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Dec 7, 2015 21 min read

December 8, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: Champers the elf is on the loose.

December  8, 2015 - This week's tablehopper: Champers the elf is on the loose.
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This week's tablehopper: Champers the elf is on the loose.                    

My friend Roberta’s beautiful and bountiful table for our annual truffle lunch together. This year, we toasted the life of Chuck Williams. Photo: ©

Holidays are in full swing, and I am definitely loving this month’s party schedule and catching up with friends and family. Friday night kicked off in epic disco fashion with the legendary Giorgio Moroder, who was playing for the first time in San Francisco in decades, and at age 75, much respect! I couldn’t stay out toooooo late, because Saturday I scooted on down to Redwood City, picking up my dad along the way, for a fantastic Italian wine tasting and party at Donato Enoteca. Such beautiful wines! And it was such a generous spread (yay, porchetta), and I will put this annual festa on my priority list for next year, that’s for sure.

Sunday was an annual truffle lunch with my culinary fairy godmother (as I like to call her), Roberta Klugman. She always sets a marvelous holiday table, and I’m in charge of the slow-cooked and creamy eggs that she then shaves a glorious tartufo over (and you know we have some bubbles—my elf name is Champers, after all). It’s also fun to taste the year’s latest olio nuovo with her—so great to have Capezzana back this year after last year’s dismal non-harvest.

We had a special memento at the table: a pic from about 10 years ago of the two of us with Chuck Williams, the Williams of Williams-Sonoma, who just passed away at the admirable age of 100. He was such a kind man and really embodied the American dream—and we have him to thank for elevating our culinary tools in America! We had a whisk on the table in his honor. Cheers to you, Chuck!

Sunday evening was the tablehopper and Champagne Henriot banquet dinner at Great China—32 of us enjoyed a memorable meal, with some gorgeous cuvées! Take a look at the photo album here. And trust me, you’ll want to have some Henriot brut rosé with your next Great China Peking duck! That was such a fun event, thank you to Champagne Henriot and Great China’s James Yu (and his team) for taking such good care of us!

If you missed out on the fun, do know we have just eight tickets left for the upcoming tablehopper two-martini lunch at Bix on Friday December 18th! Here’s your excuse to leave your office early that day, come enjoy some holiday cheer (two SKYY Vodka or Bulldog Gin martinis, to be exact), listen to holiday music from Veronica Klaus and Tammy Hall (who are performing live for the event!), and the famous Bix burger is on the menu (of course)! #LetsHolidayy

One last thing: a lot of us are really, really fortunate with the lives we lead. There are some folks who are trying to rebuild their lives, and the holidays are an especially great time to lend a helping hand. I’d like to do a shout-out to the “Adopt-a-Student” holiday drive for students in the ECS CHEFS (Conquering Homeless Through Employment in Food Services) Program! They have requested simple items such as shoes and clothes to help them prepare for school and their internship placements. For more details, please click here to be assigned a student. You can even buy a present in honor of that friend of yours who is tough to buy for—because this present will have so much meaning! Thanks everyone!

Okay friends, enjoy the week, and we’ll see you Friday! Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

First Look at Starboard, Opening Soon in the Mission


Matthew Wyne and his original artwork for the front windows (note the cow “ears”). Photo: ©


The punchy banquette in the dining room. Photo: ©


The interior. Photo: ©


Partner Daniel Hyatt. Photo: ©

It’s time to stick our heads inside the upcoming STARBOARD, opening soon on 16th Street, and take a look around. When we first mentioned the project earlier this year, we wrote that local barman Daniel Hyatt was partnering with Patty West (owner of Slate Bar, where he currently works) and Suzanne Ray (who used to bartend with him at The Alembic).

The 49-seat hofbrau will be open late and will serve beer and wine (about 20 wines and 20 beers, all in bottle). The menu is going to start out simple, adding more dishes and specials in time. It’s meant to be accessible and flexible, and as you read through it, you’ll see Hyatt’s cheeky tone that I used to love on The Alembic menu.

