March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013
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Chef Jen Biesty at Scala’s; photo via Facebook.

Quite a few chef changes and hires around town. First up, Scoop caught wind of chef Jen Biesty’s departure from ~SCALA’S BISTRO~ after almost five years (they are currently conducting a nationwide chef search). I had a chance to catch up with Jen to get more details on her next steps. Her last day is March 29th, and she will then be focusing on getting her own project off the ground. She is going to open a restaurant that is Spanish and Mediterranean in origin, with a touch of Middle Eastern influences (we both shared our love for the flavors in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, Plenty and Jerusalem). In a nutshell, she said, “I want to be like Sicily!” (which has many unique culinary influences). Her plan is for the food to be shareable, with “real bar food” that you can eat with your hands, big seasonal salads for the table to share (ends up she’s a big fan of salads), smaller-size paellas in a variety of flavors, plus some larger family-style plates. She wants it to be a casual space where you can come by often, with cocktails for $8-$9 and affordable wines. She actually has a spot lined up in Oakland, but needs to raise a bit more money in order to close it. Good luck, Jen!

Over on the waterfront, chef Michael Chiarello has some updates about ~COQUETA~, his upcoming Spanish project, in this post on The Daily Meal. His chef will be Ryan McIlwraith (previously at Bottega) and Joe Cleveland (who previously worked for José Andrés) will be running the bar program, which will include house-distilled gin and tonics (really?) and sangria will also “be made in giant batches, flash-pasteurized, and put in a tank.” There will be 78 seats, with 30 at the bar. Other details: There will be a wood-fired grill, paella served on the hour, and grilled calçots, which Chiarello has been growing.

Chef Brandon Jew is leaving ~BAR AGRICOLE~ in the next few weeks to start his own project, and Scoop reports his sous chef will be taking over, Reina Talanoa (whose cooking background includes Gary Danko, Manresa, and Saison). Stand by for what’s next for Jew.

Even though I wasn’t able to get confirmation on this piece of gossip awhile ago, it’s now officially confirmed that Christian Hermsdorf (previously Cupola and Bar Bambino) is the executive chef at ~JONES~ in the Tenderloin. He is a big fan of housemade pasta, so look for that in the new dinner and $25 prix-fixe menus; there’s also an Italian influence in the Sunday brunch menu. 620 Jones St. at Geary, 415-496-6858.

Up in San Rafael, Scoop reports chef Chris Fernandez of ~TERRAPIN CROSSROADS~ is moving into more of a consulting role, and his sous chef Nathan Clark will be the executive chef. 100 Yacht Club Dr. at Francisco, San Rafael, 415-524-2773.

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As covered in tablehopper in November, the former Sage space in SoMa has become ~1601 BAR & KITCHEN~. The new restaurant should be opening in the coming weeks and will be a cool opportunity for diners to check out Sri Lankan cuisine. Chef-owner Brian Fernando previously worked at Le Papillon in San Jose, and he hopes to bring that elevated technique to this new project, but with different flavors and a more casual atmosphere.

The new space, which was designed by Brent Kanbayashi, is sleek but comfortable, with a large L-shaped bar of wood, a communal table, and a private room in the back. Part of the space has very high ceilings, which have been softened with plants and organically shaped light fixtures, plus classic café chairs. A lighting fixture that will hold bottles and glassware is soon to arrive and will provide a focal point over the bar.

The menu is intended to be ordered as small plates, and includes lots of traditional Sri Lankan dishes served in new ways. Egg hoppers, a street food snack of egg cooked in a rice flour and coconut shell, will be available, along with mulligatawny soup, a spiced and meaty soup with lots of tumeric. For a quick crash course in Sri Lankan flavors, check out this glossary so you’ll be at least a little informed when you go.

The beverage program is mostly focused on wine, with 85 different bottles from around the world that have been selected to pair well with the food’s unique flavors. Camron Mashayekh, who worked with Fernando at Le Papillon, consulted on the wine program. There will be about 10 wines available by the glass, plus four on tap, and a handful of beers including local standby Trumer Pils.

