May 22, 2012

May 22, 2012

Salumeria is the corner building, and Central Kitchen surrounds it to the right and left. Photo: ©

Opening on Thursday May 31st is ~SALUMERIA~, the project opening next door to Central Kitchen from the flour + water team. I took a tour of the space a couple of weeks ago, but sadly wasn’t allowed to take pics. Anyway, here are the details: this delicatessen is taking a cue from the old world, featuring both house-cured meats by chef de cuisine Matt Sigler and imports like serrano or prosciutto from Parma, plus five sandwiches a day (like spit-roasted lamb or porchetta, sausage, a hoagie, and a vegetarian option). You can also order a variety of antipasti, cheeses (there is a dedicated cheesemonger!), and items like pâté and duck liver mousse with vin santo gelée. Since Salumeria will be open during the day, you can enjoy your lunch or late afternoon snack on the adjoining Central Kitchen courtyard over a glass of wine or beer (or a coffee, featuring Mr. Espresso).

The building was originally a sausage factory (the original concrete walls have a great patina), and it has a cool rustic-industrial look. The lamps are made from olive-picking buckets, there’s a butcher block in the center of the room, and the ceiling is made with planks from a fin de siècle gymnasium. You’ll notice a rack with finished salumi hanging, and chiles and peppers drying near the ceiling. The retail component includes wines for sale, along with housemade items like olives, pastas, sauces, chutney, and jams. For the first week, Salumeria will be open daily from 9am-5:30pm, and then 9am-8pm the second week. 3000 20th St. at Florida.


FoodLab dining room; photo from FoodLab.


Renoir Hotel; photo from Yelp by Kevin Y.


The delicious pink beans at Sol Food. Photo: ©

A couple of weeks ago, I heard word about the Bon Vivants opening a new bar in the Renoir Hotel at 7th and Market streets called Rio Grande (although I had to keep quiet about it), and I saw signs for FoodLab on the side of the hotel; now a press release reveals the details. It ends up that the Kor Group, which recently purchased the Renoir Hotel, is launching ~A TEMPORARY OFFERING~, a pop-up collection of businesses.

The FoodLab portion of the project (Matt Cohen of Off the Grid is a partner) will have pop-up food vendors serving lunch and dinner in the space (it formerly housed Little Joe’s). The kitchen will also be used as a commissary for food trucks and other businesses (always a hot commodity), and there’s a 49-seat dining room designed by Kelly Malone.

Now here’s the really fun part: the first pop-up tenant will be San Rafael’s Sol Food by Sol Hernandez, famous for her Puerto Rican cuisine. Lunch will launch this Wed May 23rd-Thu May 24th from 10:30am-2pm, and then Sol Food will be returning next week on Tue May 29th, and for the next four weeks will serve lunch Mon-Fri. On the menu: baked chicken thighs, rotisserie pork ribs, sweet plantain and vegetable casserole, pink or black beans, plantain chips with tangy dipping sauce, rice, fresh limeade, orange-mango iced tea, coconut pudding, and vanilla flan. You can keep track on the FoodLab calendar here. To celebrate the new lunch service, a Puerto Rican musical trio will be performing this Thursday.

Another component to the project is Trailhead, the Luggage Store Gallery’s satellite retail project bringing together locally roasted coffee, a youth-initiated high-end denim boutique (which will offer a jeans repair shop!), seedling farm outlet, and local artist-made ephemera, including books, zines, and maps.

As for Rio Grande, which is opening June 1st in the former Etiquette Lounge/Fuel space, stand by for exclusive details on that part of the project in a week. As the Bon Vivants describe it, it’s going to be a pop-up rock ‘n’ roll bar with live shows. The bartenders will be slinging American whiskey, “Mexican whiskey,” and a couple canned beers. All in all, it’s an exciting development for the Mid-Market neighborhood.


One of my favorite lunchtime dishes at Wexler’s: the smoked chicken wings. Photo: ©

Chef-owner Charlie Kleinman and the rest of his ~WEXLER’S~ team are launching Wexler’s Back, a new barbecue shack and smoking truck on wheels that they will be parking on Commercial Street alley (behind the restaurant) for lunch Mon-Fri. Kleinman writes: “Gone is the ‘clever twist on BBQ’ from the restaurant. Instead we are doing straight-up, no-nonsense BBQ and sides. We will be making sauces, sides, and everything from scratch, as would be expected, but otherwise no frills.”

It all begins this Friday May 25th, 11am-2pm. Like barbecue and have a party coming up? You can also contact them for catering and private events on nights and weekends. Follow updates on Twitter at @wexlersback. 565 Commercial St. at Montgomery.


A rendering of the new Exploratorium location, courtesy of Exploratorium.