You can get scallion hush puppies, jerked and blackened fish, smoked turkey with Parmesan gravy, pork sausage, or roast beef, served as a dinner plate or sandwich. (And that roast beef turns into a French dip sandwich, with pho jus.) Snacks and sides round out the menu.

The space has paper-topped tables (doodling is encouraged), with a punch of color provided by the tufted vermilion banquette along one wall. Along another wall are two large custom pieces by designer and artist Matthew Wyne, a fun exploration in fonts and animal whimsy (you can see him at work here—he also did the custom pieces on the front windows). You can look at this short video of him painting the exterior sign.

In the back is a copper-topped bar, which has a standing area. The space has a fun, eclectic style, with overhead pendant lights that were formerly at Harry’s Hofbrau, and there are mismatched vintage windows and mirrors on the walls. There’s also a pass-through window—you’ll be able to order food while in Slate next door (and there are cocktails there too; look for an expanded list soon).

Inspections are currently in process, but they have everything in place and are excited to open very soon—best-case scenario would be in two or three weeks. Follow along on Instagram in the meantime. Hours will be Tue-Wed 5pm-12am, Thu-Sat 5pm-3am. Eventually they will add Sun and Mon, as well as brunch. 2919 16th St. at S. Van Ness.

Coming in 2016: Uma Casa to Noe Valley, Second Souvla to Divis, Mosu to Fillmore


A display at one of Uma Casa’s pop-ups. Photo: ©


Bring on the juicy potatoes (at Souvla)! Photo: ©

Some exciting news broke about chef Telmo Faria’s location for his upcoming UMA CASA project: he’ll be taking over and remodeling the Incanto space in Noe Valley. Scoop reports the 75-seat restaurant is targeting a summer 2016 opening.

Faria was born in the Bay Area but grew up on the Azores, and eventually returned to California. He was well known as the executive chef and partner in the TMI restaurant group (Tacolicious, Mosto, Chino) in San Francisco, but now he’s doing his own project. Look for a menu that features Faria’s spin on Portuguese cuisine, with some California influences and obviously some Portuguese wines as well. You can keep up with his pop-ups and more on Facebook. 1550 Church St. at Duncan

Wow, my neighborhood continues to freaking ROCK. So happy to hear that a second location of SOUVLA is coming to the former Herbivore on Divis! As they say, they’re “bringing the opa to Nopa!” When it opens in mid-2016, we’ll be able to enjoy Charles Bililies’s trademark Greek pita wraps and salads with rotisserie roasted meats (under the day-to-day oversight from chef Tony Cervone), plus Greek fries, an all-Greek wine and beer list, and they’ll be adding some alfresco atmosphere with that back patio too! 531 Divisadero St. at Fell.

Meanwhile, Hoodline filed an initial report on a new project, MOSU, which will be opening across the street from State Bird Provisions—they did some recon after seeing a Craigslist post, which mentions an opening in January 2016. The chef is South Korea native Sung Anh, who was the chef de cuisine at Aziza. It will have 18 seats (reservations only), and the fine dining experience will feature some “Asian flavors and ingredients.”

Eater adds that Anh has worked for chef Corey Lee at both The French Laundry and Benu (his online CV says as chef de partie) and counts him as a big influence. Look for Anh to “mix Korean, Japanese and Chinese influences and use French techniques through which to filter the Asian flavors.” It will be kaiseki-style menu, with 12-15 courses, and will clock in around $160. Mosu may even soft open in late December. Hours will be Tue-Sat 5:30pm-9pm. Stand by for more. 1552 Fillmore St. at Geary.

Mission Tidbits: Alamo Drafthouse Menu, Citizen Fox Pop-Up Extends Hours, Smitten Ice Cream, St. Vincent for Sale


Nashville hot chicken sandwich at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission. Photo: Cory Ryan.

If you’re curious about chef Ronnie New’s menu for the upcoming ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE NEW MISSION—which is opening December 17th—it’s going to reflect his New Orleans roots, plus some NorCal seasonality, and of course queso will be on there (Austin, represent). For anyone who has never been to an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, you will enjoy your meal and drinks while watching a movie, with stealthy servers bringing everything to your seat.

