A beautiful start to an omakase tour de force at the ICHI Sushi counter last week while celebrating tablehopper’s 12th anniversary. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Of course the one Monday I sneak away from my desk to enjoy a special Sardinian dinner at 54 Mint, and the week just blows up with news. Ha! Well, I’m glad I went, even if I’m a little short on sleep, because now I have a new favorite amaro: mirtamaro from Bresca Dorada. And it’s always wonderful to meet the maker, especially when they come from a remote place like Sardinia. Grazie, Paolo Melis, for coming to San Francisco! We had such a fun industry table of Italians and Italophiles.
It gets me excited for Tre Bicchieri next week, when all the Italian winemakers descend on SF, which is also on Festa della Donna, so it’s going to be a very extra kind of day. (Note to self: no morning meetings that Friday.)
Next week, La Cocina is celebrating International Women’s Day all week with A Week of Women in Food (March 5th-11th). Take a look at the special dinners hosted at locations around town, pairing La Cocina chefs with local chefs, plus beer and spirits partners. Book your spot now!
I’m gearing up for a big Sunday: it’s the Academy of Friends gala (you coming?), and the restaurant lineup this year is making me hungry. From Nightbird (in VIP) serving waffles with caviar (provided by The Caviar Co.), smoked egg yolk, and crème fraîche, to my favorite Sichuan “working hands” dumplings from China Live, and all the fun desserts (thanks to the vintage carnival/circus theme!), well, it’s going to be a wonderful night and benefit. Many heartfelt thanks to everyone who is participating (scroll down here to see). Get your ticket for the best Oscars party in town!
And now, I need to get back to my own three-ring circus over here. Bisous! Marcia Gagliardi
Dominique Crenn is not only busy opening her upcoming BAR CRENN (opening mid-March—the 13th is the current date!), but she also just announced a project coming to the Salesforce Tower: BOUTIQUE CRENN. Scoop reports it will be a combination restaurant (featuring ingredients from her Sonoma farm), boulangerie, and patisserie, and there will also be a fashion component: she wants to host art shows, installations, and fashion pop-ups. SF, you ready for some fashion? Lord we could use some.
Boutique Crenn will be occupying a 4,000-square-foot space on the first floor and another 1,000 square feet in the lobby. Crenn plans to open later this year, will keep you posted as this takes shape. Mission St. and Fremont.
Lucky us, she’s back! The new chef de cuisine of DEL POPOLO is Michaela Rahorst, taking over for opening cdc Jeffrey Hayden. Rahorst was most recently the cdc at Frances, departing in late 2016 to travel, rest, and regroup; she also worked some private dinners and special events. Her background also includes time cooking with notable chefs Daniel Humm, Christopher Kostow (at Chez TJ), and Ron Siegel (at the Ritz-Carlton), and she helped open Frances back in 2009. She wasn’t planning to go back to restaurant life, but she liked owner Jon Darsky’s thoughtful approach and dedication to sustainability.
Now at Del Popolo, she will be creating all the small plates on the menu while Darsky will continue the pizza magic. Look for a market-fresh and Mediterranean approach to the dishes, keeping things simple and approachable (and utterly delicious). Her current dishes include Double 8 Dairy Jersey milk ricotta (which they make special for Del Popolo) with toasted baguette and Séka Hills olive oil; mozzarella di bufala with roasted beets, winter citrus, hazelnuts, and dill; and baked egg in winter greens with green garlic cream, which I want for brunch, like, right now. She’s having fun learning how to prep some ingredients in the wood-fired oven—she started getting her feet wet while helping out at Del Popolo during the busy holidays, but her official start date is March 6th (although you can enjoy some of her new additions to the menu now).
In fact, next Thursday March 8th, you can enjoy her cooking alongside Chris Kronner of Kronnerburger as they host a winemaker dinner together with Subject to Change Wine Co. (yes, you are reading that correctly—this is their inaugural vintage). These are natural wines from single-vineyard sites, made from either organically or biodynamically farmed grapes. The family-style three-course dinner (starters, snacks, burgers, pizza, and dessert!) is $90 (inclusive of food, wine, tax, and service) and will be held in their private garden dining space. 6:30pm-9:30pm. 855 Bush St. at Taylor.
After chef Anthony Strong left the Delfina Restaurant Group back in 2016 after 11 years, he then launched his idea for a restaurant-less delivery service, Young Fava, operating out of the Turtle Tower kitchen in the evenings. He soon became disenchanted with the concept for various reasons, and announced he wanted to go back to more of a restaurant format where he would have contact with his guests.
He then did a month of some fantastic pop-ups under the name Cibi Cotti at the former Local Mission Market—testing dishes and ideas while scouting for a permanent brick-and-mortar location—until new ownership took over. Strong soon found his spot through his friend, Scott Youkilis, owner of HOG & ROCKS, and what a great location it is.