A random roundup of projects that are coming soon: first, chef Loretta Keller (COCO500) is partnering with Bon Appétit Management Company to create the menus and food for the two cafés planned for the upcoming Exploratorium location at Pier 15. The new location will open in 2013. Embarcadero at Green Street.

The Mission’s ~EL FARO~ (supposedly the original inventor of the super burrito) will be opening a taqueria in the former Taqueria El Balazo space in the Upper Haight, according to Uppercasing. This will be their fourth location. 1654 Haight St. at Cole.

Meanwhile, it looks like the rumors may be true: a Chinese restaurant appears to be coming to the Lower Haight, taking over the Clay Oven Space on the corner at Fillmore. The new name on the license is ~WONDERLAND~, listing owner Ningzhe Wen of Wild Pepper in the Mission. Here’s more on Haighteration. 500 Haight St. at Fillmore.

Moving into the former ~DUMPLINGS & BUNS~ spot in Pacific Heights will be ~SIFT~, a cupcake and dessert bar. This is their fourth location—the company has three locations in Napa and Sonoma counties. The opening is slated for end of summer/beginning of autumn. 2411 California St. at Fillmore.


Photo courtesy of A16.

Here’s an update on some kitchen staff movements around town. First, executive chef David Taylor of ~A16~ has been replaced by Christopher Thompson, previously sous chef (and also behind A16’s butchery and salumi program), as reported by the Scoop.

Over at ~AME~, Randy Lutz has been named new executive chef—he started with the restaurant as executive sous chef (he was previously chef de partie on Saison’s opening team in 2009).

In the Mission, ~SOUTHPAW BBQ~ has a new chef, Max Hussey, who has cooked at Emeril’s Delmonico in New Orleans, a couple of places in Asheville, North Carolina, and locally at 25 Lusk and Epic Roasthouse. He is reportedly improving the staples, in addition to rounding out the menu with classic dishes that originate from various places throughout the South (including some lesser-known dishes). On Monday May 28th, Southpaw will start offering lunchtime takeout and delivery in the Mission from 11am-2pm every day, with the exception of Tuesdays, when they are closed. Southpaw is also launching Sunday brunch on June 3rd, with dishes like a Benton’s ham Monte Cristo with country gravy and sunny-side up egg; and a crispy poached egg with andouille hollandaise and green onion buttermilk biscuit.

At ~MAVERICK~, Emmanuel Eng is the new executive chef (he came aboard last fall as chef de cuisine). Inside Scoop mentions his new menu launches June 1st, with dishes like crispy sweetbreads with “Cool Ranch” and sweet corn mousseline, and hot shrimp cocktail with horseradish custard.

Last week I received a call from James Ormsby, the consulting pastry chef for ~BLUESTEM BRASSERIE~; he is no longer involved with the project due to too many other commitments, like a book proposal. Owners Adam and Stacy Jed are currently seeking a full-time pastry chef.


Fior d’Italia exterior; photo from Facebook.

Edible Escapes was the first to release the news of the closure of ~FIOR D’ITALIA~, known for being America’s oldest Italian restaurant. After a 126-year run, the restaurant closed last night. Scoop mentions partner Trudy Audieri “and her husband Gianni (also the chef) want to reopen Fior D’Italia at some point down the line. They actually tried to buy out the other owner, Bob Larive, unsuccessfully prior to the closure.” 2237 Mason St. at Chestnut.

On the comeback trail, ~CELIA’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT~ in the Outer Sunset reopened this Saturday May 19th after closing for a renovation. 4019 Judah St. at 45th Ave., 415-564-0662.

At the end of Sunday May 27th, ~CROWN & CRUMPET~ will be closing its Ghirardelli Square tearoom and should be reopening in a downtown San Francisco location in the early fall. If all goes well with the deal, owners Amy and Christopher Dean will also be unveiling a new private party room, tea bar, and their retail shop, Fancy Goods.


Interior of Local’s Corner. Photo: ©

Pssst, thought you’d like to know ~LOCAL’S CORNER~ is launching an oyster happy hour every Tue-Sat from 2pm-6pm. Get two-for-one oysters and $5 Dashe Cellars rosé. It all starts today, Tuesday May 22nd.


A couple of restaurants are hosting special guests next month. First, owner Rick Hackett of ~BOCANOVA~ in Jack London Square is hosting his next Rick’s Supper Club on Thursday June 7th. There will be a five-course sustainable seafood menu served family style in partnership with Monterey Fish Market’s owner Paul Johnson. Wines will be provided by Oakland’s Roland Rosario Cellars, and a cocktail is included in the price as well. 7pm, $68 (excluding tax and gratuity). Upcoming dates include July 5th: Renato Sardo of Belcampo Meats and Baia Pasta with Charlie Dollbam of Carica Wines; and August 2nd: Marty Jacobson and Janet Brown of Allstar Organics with Arnold and Alma Tudal of Tudal Winery. Call for info/reservations: 510-444-1233. 55 Webster St. in Jack London Square, Oakland.