Snacks include popcorn with the option of truffle-Parmesan butter, housemade kimchi powder, sriracha flakes, or clarified butter; deviled eggs with smoked trout and dill; and general’s wings with garlic-chile, celery root, and apple slaw. Salads include a d’Anjou pear salad with watercress, fromage blanc, candied pecans, and rosemary vinaigrette, or a heartier Cobb.

Sandwiches have a burger (naturally), a breakfast burger (with brioche, bacon jam, fried egg, blue cheese, and arugula—perfect for a wake and bake and matinee), and I can’t wait to try their Nashville hot chicken. Vegetarians will be pleased to see the beet Reuben, with rye bread, “pastrami” beets, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing. The extensive menu also has pizzas, pancetta mac and cheese, and bourbon-glazed ribs. Boozy shakes, check, plus 27 beers on tap and craft cocktails. Freshly baked cookies include peanut butter banana, looking good! 2550 Mission St. at 22nd St.

Just down the street, the upcoming vegan restaurant and brewery CITIZEN FOX is currently popping up in the former Hapa Ramen space in the Mission, and they are expanding their hours for the holidays. Dinner is now available Wed-Sun 6pm-10pm, and brunch is still served on Sundays from 10:30am-3pm. Plus, they’ve brought bar manager Lauren Fitzgerald onboard to round out the cocktail offerings, so be sure to try some adult beverages while you’re there. 2293 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-688-4288.

In 2016, SMITTEN ICE CREAM is opening another location, this time in the Mission. They are taking over two storefronts on Valencia Street and will offer their house-churned and liquid nitrogen-frozen ice creams in seasonal flavors. As with the other locations, all of the ingredients are from local sources, including Clover milk and cream. 904-908 Valencia St. at 20th St.

And lastly, we received word from David Lynch a couple of weeks ago that he was putting ST. VINCENT up for sale, even after trying to rejigger things to be more manageable, although he asked us to keep it quiet. But now he’s talking about it publicly, so go enjoy your last glass there while you can.

St. Vincent            - 1270 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-285-1200

Sneak Peek at Mr. Tipple's Menu, Soft Opening This Friday


The Silva linguica tartine. Photo courtesy of Mr. Tipple’s.


Pulled mushroom sandwiches. Photo courtesy of Mr. Tipple’s.

We’re going to be running a full piece on this next week, but we wanted you to know that MR. TIPPLE’S RECORDING STUDIO is soft opening this Friday and Saturday (although the official opening is Tuesday December 15th).

On the menu: live jazz, craft cocktails ($12 each), and some fun bar bites, including two kind of lumpia (portobello or shrimp and pork) with fish sauce ranch and sweet chile sauce, and sandwiches, including a Silva linguica tartine, patty melt on combo rye and sourdough bread, and a pulled mushroom sandwich with shredded and smoked oyster mushrooms, mushroom barbecue sauce, coleslaw, crispy shallots, and American cheese. Be sure to check out the desserts from Edward Martinez too: green Chartreuse ice cream is sure to get all our city’s bartenders’ attention. Take a first look at the complete menu here.

The project is from Jay Bordeleau (Maven), with bar director Chase Williamson (Maven, Prospect, Nopa) and executive chef Joey Elenterio (Wayfare Tavern, Chez TJ). The design is by G. Paoletti Design Lab (Maven, Per Diem, Scotland Yard).

We’ll talk about the space and more next week, but do know a 20 percent gratuity will automatically be added to your bill, so there’s no need to figure out the tip after a few cocktails. And there’s no cover either. Open nightly 5pm-1am. 39 Fell St. at Van Ness.

A New Owner at Clare's Deli, Which Will Transition to Turner's Kitchen in 2016


The French dip at Clare’s. Photo: ©


Clare’s Deli. Photo via Clare’s website.

Last week, when we had that nice rainy day, I decided to indulge in my craving for a French dip from CLARE’S DELI, the sandwich shop right by the 500 Club. It ends up that after five years of running the deli, owner Clare Hulme—who many know from her years at the 500 Club—passed the torch to new owner Ken Turner in November. (Hulme is reportedly heading up to Santa Rosa after two decades in the city.)

