May 15, 2012

May 15, 2012
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The Del Popolo truck. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The cashier counter is on a lower level (and take a look at that Stefano Ferrara oven). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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My test-run margherita. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A closer look at the truck. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

On Saturday afternoon, I was fortunate to see the ~DEL POPOLO~ pizza truck in action, and taste one of Jon Darsky’s superlative Neapolitan-style pies (which none of us have had since he left flour + water). As previously profiled in tablehopper, this custom truck is really something to behold. It was fun to watch people walk by and stare at this impressive pizzeria on wheels—which includes a 5,000-pound, wood-fired Stefano Ferrara oven—all housed in a shipping container with windows and clear doors, so you can observe the entire operation.

There were two kinds of pizzas on offer on Saturday, a margherita and a white pie with wild radish rapini and garlic, only $7 (these were test-run prices). Moving forward, the cost should be around $10-$12. The cashier will cut your pizza for you as soon as it’s out of the oven and put it in a box, which will become your mobile table for the next 10 minutes or so (of course I still managed to get sauce on my shirt).

Darsky’s margherita is such a pleasure to eat—once it cools down a little, see if you can eat the slices without folding them so you can taste all the disparate elements of the pizza instead of mashing it all together. You’ll notice the pop of the olive oil he finishes the pies with, the creamy cheese, the bright tomato sauce, and, of course, the way the char from the oven layers even more flavor onto his fantastic (and elastic) dough.

The Del Popolo truck’s opening is tonight at 5:30pm at Bar Agricole (at 355 11th St. at Folsom), and it will be parked in the lot next door—guests can eat their pizza on the patio. Uh-huh, sounds like you should get a drink with that pie. I also saw a tweet mentioning lunch at Mint Plaza this Thursday. Follow @pizzadelpopolo to keep up with the truck’s future locations around the city. Yeah, this will be the ultimate truck to hire for private parties.

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Main dining room. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Booths in the side room. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Green chile cheeseburger. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last Thursday evening, I had a chance to swing by and check out ~WEST OF PECOS~, the Southwestern restaurant opening tonight in the former Bombay Bazar and Bombay Ice Creamery. I met up with owner Dylan MacNiven (Woodhouse Fish Co.) and his brother Tyler for a sneak peek; the space features two rustic dining rooms (the side room will open later) with big booths upholstered in Southwestern fabrics, hefty wood tables, and a bar area. The wood floor and skylights are original to the 1907 building. There’s also a front patio with fireplaces (but no seating)—they hope to roast chiles out front when they come into season. Be sure to notice the ax door handles when you walk in.

Chef Leo Varos is a native of Santa Fe (La Fonda, Geronimo, Bistro 315, O’Keeffe Café) and has put together a menu of Southwestern-inspired dishes, including starters like duck confit flautas, green chile mac and cheese, Pecos chili with braised beef, and hominy stew with red chile and braised pork. There are a few salads, and large plates like lamb albóndigas (made in a northern New Mexico style with chorizo and rice in a spicy tomato and green chile broth), whole fish fajitas, and some vegetarian options. There’s also a green chile burger with three cheeses—the hefty burger comes wrapped up in a thick and housemade flour tortilla (made from Varos’s mother’s recipe) and is served with potatoes on the side topped with queso fresco, plus some spicy chipotle ketchup you can dunk the potatoes into. There are housemade corn tortillas available as well—all are made on the hearth. You can check out a test menu here.

There’s also a full bar, with plenty of whiskey, tequila, and mezcal to quench your thirst (you look parched, cowboy). Dinner is Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. Brunch should launch in a few months.

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A stacked turkey club sandwich (currently at Show Dogs).

Last month, I mentioned the upcoming ~MACHINE COFFEE~ opening up next door to Show Dogs on Market. While that coffee shop and deli project gets under way, you’ll be able to check out the deli sandwiches at ~MACHINE DELI AT LASZLO~, a brand-new pop-up from the Machine team that will start on Friday June 1st. Going forward, lunch will be served Mon-Fri from 11:30am-2:30pm.

Charcutier Peter Temkin (Show Dogs, Foreign Cinema) has been making pastrami, smoked turkey breast, and more; featured sandwiches will include a pastrami Reuben with housemade sauerkraut, a smoked turkey club, house-smoked roast beef with broccoli rabe, an Asian-inspired chicken salad sandwich (possibly Thai), and a vegetarian option (potentially a version of caponata). Sandwiches will range from $8-$13 (prices are TBD at the moment). I’m especially excited to try some quality turkey and roast beef. For now, you’ll be able to eat your sandwich in front of Laszlo, and if there’s enough traffic, they might eventually open up the Foreign Cinema patio. Let’s make it happen, people. 2526 Mission St. at 21st St.