It will still be a couple of weeks before they are able to open, because inspections are still pending and that light fixture needs to be installed above the bar. When the doors do open, it will be for happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm, and dinner Mon-Thu 6pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm. Closed Sunday. 1601 Howard St. at 12th St., 415-552-1601.

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The exterior of Balançoire. Photo from Facebook.

In the former Blue Macaw space on Mission St. comes ~BALANÇOIRE~. Balançoire means “swing” in French, for the swing that will descend over the crowd on weekend nights with a sexy, lip-synching lady à la Moulin Rouge. The spot is a combination of club, bar, and restaurant, with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, snacks at the bar during the week, and lots of wild-sounding parties like the Clam Jam (that’s a lesbian underwear dance party, by the way) every third Saturday night. There are weekly dance parties, a monthly benefit happy hour, and a burlesque happy hour is in the works too. Their Facebook page has lots of updates on upcoming shows and events.

The chef is Art Vagoner, who worked in Belgium before coming to San Francisco, and his menu is focused on French Creole cooking that will change according to the seasons and his own whims. Owner Richard Einselen says that he wants the spot to cater to the eclectic tastes of the Mission, and he is hoping to create a spot where lots of different neighborhood folks can be comfortable. He also wants to start offering zydeco brunch on weekends and bring zydeco music and dance to the Mission. Wed-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri 5pm-2am, Sat-Sun 11am-2am, brunch from 11am-3pm. 2565 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-920-0577.

Word came in that ~MISSION PICNIC~—a new spot for sandwiches, salads, and soups to go—is opening in the former Corazon Juicebar space. One of the owners, Sterling Tatsumi-Price, says that he and his partners plan to start serving rustic, seasonal sandwiches made-to-order out of the space by March 30th. They’ll have six to nine sandwich choices, with one daily soup and salad special. Many of the menu choices will have a slight Asian twist, though it won’t be the only focus. Eventually, they are hoping to offer large, call-ahead picnic box orders for people to take to Dolores Park. The plan is to be open rather late, from 11am-8pm Sun-Thu and 11am-12am Fri-Sat., thought the exact hours are subject to change. Stay tuned for more information on the opening. 3275 22nd St. at Valencia, 415-735-3080.

A tipster mentions that ~GALLARDO’S~ is opening a new spot around the corner from its current location on Folsom. The new spot is currently under construction (it’s the space where Chava’s had a fire more than 10 years ago and then moved to 24th Street), but the crew confirms that it is the same owners as Gallardo’s on Folsom. No word yet on a time line or opening date, but here’s hoping for more excellent weekend birria. 3248 18th St. at Shotwell.

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The retail space at Charles Chocolates. Photo courtesy Charles Chocolates.

As previously reported in tablehopper, ~CHARLES CHOCOLATES~ is opening an exhibition kitchen and shop in the Mission. The new spot opened its doors Friday March 15th and is ready to fill all of your chocolate needs with pavés, brownies, chocolate-covered almonds, and more. The new space features a retail area for making purchases, plus a glass-enclosed exhibition kitchen so you can watch the magic happen. In coming weeks, they’ll add seating to the patio as well. More confections will become available in the future, but there are quite a few delicious choices already, and if you can’t make it to the shop, check out the online store here. Hours are 11am-7pm daily. Welcome back, Chuck (and your peanut butterflies)! And just in time for Easter chocolate time. 535 Florida St. at Mariposa, 415-659-8770.

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Boneyard ribs and brisket from the smoker. Photo via Facebook.

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The (in progress) Boneyard Truck. Photo courtesy of Mike Bradford.