Turner has quite the rooted SF background. He cooked at Zuni for seven years and most recently worked at getting The Market up and running. And now he has his very own pet project. He is going to close the deli for a remodel in February for a couple of weeks (it’ll be lighter, with some tile and such), and when it reopens, it will be TURNER’S KITCHEN. Now, before you start getting too upset, you should know that Turner cares a lot about keeping the place a neighborhood anchor—he knows how much people enjoy Clare’s sandwiches and he will be keeping many staples on the menu. The same staff will also be there.

But with his NorCal cookery background, you will notice some tweaks here and there—he’s going to shorten the menu a little and feature more farmers’ market-fresh vegetables and seasonal items, which you’ll notice in dishes like the soups. When he reopens, there will also be earlier hours, opening at 7am for drip coffee from Sightglass and pastries, plus later hours for bites at the 500 Club (until 10pm, and 11pm on the weekend). There will be a refrigerated case with some grab-and-go items and juices from Happy Moose. Turner even has some picnic baskets in the works for Dolores Park excursions.

We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, come on by and meet the very friendly Ken, enjoy a well-made sandwich, check out the selection of Devil’s Teeth cookies and brownies, and grab a bag of the duck fat-roasted nuts with Mexican chile and spices to snack on later. 3505 B 17th St. at Guerrero, 415-621-3505.

North Beach Haps (Original U.S. Restaurant and Geppetto Reopen)


The Italian hoagie from Geppetto. Yelp photo by Katie Anne N.

A couple of quick North Beach notes for you. Hoodline reports the ORIGINAL U.S. RESTAURANT has already opened in its new home, the former Colosseo Ristorante. It’s open for lunch, with sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes, while dinner brings white tablecloths, dishes like risotto and osso buco, and plenty of Italian wine to choose from. Hours are daily 11am-12am midnight. 414 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo, 415-398-1300.

Meanwhile, after a year or so of being closed, the Italian deli GEPPETTO has reopened (it’s from the chef of Pinocchio, Giovanni Zocca). You can get sandwiches and some grocery items as well. Initial hours are 11am-5pm. 658 Vallejo St. at Stockton, 415-291-8811.

Bini's Kitchen Brick-and-Mortar Location Now Open


Momos with tomato-cilantro sauce from Bini’s. Photo via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. La Cocina alum Binita Pradhan has opened her first brick-and-mortar location of BINI’S KITCHEN. According to Scoop, the restaurant is opening in the former Zog’s Dogs.

The location will serve her signature momos (Nepalese dumplings) with meat and vegetarian fillings, two curries of chicken or legumes, and chai and mango lassi. Everything is made from scratch, and her spices are even ground by hand. The space is just for takeout and will be open for lunch Mon-Fri 11am-5pm. 1 Post St. at Market, 415-361-6911.

Blue Bottle Coffee and Tartine No Longer Merging


Blue Bottle at Bryant Park. Photo via Facebook.


Sesame loaf from Tartine Bakery. Photo via Facebook.

Earlier this year, the big news was that two iconic San Francisco-born businesses, Blue Bottle Coffee and Tartine Bakery, were going to merge. And now, seven months later, the merger is off. They “ultimately decided that remaining separate companies makes the most sense,” according to a press statement from both companies.

Which makes this a good time to update you on the progress of Tartine Manufactory in the Heath building, which is now targeting spring 2016 for an opening. (The original bakery, at 600 Guerrero, will also be getting a big update.) They also have projects in LA, New York, and Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Blue Bottle Coffee has its upcoming project coming to 2453-2455 Fillmore St. (in the former Juicy News and Tully’s), which has been making its way through planning. Blue Bottle also has additional projects in the works in the Bay Area, New York, LA, and Japan.

International Holiday Dinners at Feastly, Hecho, and Myriad


Festive meals with Feastly. Photo from Facebook.