Youkilis says Hog & Rocks was coming up on eight years in its prime Mission location, and he decided it was time to move on. With Strong’s interest in the space, it was the right time to make a move; the two of them will be working together in the transition of the space. The plan is to close in mid-April, Youkilis will be keeping things business as usual until they have an official closing date finalized. So swing by now for all the oysters, all the ham, all the cocktails.
As for what Strong has in mind, he is remaining tight-lipped about it until March, so I’ll keep you posted. He does say he’s thinking about all unicorn everything. And axe-throwing. (Kidding.) Whatever it is, I know it will be thoughtfully considered, creative, and delicious. We all have something to look forward to.
Hog & Rocks - 3431 19th St. San Francisco - 415-550-8627
Anyone who has enjoyed the piri piri chicken at UMA CASA in Noe Valley can see how this is an awesome idea: chef-owner Telmo Faria is partnering with Khalid Mushasha (Lolinda, Black Cat) on PIRI PICA, a fast-casual spot focused on flame-grilled piri piri chicken.
It’s feisty chicken, with chile and garlic and citrus and herbs, that has its roots in Africa (supposedly Portuguese settlers brought the chile peppers to then-colonies Angola and Mozambique, where the sauce originates). You’ll be able to get it by the quarter, half, or whole bird, and you can also designate how spicy you want it. There will also be pork loin and shrimp, vegetarian options, Mediterranean-influenced side dishes, and spicy and garlic-herb sauces. Local beers and a Portuguese-influenced wine list will also be on offer. They’re opening in the former Frjtz Valencia Space—Craige Walters will be designing the 60-seat space (there will also be outdoor seating). Look for a springtime opening. 590 Valencia St. at 17th St.
The city shed some tears with the closure of HUXLEY last November, but now we know who’s moving in: PAPI’S, a Mexican restaurant and rotisserie from David Alexander, Craig Lipton, and Miriam Lipton, the team behind Papito Hayes, Matador, and Tender Wine Bar (which is just next door to Papi’s, and you can bring your food over there). Look for three large original works from artists Dario Canul and Cosijoesa Cernas of the Oaxaca collective Tlacolulokos (they also designed the logo).
The 30-seat Tenderloin restaurant will take some inspiration from Papito Hayes, but will have an extensive menu, offering much more than the usual taqueria suspects (and check out the tortas, featuring low-gluten pinsa rolls made by Montesacro), plus rotisserie. Beverages will include sangria, micheladas, craft beer, and low-alcohol versions of margaritas. It will open Monday March 5th for dinner and weekend brunch to start (nightly 5:30pm-11pm and Sat-Sun 11am-3pm), with lunch coming soon. 846 Geary St. at Larkin.
The chef behind the two locations of Iza Ramen and Blowfish Sushi (Ritsuo Tsuchida) has opened TAWARA SAKE DINING in the former Urban Fish in the Mission. The izakaya-inspired menu is meant to be a cozy space where Tsuchida can get a bit freestyle, re-creating dishes from his childhood. You can check the menu here, which includes a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes—there are also vegan and gluten-free options too (the legacy of the former tenant lives on!). And true to its name, there is plenty of sake. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 2193 Mission St. at 18th St.
Lower Haight’s WING WINGS has been up for sale for some time, and owner Christian Ciscle just announced he has sold the business, but here’s the good part: the folks taking over don’t just want the lease, they want to keep Wing Wings going. Sweet. The new owners are Eric and Tony Shou, an uncle and nephew with Haight Street roots (the Chronicle reports they were a part of Crescent City Cafe and Spaghetti Western in the ’90s). Ciscle is going to help get them up to speed and pass the torch over the next month—and it’s a bright one. Ciscle plays a huge part in the community and always gives back, from fundraisers to events to getting the word out. Thanks for all the support (and wings!) these past seven years. We’re going to miss your observations of the neighborhood—LHSF forever. 422 Haight St. at Webster.
Another switcheroo: GELATERIA NAIA has decided to close its North Beach shop after 12 years of business in order to focus on their Bar Gelato pint and bar business. But North Beach will continue to have a gelato shop in the location: they are handing their keys to LUSH GELATO, who have been making gelato for more than a decade (they have a location on Polk St. and two in the East Bay). Lush should open this week or next. 520 Columbus Ave. at Green.
Folks lucky enough to live or work near EL SUR in Potrero will be happy to know they have added breakfast hours (now open Mon-Fri 8am-2pm), plus two breakfast empanadas (the tartiflette, with bacon, caramelized onion, potato, five cheeses, and egg; and the verdura, with braised greens, onion, potato, goat cheese, and egg). Owner Marianne Despres has also brought on the wicked-talented pastry chef Shawn Gawle (Saison, Les Clos, Quince) to consult on and perfect the medialunas (it’s a smaller and slightly sweeter Argentine version of the croissant that has a touch of honey and orange blossom), plus he updated their dulce de leche-filled churro. Look for later hours into the evening, with wine and more, coming later this year. 300 DeHaro St. at 16th St.