Coming soon to the city is ~THE BONEYARD~, a barbecue truck from Mike Bradford (his wife is Mutsumi Takehara of Bernal’s 903 and Sandbox Bakery) and Rich Mainzer. You may have seen Mike’s custom, mega-smoker parked in front of 903 in past months. Ends up he’s been smoking meats for more than 15 years, and Rich and Mike have been dueling over who can make better barbecue ribs for some time. Well, the two rib fanatics are going to be smoking meats on the mofo smoker and then selling them on the truck. The truck matches the smoker a bit, outfitted in flat black with smoked-out windows. Yeah, you’ll see it comin’.

The truck is going to offer Southern-style barbecue made with well-sourced meat, like ribs, brisket (which comes with Mutsumi’s pain de mie, a nice twist on the usual white bread), pulled pork sandwiches (in potato rolls), and, are you ready for this: wings that have been smoked for four hours, and are then fried to order and given a little “Buffalo mop” (i.e., a light saucing). Sign. Me. Up. The meats will feature a light rub, good smoke, and a touch of sauce, that’s it. There will also be sides, like coleslaw with a kick from wasabi and horseradish, German potato salad (a lighter style made with bacon, potatoes, vinegar, and seasoning), and of course, sweets from Mutsumi, like brownies, lemon bar cookies, and more (she is also working with the truck on some special breads).

Once they pass inspections within a few weeks, they are hoping to appear at Off the Grid, Streat Food Park, and to dial in a couple locations/lots where they can park. Keep up with The Boneyard on Facebook and Twitter, and of course, I’ll keep you posted.

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The Italian Combo from Jersey’s. Yelp photo by Garland W.

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Pineapple buns from Fancy Wheat Field Bakery. Yelp photo by Judy N.

Word came in from a tipster via Twitter that ~JERSEY’S ON 6TH~ is closing because the owners are moving to Los Angeles. Owner Erick Morton confirms the rumor and says their last day will be Sunday March 24th. This is sad news for the Inner Richmond, but don’t despair. Morton says his lease has been signed over to a new owner, Luis Bolanos, who, it turns out, used to be the manager at La Torta Gorda in the Mission. He left that bastion of torta excellence just last week, and hopefully he’ll be bringing the same style to a new side of town. Bolanos himself could not be reached, but here’s hoping this story is exactly what it sounds like. That’s right, some Mexican badassery in the Inner Richmond. 200 6th Ave. at California, 415-221-0444.

Over in Cole Valley, the Cole Valley blog posts a tip suggesting an Italian restaurant and wine bar is going to be moving into the former Hama-Ko. 108 Carl St. at Cole.

Meanwhile, over in North Beach/Chinatown, ~FANCY WHEAT FIELD BAKERY~ (which might just be the best bakery name ever) has just opened in the former Victoria Pastry Co. location. Yup, it’s the second location of the Excelsior bakery on San Bruno Avenue. You can come in for a variety of Chinese baked goods (just fill up your tray with your own tongs), with both sweet and savory offerings, from pineapple buns to pork sung buns to seaweed buns with pork filling. It’s bao o’clock.1362 Stockton St. at Vallejo, 415-982-1368.

We received word this morning that ~THE CORNER STORE~ is getting ready for the big opening of the Target store at Geary and Masonic with a new morning coffee window. Mon-Fri 7am-11am they’ll be serving Blue Bottle coffee, light pastries, parfaits, and a breakfast sandwich out of a to-go window. Limited patio seating will available, but it’s mostly intended to be a takeout spot. They’ve also expanded their happy hour offerings (which runs Tue-Sun 3pm-6pm) and added some weekend brunch items (with spring coming, the patio should be open for brunch soon).

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, ~ABUNDANT MARKET~ is the market that was taking over the Cal-Divis Market space (previously Blue Fog). Thanks to a tweet from @sffoodtech, we know it is open as of today and is serving Blue Bottle Coffee (also looks like it will have wine for sale). There will also be salads and sandwiches available; look for fully stocked shelves in the specialty market section of the space soon. 2792 California St. at Divisadero.