By Dana Eastland. Feastly is welcoming the holiday season with a huge variety of parties, including a special Napa Provisions party on Thursday December 17th at their newest event location on Market Street. Four Napa restaurants will participate: ZuZu, Smoke, Hog Island, and Oenotri. The menu includes ZuZu wood-fired paella, slow-roasted suckling pig, oysters shucked on the half shell, and Oenotri house-cured dry salami, mortadella, and cheeses. The party kicks off at 7pm, and tickets are $100 per person and include food, cocktails, beer, and wine. 747 Market St. at 4th St.

In addition to the Napa Provisions party, Feastly has plenty more great holiday and winter meals happening. Here are all the SF options, and remember tablehopper readers get $10 off using this link. Ho ho ho!

The fabulous Juanita More! is hosting a holiday party at HECHO on Monday December 21st from 5pm-9pm. The holiday dinner includes her special family tamale recipe, as well as an appetizer and dessert. The prix-fixe dinner is $29 per person, and drinks can be purchased separately. If you’d prefer to take Juanita’s tamales home, you do that too—they’re $24 per dozen, and her escabeche vegetables and salsas are also available. Get your tickets and to-go items right here. 2200 Market St. at 15th St., 415-926-5630.

For an international celebration of holiday culinary traditions, MYRIAD GASTRO PUB is offering a 12 Nights of Christmas menu every night until Christmas Eve. The first one is on Sunday December 13th and will be the Colombian-inspired pernil asado, or roasted pork shoulder, served with plantains and rice. The dishes will count down to the Christmas Eve finale of whole roasted fish with fennel and tomato inspired by the Italian feast of the seven fishes. Other dishes include toltott kaposzta, a Hungarian ham-stuffed cabbage with smoky tomato sauce, and Mexican pozole with chiles, cabbage, and radishes. Here is the menu for each evening. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-525-4335.

510 Updates: Cuisine Changes at Starline, Souk Savanh Reopens, More


Nam kaon from Souk Savanh. Yelp photo by Bryan W.

By Dana Eastland. STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB has a new chef in the kitchen, according to Scoop: William Lue, who has been running Burmese restaurants in the Bay Area for a long time. The plan is to bring the Starline staff’s favorite Burmese dishes to their kitchen, including the tea leaf salad, samosas, and rainbow noodle salad from Lue’s current project, Grocery Café. Lue won’t exactly become the chef at Starline; rather, he’ll be helping out in the kitchen and consulting until the current staff has mastered his recipes, says co-owner Sam White. 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at W. Grand, Oakland, 510-593-2109.

East Oakland Laotian restaurant SOUK SAVANH has reopened after closing for a remodel earlier this year. East Bay Express reports that there is a new chef in the kitchen, though the recipes and dishes remain the same. Hours are daily 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 1927 International Blvd. at 19th Ave., Oakland, 510-533-6021.

On Saturday December 12th, the HAPUKU FISH SHOP at Rockridge Market Hall is hosting a special tasting of seafood alternatives to Dungeness crab as well as holiday treats. There will be Sterling caviar, housemade salmon rillettes, and oysters Rockefeller, all available for tasting from 12pm-2pm. The holiday menu will be available for orders until December 31st. 5655 College Ave. at Shafter, Oakland, 510-250-6700.


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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Rocks Den Now Open in Excelsior


Rocks Den bar. Photo from Facebook.

There’s a new sports bar in the Excelsior, ROCKS DEN, and Yelpers are reporting that it’s now open and slinging strong drinks (along with offering several screens of sports television). There’s a fireplace and pool table in the back for those less interested in television, and the design is a little more thought out than your average sports dive. There are nice wooden tabletops, wallpaper, and even a copper bar. Hours are Mon-Wed 4pm-12am, Thu-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 10am-2am, Sun 10am-12am. 4431 Mission St. at Avalon, 415-769-5100.

Vin Debut Reopens in West Portal


Vin Debut. Instagram photo by Burke Wines.

After a fire in 2012 closed VIN DEBUT in West Portal, it has finally reopened in a new space in the neighborhood. They are serving wine and a light menu, including small dishes like a smoked duck flatbread, smoked salmon, beef tartare, and hummus. Époisses in the house. Of course there is plenty of wine, and they also plan to relaunch their wine club soon. Happy hour is 4pm-6pm, with select wines for $6 and select beers for $4. Hours are Wed-Sat 4pm-12am, Sun-Tue 4pm-10pm. 9 West Portal Ave. at Ulloa, 415-592-8043.

