March 16, 2010

March 16, 2010

Well, the little birdies were correct: Michael Mina is taking over the lease to the ~AQUA~ space since the Bacchus Management Group passed on it. No word yet what Mina has in store, nor do we know an opening date, or when the current Aqua will close. Obviously, more information to follow. 252 California St. at Battery.

I know, I know, MORE PIZZA. The latest establishment to toss their pie into the ring is ~FARINA~, which will be simply calling their upcoming establishment ~PIZZA~. This pizzeria is going to be all about Neapolitan authenticity: the oven, ingredients, and yes, the pizzaiolo will all be from Naples (does that make him a DOP pizzaiolo?). And it’s smack dab in the 18th Street corridor, on the corner of 18th and Valencia; it’s going into the ground-floor commercial space in a new building, with apartments above. The 2,000-square-foot space will have a menu running at a lesser price than Farina’s, with quick but quality items like salumi, cheeses, croquettes, a calzone fritto, and items from the grill. There will also be pasta dishes, but not made by hand like how they do it at Farina. The space will have a small wine bar to hang out at, and a counter selling fresh items to take home (or to Dolores Park), like focaccia, tomato purée, and hopefully Farina’s famous pesto. There will be around 49 seats with the oven as the focal point in the space, with large windows overlooking the street, and outdoor sidewalk seating. The look will have a similar taste to Farina’s, with wood, ceramic, and steel, but with less marble. They hope to open at the end of the summer. 700 Valencia St. at 18th St.

Moving into the former Zazil space in the Westfield Centre is going to be a ~PIZZA PLACE FROM THE LARK CREEK RESTAURANT GROUP~. The 3,500-square-foot artisan pizzeria will be just next door to LarkCreekSteak, serving seasonal, Italian-influenced dishes. The plan is to open in the fourth quarter of 2010. Reportedly vice president and culinary director Adrian Hoffman recently participated in an intensive pizza workshop with Enzo Coccia in Naples, Italy, so Hoffman is going to be overseeing the creation of the Neapolitan pizzas, available for dining in or take-out.


More Valencia Street action: ~SOUTHEND GRILL ‘N’ BAR~ has opened in the former Toad’s space, serving American comfort food like Buffalo wings, burgers, steaks, and chops, with nothing over $20 (complete menu here). It has been going through a soft opening phase, and the grand opening is this Friday March 18th and Saturday March 19th. The 40-seat space was refreshed with a simple and comfortable look. Owner Steve Silver, who was born and raised in the Mission, told me it’s meant to be a neighborhood joint, with affordable pricing. There is a selection of beer on tap and by the bottle, and wine by the glass; lunch and brunch should be starting in a month or so. There will also be outdoor seating along 26th Street. Hours for now are Sun 5pm-9:30pm, Mon-Thu 5pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11:30pm. 1499 Valencia St. at 26th St., 415-648-8623.

According to former Poleng Lounge owner Desi Danganan’s blog, he is going to be opening ~THE SUMMIT~ in the former New College building in the Mission, rather primo real estate. The plans online reveal an art bar/café concept, with an eclectic look. I’ll have to wait and see what Desi says about the whole thing once I hear back, but so far Brent-ski (looks like a nickname to me) of Kambayashi Design will be designing the furnishings—he consulted on the design of Poleng, as well as SOM. and Namu. According to his blog post, Danganan said the project was originally going to be Casa Poleng, the second Poleng “with a twist.” And just like that, I am missing Tim Luym’s adobo chicken wings. Stand by for more… 777 Valencia St. at 19th St.


Just a heads up that ~LOCAL MISSION EATERY~ and Knead Patisserie may be opening as soon as this week—things are very close. The website is live with the menu and class schedule, and more on the concept, check it out. I spoke with partner Jake Des Voignes, who was happy to see the cookbook library going in. You can follow my Twitter feed and/or Local Mission Eatery’s for updates on the actual opening day. Hours will be 11am-6pm, with dinner starting in three weeks or so. Yay.

Even more Mission news, although this one is pequeño: the former Mi Tierra has morphed into ~LOS JAQUIS~, serving dishes from Jalisco. I asked the kind gentleman who picked up the phone what his favorite dish was (in the best broken Spanish I could muster), and he mentioned burritas. No, not burritos: these are more like a fork-and-knife number—but that’s where the explanation ended, so this is something I gotta investigate. Hours are 9am-8pm daily. 324 S. Van Ness Ave. at 14th St., 415-252-8204.

ShowDogs Pickled Louisiana Hot Link.jpg

Louisiana hot link photo by John A. Benson.

Just in time with the longer evening light, chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark of ~SHOW DOGS~ are hosting an evening party on March 25th. Proceeds will benefit the neighboring San Francisco City Academy, a private elementary school for the inner-city children of San Francisco. There will be hot dogs (of course), beer, and live music. Passed bar bites will include my very favorite onion rings, barbecue fries, and mini versions of Show Dogs’ signature dogs, including the organic duck with kimchee, and the organic sweet Italian with ancho-grilled onions, as well as a selection of local microbrews on tap, including Lagunitas IPA, Scrimshaw Pilsner, and 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. Show Dogs will also auction off gift certificates, including dinner for two, to both Show Dogs and sister restaurant Foreign Cinema.