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The Linea Caffe logo.

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The exterior of Caffe Dolci. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

The Mission will soon have another spot to get a killer cup of coffee. Up this time is ~LINEA CAFFE~, from Ecco Caffe founder Andrew Barnett and Anthony Myint of Mission Street Food and Commonwealth. The 292-square-foot spot is inside Duc Loi Market, where Myint’s Mission Burger used to pop up. The new project will feature bags of beans that Barnett has sourced from his favorite coffee farms around the world (the name, which means “line” in Italian, refers to the direct line between the farmer and the new location), plus a stand-up espresso bar.

The spot is also going to serve as an incubator for new casual food concepts. To start, Myint will be serving green salads via his GreenSalads project, and crisp Brussels-style waffles under his Lt. Waffle banner. Myint will be donating $1 from each salad to 350.org, a grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. In the future, look out for outdoor seating too. The opening is currently set for May, and when it does open, hours will be 7:30am-2:30pm. 3417 18th St. at San Carlos.

In the Marina, there’s the new ~CAFFE DOLCI~, which is now open and serving Italian gelato, Illy espresso, and panini on housemade focaccia in the former John Campbell’s Bakery space. Hours are 9am-9pm Tue-Sun (closed Mondays). 3101 Fillmore St. at Filbert, 415-563-8434.

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Off the Grid: Fort Mason. Photo from Facebook.

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Sarah Burchard and Spencer O’Meara of S&S in the kitchen. Photo by Iann Ivy via Facebook.

Check out the new S&S Shack pop-up at ~MISSION ROCK RESORT~ on Tuesday April 16th. S&S Brand is a collaboration between chefs Sarah Burchard (previously Barbacco) and Spencer O’Meara (previously Paragon), whose menu is focused on classic American food. Tickets are $40 and include an opening reception with snacks, followed by a three-course dinner with items like fried jerk chicken, corn bread, and housemade hot links. The happy hour begins at 6pm, dinner at 7pm; tickets do not include beverages and gratuity. 817 Terry A. Francois Blvd. at Illinois, 415-701-7625.

~OFF THE GRID~ is back at Fort Mason with its Friday night market, which kicks off Friday March 22nd. The market has some new features this time around, including cocktails from the Alembic and beer from Magnolia. Each of the vendors will be serving a new menu choice each month, so you can check back often and try new things.

Off the Grid is also starting the brand-new Prix-Fixe Dining Service, which is a specialty heated lounge area where you can make a reservation to have a more composed meal with one of the participating vendors, including Azalina’s and Hapa SF, and cocktails (and more) from Derby Cocktail Co., a new mobile bar concept by Stag Dining. The average cost for the prix fixe is $40, plus optional beverage pairings available. The market’s hours are 5pm-10pm Fridays, Fort Mason Center.

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Pie! From Three Babes Bakeshop (image from their website).

Pie is pretty much its own fantastic food group, so be sure to make it to the first annual San Francisco Pie Competition and Social on Sunday April 14th. The event is a benefit for the San Francisco Community School in the Excelsior. Bakers from all over are encouraged to bake their finest and submit them to the panel of all-star judges, including Elisabeth Prueitt (Tartine), Jake Godby (Humphry Slocombe), Jessica Battilana (Tasting Table), Michelle Polzine (Range), and Mutsumi Takehara (Sandbox Bakery). The prizes will rock (hello, $1,600 Shun Fuji knife set).

It’s not just a competition, though, it’s also a social, so you can just show up and enjoy a slice and a cup of coffee. If you’re interested in donating a pie, but not competing, that’s fine too!

There will be live music, fun activities for kids, and, um, lots of freakin’ pie. It runs from 11:30am-2pm, and tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids, and $25 to submit a pie. For details on the event and submitting your flakiest masterpiece, go here. Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St. at Hampshire.

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Thank you Easter Bunny, bwok bwok! Photo from Rulli’s Facebook page.

