April 25, 2006

After what seems like an interminable amount of waiting and construction delays, at last, the ~FALLETTI'S FOODS~ project at Broderick Place (Broderick and Oak Streets) is looking close. How close? If all goes well, they're looking at a September launch. The Fallettis lost their lease in 1999 from their original location at the old Petrini Plaza on Fulton and Masonic, and the neighborhood wanted them to stay. Falletti's Foods will pick up where they left off, offering a quality grocery store highlighting top-end produce and a 40-foot long counter at their butcher shop. Tick Falletti and his two sons, Dominic and Jamie, will run the family business. (In case you're wondering about the name Tick, like I was, he liked clocks when he was a kid so he became Tick Tock—as time went on, he eventually lost the "tock." Is that the cutest thing or what?) The size will be similar to Mollie Stone's on California, a size that is best-situated for more of a European and old-fashioned concept of buying what you need for today and tomorrow, and not the entire week. There will also be a Peet's Coffee with seats in the courtyard, and a café for casual dining for lunch and dinner (and possibly breakfast? TBD!) that will hopefully be able to offer outdoor sidewalk seating. They are currently seeking an operator for the café—Pascal Rigo had originally considered moving in, but it was going to have too much crossover with the other star tenant, which will be the delicious DeLessio!

This second location of ~DELESSIO MARKET AND BAKERY~ will be offering an array of over 70 take-home items, which will include a deli with roasted meats and cheeses; a self-service bakery with cupcakes, cookies, and cakes; grilled panini; a steam table for hot dishes and food-by-the-pound, like their popular tofu dish, soups, meatloaf, rotisserie chicken, and mac 'n' cheese; and composed salads. Unlike the Market Street location, there will not be any seating for on-premise dining. I can't wait to have a place to pick up last-minute birthday cupcakes and delicious sandwiches before heading to the beach.

The long-vacant Habana space on Van Ness has reopened as ~LA JOYA~ as of April 11. The new owners are David Carava, and his fiancée, Adriana Ponce, who is cooking in the kitchen with her mother, Lucy Ponce. While the Ponces hail from Tampico, which is north of Veracruz on the eastern coast of Mexico, they are tailoring the menu to focus on the best Mexico's various regions have to offer. For example, you'll find a chicken mole from Pueblo, and corn soup typical of Mexico City. The tortillas are handmade, and most vegetables are organic. The chicken is free-range, and they also feature hormone-free beef and pork. You can't miss the bright persimmon exterior, and the interior was also repainted, with resurfaced wood floors, a new tile ceramic floor near the bar, and Mexican barstools. While mojitos remain on the menu, a vestige of Habana, you'll now find pomegranate margaritas and the "La Joya" margarita made with Don Julio tequila, Cointreau, and a floater of Grand Marnier. Uno más, por favor. Open Tue-Sun, 5pm-10pm, and until 11pm on Fri and Sat, 2080 Van Ness Ave., 415-441-2822.

There is some serious talk floating around town of some restaurants closing on Monday, ~MAY 1~ in support of their immigrant kitchen staff. Some immigrant activists are calling for a nationwide one-day boycott of work, school, and business in retaliation to the recent House of Representatives anti-immigrant bill that is in front of Congress. So far, I've heard that Bistro Aix, the Elite Café and Elizabeth Falkner are talking about supporting the boycott by closing their establishments—their point being that without their immigrant staff (both legal and illegal), how can the restaurant function? Other restaurants, like Papalote, are staying open, but will not penalize employees who choose to not come into work that day. I guess we'll see what happens next Monday…

Just in time for this May's challenge of eating locally, on April 29 the ~FILLMORE FARMER'S MARKET~ kicks in. It'll be running for it's fourth year at O'Farrell and Fillmore and the Fillmore Center Plaza, every Saturday from 9am-1pm. They will even have jazz playing each week until it wraps up the week before Thanksgiving. You can read more here.

And on Thursday, May 5, the ~NIGHT MARKET~ returns to the Ferry Building Marketplace. The evening farmer's market runs from 4pm-8pm each Thursday until October, and is a great way to pick up come fresh lettuce from Happy Boy and peaches from Frog Hollow (once they start showing up...) on your way home from work.

Starting May 3, ~CAMPTON PLACE~ will have a new sommelier in place: Shana Dilworth, the dynamic assistant GM and sommelier at Jardinière. Dilworth, 38, already passed her advanced sommelier exam, and is currently studying for the Master Sommelier, which she will take in either November or December. Cheers, Shana.

Speaking of beverages, the city is seriously becoming a tea zone: recent openings include Modern Tea, Leland Tea, and now ~SAMOVAR TEA LOUNGE~ has opened a second location in the upper terrace at the Yerba Buena Gardens. The view of the gardens is spectacular—it's a veritable urban oasis. They are open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, high tea, and dinner. To celebrate the opening, they are hosting a tea dinner on Friday April 28 (7pm-9pm), a gala reception on Saturday (6pm-10pm), and a tea brunch on Sunday (10am-2pm). Open daily, 9am-10pm. Upper Terrace, 730 Howard St., 415-227-9400.

Vietnamese food lovers are thrilled with the reopening of ~LOTUS GARDEN~ in a new location, on the west side of Mission at Valencia (next door to Blue Plate). It always struck a winning balance of hominess, quality, and good prices. Bring on the crepes. Open daily for lunch and dinner. 3216 Mission St., 415-282-9088

Mission locals have been happy to see the sign announcing Bi-Rite Market's new venture, the ~BI-RITE CREAMERY~ launching this summer, just across the street from the market. The ice cream will be made with Straus Family Creamery organic dairy products (yum). 3692 18th St.

One opens, another closes. A tablehopper reader has reported the windows of ~ISABELLA'S ICE CREAM AND DESSERT CAFÉ~ in Noe Valley are covered in brown paper and a small sign says closed (as in for good).

Most folks have already heard the big news about ~A16~: the former pizzaiolo and partner, Christophe Hille, has left to return to his family in the East Coast. Moving up in the ranks to take his place is Nate Appleman, who has been at A16 since it opened. Appleman is also a certified pizzaiolo, so don't fret—everything will still be quite delizioso. He is also a whiz at making salumi, and is Mister Enthusiasm, so take a seat at the counter the next time you're there and wish him congratulations.

Tenderloin residents will soon have a cool dining destination in the 'hood, ~BRICK~, which has moved into the former Tappe's Bar and Grill space, AKA the Sutter Gutter. The partners are Matt Sturm, Chris Cronk, and Leslie Shirah, of Solstice Restaurant and Fly Bar. Executive chef Noah Tucker has worked at Michael Mina, in addition to Town (NY), Oceana (NY), and Aqua-Grill (NY). He's crafted a menu of modern American cuisine with international influences, including signatures like confit buffalo wings with gorgonzola and root slaw, hello. Most items on the 25-plate menu ($8-$22) are designed to be shared, so go with people you like, har. The modern-rustic space has hardwood floor and yes, there are original brick walls. The space will seat 80, and is designed to be a casual and easy spot to meet up with friends for cocktails or a full meal. There will be a communal table, a full-service 20-seat copper bar, ringside seats at the exhibition kitchen, a separate cocktail lounge called The Gallery, and a private room that seats 10. Dinner nightly 5pm-12am; the bar is open until 2am. 1085 Sutter St. at Larkin St., 415-441-4232.

Michael Schley, formerly of U Street Lounge, has recently landed at ~SOLUNA CAFÉ & LOUNGE~, the restaurant next to the Asian Art Museum.