The façade of The Star; photo via Facebook.
Fred and Elizabeth Sassen of Homestead; photo via Facebook.
Potentially opening in early July in Oakland is a new wine bar and shop called ~THE RED WHALE~ (thanks to a tip on Chowhound). Owner Bradford Taylor is going to primarily focus on small-production California wines (with some on tap), plus some European wines will be in the mix. You will be able to sit and enjoy a glass over some tasty cheese selections, bring a bottle home, or even open a bottle from the retail selection for a small corkage fee. There will also be coffee, too, in case that red wine is getting you sleepy. 3354 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland.
Getting very close to opening is ~THE STAR~ from John Guhl (as mentioned previously on tablehopper, it’s opening in the former Milano Ristorante on Grand Avenue). Guhl was an original partner in Little Star Pizza with Brian Sadigursky and they have since split—this is a solo venture from Guhl. On the menu: both thin-crust and deep-dish pizza, salads, meatballs, wings, and sandwiches. The Star will be open for both lunch and dinner. Keep up with the opening on Facebook. 3425 Grand Ave. at Mandana, Oakland, 510-843-7827.
Also aiming for a July opening is ~HOMESTEAD~, which is opening in the former Zatis on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. Executive chef and co-owner Fred Sassen (Camino, Farallon) is opening the 48-seat restaurant with his wife, co-owner Elizabeth Sassen (previously a sous chef at Farallon and Waterbar). The menu will be on the farm-to-table tip, with starters like baked ricotta with lovage, roasted stone fruit, and Marcona almonds; and duck confit tortellini (dishes will range $9-$14). Mains ($18-$24) could include spit-roasted leg of lamb with spiced baby fava beans, green garlic, and Straus yogurt. Other components include housemade bread, charcuterie, and pasta, plus select cheeses, ice cream, and more that will live up to the homestead name. Stephen Laborde of The Trappist Provisions in Oakland is consulting on the beer and wine list. The location is in a 1920s Julia Morgan building, with contemporary design work by Carrie Shores of Larson Shores Architecture and Daniel Austin of Rocket Restaurant Supply. Look for floor-to-ceiling windows, original brick inlay, subway tile, a custom-built hearth, and an outdoor patio with room for 18. Dinner will be served Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. 4029 Piedmont Ave. at 40th St., Oakland, 510-420-6962.
According to some ABC license activity, Donato Scotti of Donato Enoteca in Redwood City looks to be involved (and perhaps taking over) ~BORGO ITALIA~ in Oakland. At the moment he is unable to comment on the project, but I should have an update from him soon. 499 9th St. at Washington, Oakland, 510-251-1008.
A couple of weeks back, I reported that SF’s ~SMITTEN~ was hoping to open in Rockridge. I was asked to keep things under wraps, but Diablo Dish did a little sleuthing and found out the owners are trying to open in the former Great Harvest Bread Co. at 5800 College Avenue. They are currently trying to secure a conditional use permit for the location, so stand by.
Since we’re talking ice cream, one of my East Bay sources tells me the owners of ~SKETCH~ ice cream are scoping a couple of possible locations in Temescal. This is all unconfirmed, but Diablo Dish has also been hearing rumors: co-owner Eric Shelton confirms he and his wife Ruthie Planas-Shelton are scouting a potential second location in the 510, but it’s all TBD on the where for now.
Coming to downtown Berkeley is a third location of ~BITTERSWEET~, in the former New Amsterdam coffee shop, according to Berkeleyside Nosh. There will be both sweet and savory options, plus coffee, and their housemade bread, yogurt, and more. 1952 University Ave. at Milvia.
Guess who is verrrrrry close to reopening after an unfortunate fire, for real? ~CHINA VILLAGE~ in Albany! The intrepid Melanie Wong of Chowhound fame swung by the adored Sichuan restaurant’s location, and said they are just waiting for their health inspection. Look for a soft opening the last week of June, and the official opening on July 1st. 1335 Solano Ave. at Ramona, Albany, 510-525-2285.