Champagne and Oyster Fête at FPWM, and Quality Wine Delivery!


Champers and oysters, oh my! At the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. Photo via Facebook.

Get your holiday fancy on at FERRY PLAZA WINE MERCHANT’S annual Champagne and Oyster Fête. From 4pm-9pm you can try their Champagne flights from Krug, Pol Roger, and Roederer, plus any Champagne purchased to take home will be 15 percent off the retail price. Plus, Hog Island will be shucking oysters for $18 per half dozen and $32 for a dozen from 4:30pm-8pm.

Flights are $65 (for vintage and tête de cuvée) and $49 (for rosé!), plus plenty of options will be available by the glass; peek at them all here. Pop, fizz, clink! And happy holidays. One Ferry Plaza, Shop 23, at Embarcadero, 415-391-9400.

While you’re out holiday party hopping and the fizz has run dry, did you know you can place an order with the new wine delivery service Kickshaw and get a bottle within an hour? And we’re not talking about some crappy juice here—there are some quality picks! Take a look at their sparklers and you’ll see what I mean. The partners are Dave Smiddy and Gus Vahlkamp (previously at The Slanted Door), and they maintain their own inventory, featuring many high-quality grower-producers. The delivery fee is $7.99 and they offer 10 percent off when purchasing two or more bottles. But right now you can use “friends10” on your order and get 10 percent off, even if it’s one bottle. Delivery hours are Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. Cheers!


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Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

The Feast of the Seven Fishes Takes Off--and You Can Too


Two of the pastas from my family’s Cenone/Feast of Seven Fishes—our favorite anchovy and bread crumb pasta is the carb mountain in the front. Photo: ©

Event Info

Thursday Dec 24, 2015

By Dana Eastland. Feast of the Seven Fishes, the Italian Christmas Eve tradition, has really taken off in the last few years. And why not? Who doesn’t want to eat out on Christmas Eve, and on local, sustainable seafood, no less? Here are some local spots serving traditional seafood dinners on the night before Christmas, and of course, there are even more on OpenTable.

The annual feast at A16 promises a great time, with several courses served family style, including pastas (like saffron cavatelli with mussels, ceci nero, chile, lemon, and chervil) and appetizers. The menu also includes a clam pizza for an $18 supplement. The feast is $100 per person, and beverage pairings are also available for an additional cost. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

Of course A16 ROCKRIDGE wouldn’t miss out on the action. They are also serving a special feast, including cornmeal fried oysters and potato gnocchi with smoked trout, featuring seafood from TwoXSea and Water2Table. Peep the menu here. The dinner is served family style and costs $90 per person—wine pairings are available. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

The Little Italy pop-up at MINA’S TEST KITCHEN simply must celebrate the Seven Fishes. Chef Adam Sobel will be offering seven courses served family style, including an opener of fried calamari (of course!), followed by a veritable gluttonous feast of Calvisius caviar with zeppole, lobster Bolognese, and roasted branzino. The dinner is $125 per person, and reservations can be made on the restaurant’s website. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore, 415-625-5469.

The prix-fixe menu at LOCANDA is family-friendly and includes a menu option for children. The menu offers multiple courses, including insalata di mare, rigatoncini with blue crab and urchin, and salt-crusted red snapper. Tickets are $142 for adults or $60 for children, and wine pairings are available separately.

LUNGOMARE in Oakland has a perfect location for a seaside (or bayside) feast and is offering a special seafood menu for $60 per person, $80 with wine pairings. Select à la carte menu options and a children’s menu will also be available. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 1 Broadway at Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-444-7171.

Also in Oakland, DESCO is serving their regular à la carte menu as well as an optional prix-fixe option for $48 or $65. The main course is a traditional seafood stew of clams, Mediterranean mussels, poached octopus, prawns, and baby calamari, served with fettunta (grilled bread with olive oil). 499 9th St. at Washington, Oakland, 510-663-9000.

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