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The Piglet sandwich at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

According to the Inside Scoop, ~AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE KITCHEN~ is opening a second location in the Mission location of ~CAFÉ GRATITUDE: SAN FRANCISCO~. Gratitude is closing on Friday May 25th, and AGCK should be opening in late summer or early fall. Owners Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollak will be expanding the lunch menu, adding a dinner menu, a burger (sorry, Café Gratitude people), sausages by Chris Beerman of Citizen’s Band, and more. And in case you are wondering, the Café Gratitude locations in Santa Cruz and Berkeley are reportedly remaining open, in addition to Gracias Madre in the Mission. 2400 Harrison St. at 20th St., 415-830-3014.

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Farm eggs (from Roshambo Farms). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week I mentioned the Fat Angel folks have a new Lower Fillmore project up their sleeve, ~CITY GRANGE~. The owners got back to me with some details: it’s going to be an innovative project, with a large rentable production kitchen (four stations), an eatery, market, and private event space. I know, sweet!

Breakfast and lunch will be served daily, featuring items all made from scratch, and there will be a market with high-quality staples such as Acme bread, Straus milk, farm eggs, and Prather Ranch meats, along with housemade products and takeout dinner items such as soups, roast chickens, stocks, salads, and fresh juices. It will be designed to work as an event space for private parties, neighborhood suppers, and pop-up restaurants. Stand by for more in the coming months; City Grange is opening in early 2013, just across the street from Yoshi’s. 1325 Fillmore St. at Eddy.

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The patio and trailer at All Good Pizza. Yelp photo by Thomas R.

I was pleased to read in SFoodie about ~ALL GOOD PIZZA~, a new daytime trailer and garden patio where you can eat made-from-scratch pizza from a brick oven, panini, salads, and links off a smoker (courtesy of Evergood Fine Foods, a Bayview resident for more than 80 years). Owners Kristin Houk and Matt Trahan, longtime Bayview residents, are also growing herbs on the lot and creating a community gardening area, and using a lot of local produce in their food.

All Good Pizza is now serving Straus soft-serve ice cream (students of the 94124 ZIP code can bring in their report cards and with a B average or better, receive a free ice cream!), and every Sunday is All Good Neighborhood Day, when they prepare a prix-fixe meal and invite a local chef to take control of the smoker. All meals include a smoked meat of the chef’s choice, their signature kale salad, Louisiana baked beans, garlic bread, and lemonade or iced tea for $10. If you’re a chef and want a crack at their smoker, email to be added to the schedule. 1605 Jerrold Ave. at 3rd St.

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The bar at Rockstar Sushi. Photo from Yelp.

A few SoMa notes: I received word from partner Mick Suverkrubbe that ~THE COSMOPOLITAN~ is closing this Friday (they couldn’t agree on a new lease with the landlord). One tablehopper reader emailed me to lament over missing the tempura green beans. The team is working on a new project in Petaluma, The Social Club—you can read all about it in the 707 Scout. 121 Spear St. at Mission, 415-543-4001.

Meanwhile, ~ROCKSTAR SUSHI LOUNGE~ has opened in SoMa. The menu looks pretty straightforward (well, except for the selection of shooters with names like “embryo” and “ring of fire”); the soundtrack is unique, supplied by Bay Area bands. The look is pretty zany, with chandeliers; guitars on the wall; a vermilion, white, and black color scheme; and animal patterns (and it looks like there’s a pair of those odd velvet shoe chairs I haven’t seen since the early 1990s). The executive chef is Take Fujita. 680 8th St. at Townsend, 415-864-2771.

More sushi in SoMa: a while back I mentioned ~KAMA SUSHI~ was opening in the former Daddy O’s space, and Grub Street confirms it’s now open. 294 9th St. at Folsom.

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Exterior of Local Café; photo courtesy of Local Café.

Last week I mentioned the folks behind The Trappist appeared to have a new project under way in Rockridge: according to this bit from Diablo Dish, it’s going to be a bottle shop called ~TRAPPIST PROVISIONS~, along with 5-10 taps. Stand by for more. 6309 College Ave. at 63rd St., Oakland.

Diablo Dish also mentions the owners (and brothers) behind ~AUTHENTIC BAGEL COMPANY~ (a wholesale business) are taking over Cafe Zoe on College Avenue, with plans to open a “New York-style bagel shop and deli.” Look for an opening in mid-June. 6000 College Ave. at Harwood, Oakland, 510-658-4963. 
 

On Saturday May 19th, ~POP UP FOODS~ is hosting an event at Pizzaiolo. You can pre-order food items from small-batch makers (like Baia Pasta, Studebaker Pickles, and Soul Food Farm eggs and chickens) by Wednesday May 16th and then pick them up from 10am-12pm on the patio at Pizzaiolo. Additional items will be available for sale the day of. Five percent of proceeds from this first event will go to Pizzaiolo’s new initiative called “Meat for the People,” a project that will bring greater food access to people in Oakland. 5008 Telegraph Ave. at 50th St., Oakland.