Easter is almost here, and it’s time to up the quotient of tasty carbs in your life. Perhaps the most well-known Easter sweet in my family’s house is the colomba di Pasqua, a sweet, eggy bread made in the shape of an Easter dove (my mother makes a beautiful one). Since you can’t have my mom’s, you should try the one made by ~STARTER BAKERY~ (if you had baker Brian Wood’s panettone over the winter holiday, well, here’s your next chapter). The bread comes with a gorgeous hazelnut glaze, studded with pearl sugar and almonds. It’s wonderful warmed up with your morning coffee. It’s $25, and will be available at Starter Bakery’s farmers’ market booth (Grand Lake 9am-2pm; Temescal 9am-1pm; Montclair 9am-1pm) on 3/23, 3/24, 3/30, and 3/31. There will also be delivery to Bi-Rite (both locations) on 3/28. It is highly recommended you pre-order from Starter Bakery (email here); orders must be received before 3/25 at noon.

Another classic Easter treat are hot cross buns, which you can pick up from ~RULLI~ (they are tender brioche pastries with raisins and candied fruit, with a custard cross on top). $3, available now through Easter. (Rulli also makes a wonderful colomba, plus adorable Easter bunny chocolates.)

Try another version of hot cross buns from ~LA BOULANGE BAKERY~, which makes its hot cross buns with apricots, cranberries, and raisins ($1.95 each or $9.95 for six).

If you’re in the East Bay, you can swing by ~ROCKRIDGE MARKET HALL~ both for hot cross buns ($2.50 each) and an Easter colomba from Rustichella d’Abruzzo (which is fantastic, with candied orange inside and an almond crust). Oh, and The Pasta Shop is also offering pashka, a Russian Easter specialty of slightly sweetened cheese with fruit, almonds, and raisins. (Please note The Pasta Shop will be closed on Easter Sunday.)

Easter isn’t complete without some chocolate. Be sure to visit ~RECCHIUTI CONFECTIONS~ for its Easter offerings (available in the Ferry Building store, Little Nib, and online). You can pick up a chocolate Easter egg, burnt caramel truffles decorated with Easter images, and more.

Speaking of eggs, you have to take a look at the over-the-top egg display at ~CRAFTSMAN AND WOLVES~, mamma mia.

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Dishcrawl leaves its mark. Photo from Facebook.

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The busy busy Beretta dining room. Photo courtesy Beretta.

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The long table at an Outstanding in the Field event. Photo courtesy OITF.

Psssssst! Hey you. Here’s a little secret: Alameda is totally cool and full of neat places to eat. You should really look into it, and here’s the perfect way: ~ALAMEDA DISHCRAWL~, happening Tuesday April 9th. Basically, it’s the same idea as a pub crawl but with food instead of drinks. Dishcrawl takes you to four different restaurants, and you sample dishes at each one. Tickets are $45, the event begins at 7pm at a secret location (you’ll be emailed after you purchase tickets), and the restaurants are under wraps. Shhhhhh.

~BERETTA~ has been in the Mission for five years now and is celebrating with a pizza party on Monday April 1st. The festivities start at 8pm and continue until 1am, and there will be lots of music, snacks, and cocktails. Tickets are $30 and include punch and snacks.

The memorable farm dinners hosted by ~OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD~ are back for the 2013 season, and tickets are now on sale. The events, which pair local guest chefs with farms and serve dinners in the farm fields, are a really unique way to connect with the farms and farmers producing your food, and the long tables outside are truly lovely. Check out the tablehopper’s trip to County Line Farm in Marin for some details on what the events are like. The dinners aren’t cheap (they’re not all the same price, but are mostly in the $200 range), but they are totally worth it if you’re feeling a little flush. This year they’ve got some heavy-hitting chefs participating, too, like Ravi Kapur (Liholiho Yacht Club), Melissa Perello (Frances), and Nicolaus Balla (Bar Tartine). For a full list of dates, participating chefs, and farms, check here.