Tue June 19th and Wed June 20th, ~ATELIER CRENN~ is hosting chef de cuisine Jeremiah Langhorne of Sean Brock’s restaurant McCrady’s (Charleston, South Carolina) for their second dinner event, Dialogue: A series of collaborations, creativity, and conversations. This dialogue will consist of ten courses, five from each chef. $160; wine pairing $100. Reserve.


InterContinental Hotel Mark Hopkins; photo via Yelp.

A guest post by Dana Massey-Todd.

If you’ve ever secretly longed for a simpler time, when women were women, men were men, we all smoked cigarettes, and everyone wore a hat, hike on up to Nob Hill’s ~TOP OF THE MARK~ for Tuesday pairings of classic films and wines. The Mark Hopkins InterContinental will be hosting screenings all summer long at their classic rooftop lounge. Nostalgic for retro pricing, too? No problem: films and tastings are complimentary but the suggested donation is a mere $3 to benefit BayKids, a Bay Area organization committed to helping children with medical challenges express themselves through filmmaking.

Wine tastings are every Tuesday 5:30pm-7:30pm, starting May 29th. Film screenings begin at 7:30pm and include Gone with the Wind, Mary Poppins, Sunset Boulevard, and Rear Window (you can view the entire schedule here). Domaine Chandon brut and rosé will be on offer in May and June, and later in the summer they’ll begin pouring Wild Horse and Spellbound reds and whites. If you’re really looking to impress your gal or guy, VIP packages are also available for front-row seats. 1 Nob Hill (at Mason and California).


After hearing rumors about the new tenant for the vacant ~CAFÉ FANNY~ space, Berkeleyside announces the new tenant is ~BARTAVELLE COFFEE & WINE BAR~. The owner is Suzanne Drexhage of Kermit Lynch (and a former Chez Panisse server)—the Inside Scoop learns that she is going to be serving coffee, wine, and simple wine bar fare. A friend also tells me there will be salumi from Christopher Lee, formerly of Eccolo and now at Il Buco Alimentari in New York. For now, a Facebook post mentions “Luigi Oldani and his trusty vintage machine will make you a delicious Sightglass cappuccino on the patio!” You can swing by for a coffee from 7:30am-3pm or so, daily, until Bartavelle opens later this summer.

In case you were wondering about Alice Waters’ involvement, and the name, Scoop says: “Alice Waters is not involved in this new venture, though she did have some influence into the winning concept, and its name. A bartavelle is a rock partridge, and it even has a loose connection to Marcel Pagnol—in his memoir, Pagnol recounts a story of shooting the birds with his father and uncle.” UPDATE: This very detailed piece in Berkeleyside has a bunch of details. 1603 San Pablo Ave. at Cedar, Berkeley.

I also learned ~ADDIE’S PIZZA PIE~ has unfortunately closed. The project was from Jennifer Millar (Sweet Adeline) and Thomas Schnetz (Doña Tomas). Some of you may know that Beauty’s Bagel Shop uses Addie’s wood-fired ovens. A quick call over to the Beauty’s crew confirms they still have access to the ovens, and hopefully that will continue until their new shop in Oakland opens—which is getting pretty close (it will be at 3838 Telegraph Ave. at 38th Street). 3290 Adeline St. at Alcatraz, Berkeley.


The former patio at Wasabi. Photo from Yelp by Jessica I.

Opening in about six weeks on Lake Merritt in the former Wasabi space is ~PORTAL~, a project from Jennifer Tucci (Rosamunde) and Warren Rector. They are giving the location a massive overhaul, with 40 seats inside and about 75 outside on a giant outdoor patio that has a fantastic view (and Plexiglas panels to help shield the wind). They are currently seeking a chef, but the concept will be heavily vegetarian and healthful Californian fare made from organic and sustainable ingredients, plus some international influences; there is also a pizza oven. Dinner and weekend brunch will be served. 1611 2nd Ave. at Foothill, Oakland.

Since Tucci is a partner with Josh Margolis in ~ROSAMUNDE~, I was able to get a few details about their upcoming location in Old Oakland, which will be considered a part of Swan’s Market, but is actually a storefront on the side of the complex (in the former Suruki space). They just signed the lease and hope to open at the end of the summer. There will be sausages, beer, and outdoor tables, too; lunch and dinner will be served. 911 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland.

In the meantime, Rosamunde is hosting a pop-up biergarten of sorts on Saturday afternoons at Classic Cars West. Swing by from 2pm until dusk for sausages off the outdoor grill (there are vegan dogs as well), four to six beers, and wine on tap. There are tables in the outdoor yard where you can sit and relax and listen to music. 411 26th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

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