Also on Saturday May 19th, ~LOCAL CAFÉ~ is starting dinner service on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Starters, available with wine and beer specials during happy hour from 2:30pm-5:30pm, include garlic herb crostini ($12) with prosciutto, smashed chickpeas, and frisée; local slider trio ($11) of beef brisket, pork meatballs, and grilled seasonal vegetables; and dry-rub ribs ($12) with citrus-plum barbecue and Local Café slaw. Entrées include a flatiron steak ($16) with grilled asparagus, celery root mash, and balsamic drizzle; a crispy half-roasted chicken ($15) with seasonal vegetables; along with some kid-friendly and side dishes. 4395 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley, Oakland, 510-922-8249.

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Burritt Tavern dining room. Photo from Burritt Tavern.

A few new lunch service options to add to your radar: first, ~BURRITT TAVERN~ just started serving lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm. Check out chef Charlie Palmer and executive chef Ashley Weaver’s new lunch menu here, which includes salads, sandwiches, and heartier main courses. The décor should lend itself well to business lunches, and you should snag a private booth if you need to keep your business dealings on the hush-hush.

~IPPUKU~ in Berkeley has started weekday lunch service, according to the Inside Scoop. Look for handmade soba noodles (available in ten different cold variations, and about six hot executions), along with side dishes. Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2pm.

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Here’s a good event for fans of Asian food: the eighth annual ~ASIAN HERITAGE STREET CELEBRATION~ is coming up on Saturday May 19th in the Civic Center/Little Saigon neighborhoods (Larkin and McAllister streets). The event will feature an abundant lineup of food vendors and food truck favorites, plus cooking demos by Martin Yan, Charles Phan, and more. It’s also free and open to the general public, and free is always good.

A look at the list of food vendors and food trucks reveals lots of good eats, including Nombe, JapaCurry, Seoul on Wheels, Chairman Bao Truck, and many more. The event’s only one day, and you only have one stomach, so bring friends. Look for food vendors on Golden Gate Street (with a seating area), while food trucks will be on Turk Street. While you’re there, visit the Arts & Crafts World Market for special and unique handmade products and artworks. 11am-6pm.

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On Sunday May 20th is Sunday Tea with Juanita & Fe (GM Felix Torricer) at ~WO HING GENERAL STORE~. Personality Juanita More will be spinning music while guests enjoy rum punch and other cocktails by Brooke Arthur, plus a special dim sum selection by chef de cuisine Michelle Mah and desserts by executive pastry chef Chucky Dugo. 6pm-10pm.

Mark your calendar: on Sunday June 3rd, ~PICCINO~ and the Yellow Building tenants will be throwing a one-year anniversary bash and block party. There will be special dishes from Piccino’s opening menu, a jazz band, a fashion show by MAC, bubbly, and perhaps a few other surprises from DIG.

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Photo courtesy of Grand Café.

Hey meat-eaters, these events are tailor-made for ya, why dontcha check ‘em out? For a meaty dinner that’s off the beaten path, try the May Misfit dinner at ~GRAND CAFÉ~ featuring McCormack Ranch lamb. Available Thursday May 17th-Sunday May 20th, the Misfit lamb menu focuses on the more unusual parts: brain, cheek, tongue, and sweetbreads. Choose from crispy lamb’s brain, braised lamb cheek, celery heart salsa verde ($14); lamb sweetbreads, lamb bacon, wild blackberries, fennel soubise, verjus, field greens ($18); lamb tongue pot-au-feu, summer vegetables, consommé ($14); hay-roasted leg of lamb, English pea ragout, mint chutney, rösti potatoes ($24); mixed grill with yogurt-marinated loin, merguez sausage, za’atar-rubbed chop, spiced date emulsion, pickled turnip, bulgur ($36); and lamb porchetta with pine nut, dill, and honey sauce, grilled chicories, crispy chickpea polenta ($34). The Misfit menu is available à la carte alongside the regular dining room menu.

You’ll also have two opportunities this month to join Belcampo Meat Co.’s ~MEAT-UP~ events. On Thursday May 24th, 12pm-2pm, Belcampo will fire up the grill outside of Blue Bottle Coffee in Jack London Square (300 Webster St. at 3rd St., Oakland). Get barbecue sirloin kebabs with minty yogurt, spicy carrot salad, and flatbread for just $9. Then on Thursday May 31st, “Meat-Up” at the SFMOMA (151 3rd St. at Mission, San Francisco) from 6pm-8pm as part of “Open Late” Thursdays. Belcampo will be at the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar on the third floor of the museum with chicken and beef empanadas ($5) Mexican-style, in honor of the current Mexican music exhibit. Order a specialty cocktail from St. George Spirits too. Museum admission is half-price after 6pm on Thursday evenings only.

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