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The partners at Kingston 11. Photo from Facebook.

Some good (potential) news from my Temescal tipster: “Apparently there is a move by some investors to save ~SCREAM SORBET~ … Nathan is hoping that a group of investors, apparently including Mary Canales of Ici, is looking into saving the business.” Fingers crossed. 5030 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland.

[Alas, our gossipy tip wasn’t quite correct. Here’s an update from Scream’s Nathan Kurz in a post on Chowhound: “Although we are exploring many options and hope to find a way to continue making our sorbet, the article is not quite correct. We have talked to Ici and several other local businesses about possible collaboration, but this has been separate from our talks with potential investors. Mary has offered kind advice and encouragement but has no plans to invest —- at least not that she has told me! Still, feel free to send other collaborators or illustrious prospects our way.”]

The Temescal tipster also mentions the people planning the bakery in the former Remedy space on Telegraph posted a menu on the window last week. It’s called ~BARKADA BAKERY AND CAFÉ~ (not to be confused with the nearby Barlata) and is due to open this spring. You can check out some pics of the menu here and here, full of breads, tarts, quiche, and more; looks tasty. Anyone have any more details? 4316 Telegraph Ave. at 43rd St., Oakland.

East Bay Express mentions a new Jamaican restaurant called ~KINGSTON 11~. Look for “jerk chicken and other home-style Jamaican specialties,” a full rum bar, and room for 90—owners Adrian Henderson, Nigel Jones, and Andre King are planning to open in April. 2270 Telegraph Ave. at 23rd St., Oakland.

Lastly, over in Jack London Square, ~OLDE DEPOT PUBLIC HOUSE~ is now open (if its website is to be believed). As I mentioned a year ago, the project is from the owners of Beer Revolution, which is just next door. Grub Street originally reported Olde Depot will be just like Beer Revolution, except there will be vegetarian and vegan food, 47-plus taps of local and small breweries, a weekend “beerunch,” and a beer garden. Hours are 12pm-12am daily. 468 3rd St. at Broadway, Oakland.

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Carpenter Kip Mesirow’s sketch of the new front of Chez Panisse; photo via Facebook.

Here’s a quick update on ~CHEZ PANISSE~: After suffering an unfortunate fire in the front of the restaurant on March 8th, the damage is a bit more extensive than originally thought. According to this post on the Chez Panisse website, the reopening dates of the upstairs café and restaurant are currently TBD. The post mentions: “Kip Mesirow, the original artisan builder of the restaurant, has flown out from Vermont and is leading a team of talented woodworkers to rebuild both porches and redesign the façade of the building.” Best wishes to the team as they rebuild.

According to Berkeleyside Nosh, there’s a new craft beer garden and burger restaurant opening called ~MOXY BEER GARDEN~ in South Berkeley’s former Casa Vino. The owners (Mike and Amy Voisenat) are currently behind the Hobnob restaurant on Park Street in Alameda. Look for a variety of burgers, 14 craft beers on tap plus bottled selections, and a variety of wines by the glass. They start renovations in the beginning of April. When Moxy opens, lunch and dinner will be served Tue-Sun. 3136 Sacramento St. at 66th St., Berkeley.

Also mentioned in Berkeleyside Nosh: The restaurant opening in the soon-to-be-closed Caffe Venezia space will be ~MONARCH TRADING CO.~ New owner Joel DiGiorgio is reportedly close friends with Caffe Venezia’s owners and will be opening a “Californian crafthouse” restaurant serving pizza, salads, and California-centric wines and beers. Caffe Venezia has a final hurrah on Tuesday April 9th; Monarch should open in the summer. 1799 University Ave., Berkeley.

Quick bite: According to ABC license activity, ~CLAYPOT~ will be opening in the former Bacheeso’s. 2501 San Pablo Ave. at Dwight, Berkeley.