Received word about a brand-new café called ~JEBENA~, serving coffee from Barefoot and loose-leaf teas, along with savory dishes like panini, soup, and salad. Since owner Kinani Ahmed is Ethiopian, he also plans to offer an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, brewing the coffee in a traditional way (this is coming soon). The Lower Polk location means it’s a good spot before or after a movie at the AMC on Van Ness, doubly so when he opens his gelato/ice cream and crêperie shop in the space flanking the café later this summer. Hours are 7am-10pm daily. 990 Polk St. at Geary, 415-409-1200.


~UVA ENOTECA~ has decided to add Sunday brunch to its schedule (I guess their Saturday brunch was looking for some company). Brunch service is 11am-2:30pm, and includes dishes like French toast, fried eggs with pancetta, an open-faced egg panino with Fontina, and a few of their pizzas (many with eggs on them, certo).

~OOLA RESTAURANT & BAR~ is now launching weekday lunch (Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm) and Sunday brunch (10:30am-3pm). Lunch items include the baby back ribs, salads, a Reuben, fish and chips, grilled flat-iron steak, and the trending dish of the year: fried chicken and waffles. Starters are $6-$16, and mains $10-$18; you can see the menu here. (There’s also soup of the day accompanied by a grilled Gruyère sandwich for only $6.) For Sunday brunch, options include French toast stuffed with hazelnut chocolate, truffled egg toast and prosciutto, and Ola’s steak and potato hash—check out the entire brunch menu here. 860 Folsom St. at 4th St., 415-995-2061.


I swear, as soon as I saw pictures of this cute café, I was wishing I had some reason to play hooky and head over to Berkeley, stat. The ~ELMWOOD CAFÉ~ moved into old Ozzie’s on College; it’s a project from owner Michael Pearce, and both managers Kara Hammond and Rachel Ericsen are Café Fanny alums (Kara for eight years, Rachel for four)—although I know Rachel from her fabulous vintage clothes, The Bees Knees Vintage, which is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, sniff (and you may recognize her sweet face from Camino).

Chef Donna Boechler (previously of Lola’s on Solano) has put together a “Berkeley cafe” kind of menu, with healthy breakfast options, plus two sandwiches available per day (yesterday they were chicken with mango chutney and coleslaw, and a ham and cheese panino, and there has also been a vegetarian option with roasted mushrooms, goat cheese, and spinach), soup (like butternut squash, or a recent purée of asparagus and escarole). In the evening, there is one dinner entrée served, like a braised beef stew, a winter vegetable stew, or a pulled pork dish. Pastry chef Mark Chacon (also from Café Fanny) is luring people back with his cranberry or kumquat coffee cake, and fleur-de-sel shortbread cookies. Since Ozzie’s was a soda fountain, they are making some newfangled ones with house-made syrups like pear-vanilla, kumquat, and cranberry (since people are requesting them, milkshakes will be coming later).

The vintage atmosphere is gosh-darned quaint (you can see more pictures of its cuteness here), with a marble counter, bright red stools, and there are even a few outdoor tables. And here’s the amazing part: half of all the profits will be donated to charity. I know, seriously? Wow. That’s something I am happy to help support. Hours are 7am-10pm daily. 2900 College Ave. at Russell, Berkeley, 510-843-1300.

~DRAGON ROUGE~, in the heart of Alameda’s Park street business district, is celebrating its third year of business by adding affordable lunch service; look for Vietnamese dishes like banh mi and pho. Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm. 2304 Encinal St., Alameda, 510-521-1800.

The folks behind Levende East are now opening ~LIEGE SPIRITS LOUNGE~ in Oakland—the grand opening is this Wednesday, March 17th, starting at 7pm. According to a note I received, they will be serving “tapas items and an assortment of healthy, house-made broth-based fondues featuring organic meats and seafood items, and the regional focus of the menu will change every eight weeks, this applies to the food and beverage program.” The first regional focus will be Latin America.

You’ll be able to take a seat at the 12-seat bar, a large communal/game table, a semi-private lounge area that accommodates 10 to 12 persons with a 47” LCD flat-screen, and an additional seating area featuring a 58” flat screen that seats 50. There will also be two ethanol-based fireplaces, and a photo booth.

As for bevvies, there will be 10 specialty cocktails handcrafted by the bar staff including a fresh farmers’ market cocktail every Friday. There will be approximately 20-22 wines available by the glass, ranging in price from $7-$14, four beers on tap, and numerous bottles.There will be happy hour Tue-Fri from 4:30pm-7pm, and during that time they will be serving things like house-cured olives, along with a small assortment of meats and cheeses gratis to guests at the bar. Hours are Tue-Fri 4:30pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 6pm-1am, closed Mon. 481 9th St. at Washington, Oakland, 510-835-4343.

The kind couple behind bargain bite favorite Wally’s Café, Angelica Zuberbuhler and Walid Matar, have now opened ~MS. WALLY’S CAFÉ~, also in Emeryville. While the menu will continue to offer affordable and authentically made Mediterranean and Lebanese dishes like hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, and kebabs, new dishes include crêpes, galettes, and kibbeh. (Walid told me the dishes like the kibbeh are exactly the way he makes them at home—can’t wait to check it out.) The 49-seat restaurant is open from 7am-3pm and then 5pm-9:30pm daily (it opens on the weekend at 8:30am). 4336 San Pablo Ave. at 45th St., Emeryville, 510-547-0992.

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