too.” That was one informative post, thanks. 2104 Lincoln Ave. at Willow, Alameda.

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The former storefront, which is now Alchemy. Photo from Facebook.

Now open in Berkeley is ~ALCHEMY COLLECTIVE~, a teeny-tiny coop café that some will recognize as the cart that was previously in the parking lot of BioFuel Oasis. The partners are serving Verve on a La Marzocco machine (it’s on the cart they built), and be sure to check out the custom drip contraption they made as well. 3140 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at the Adeline split, Berkeley.