Another quick note: the folks at HIGH TREASON have started serving lunch Fri-Sun, so you can come by for their fantastic wines and salads and sandwiches right now (menu here). They open at 12pm those days, FYI. 443 Clement St. at 6th Ave.
Both locations of THE EPICUREAN TRADER (Cow Hollow and Bernal Heights) are now carrying six Craftsman & Wolves pastries daily—like a smoked ham and Swiss croissant—and this is the first time they are carrying their pastries outside of their shop! Pastry time starts at 10am Mon-Fri and 9am on the weekends. They are also selling bagel sandwiches featuring Wise Sons bagels, shmears, smoked salmon, and trout salad (bagels, challah, and shmears are also available for retail sale for those who want to bring them home). And if you check the freezer case, you’ll find Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream (they are their exclusive retailer partner!). 401 Cortland Ave. at Bennington and 1909 Union St. at Laguna.
Off the Grid returns to Fort Mason Center this Friday March 2nd (5pm-10pm), and there’s something new: the VIP Tasting Ticket. You can access a line-free window for exclusive tastes from a rotating selection of trucks and tents. You can check them out and purchase in advance or in person at the information booth ($25 for 4 tastes).
This is such a bummer: after a successful crowdfunding campaign, MAKER’S COMMON is closing on Sunday March 4th. Owners Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron, and Eric Miller opened this expanded offshoot of their SF cheese shop, Mission Cheese, just seven months ago, but after numerous tweaks and adjustments and a lot of hard work, they have decided to close. Read this piece in Nosh for more (the comments certainly have a bunch of thoughts on the reasons as well). 1954 University Ave. at Milvia, Berkeley.
Another example of how hard it is to make it out there: LES ARCEAUX in Berkeley has also closed (after five months), although it’s not a total bust. Owners Alana O’Neal and Mikha Diaz are going to reformulate and reopen with a new concept, Idyllwhile. Nosh learned they are going to end morning service and focus on craft cocktails and small bites (like their original location in SF, Two Sisters), and the wine list will be more approachable. There also won’t be any table service—guests will order at the bar. Look for a reopening on Tuesday March 6th. Hours will be Tue-Sun 3pm-11pm, with happy hour 3pm-6pm (featuring $7 house wines, $4 draft beers, and a $5 weekly rotating cocktail). Here’s hoping the changes work—come by and support the ladies, y’all. 1849 Shattuck Ave. at Hearst.
One of the better bagels in the Bay Area, AUTHENTIC BAGEL COMPANY, may potentially close permanently (they are currently on hiatus). East Bay Express reports owner Jason Scott is just overwhelmed with running the entire business himself and is trying to find some investment and make some changes. Here’s hoping he figures things out and gets some help, because that would be a shame to lose ABC! 463 2nd St. at Broadway, Oakland.
You ready for some good news? Yeah, me too. After thoroughly enjoying a recent bowl of MARUFUKU RAMEN’s Hakata-style ramen in Japantown, I was followed on Instagram by their new Oakland account and was like, huh, what’s up guys! It took awhile for them to reply, but they are opening tomorrow (February 28th) at 4828 Telegraph Ave. (at 48th St.). Enjoy their tonkotsu and the chicken paitan! Hours are Wed-Fri 5:30pm-9:30pm, Sat 5pm-9:30pm, and Sun 5pm-9pm.
Also incredibly awesome: Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group has announced who is moving into the former Haven at Jack London Square, and it’s going to be Reem Assil of Reem’s California, a La Cocina grad (and recent James Beard Award semifinalist!), who is partnering with the group to open this fuller-scale restaurant. It’s going to be called DYAFA, which means hospitality in Arabic, and it will be an homage to how she grew up eating in her Palestinian-Syrian home. The shareable menu will include snacks and small plates such as mezze with her freshly baked bread from the hearth, along with larger presentations of braised meats, local seafood, and grains. Alta Group beverage director Aaron Paul will oversee the cocktails, wine, and beer. Look for an April opening, I’ll keep you posted. 44 Webster St. at Water, Oakland.
More lady power: Brandi and Janice Dulce of the FOB Kitchen pop-up in SF—known for their modern spin on Filipino dishes—will be taking over the former Juhu Beach Club space in Temescal. Eater mentions they plan to open in late spring—they’ll launch a cocktail menu, and brunch, dinner, and late-night dining. Former owners and couple Preeti Mistry and Ann Nadeau are thrilled with transferring the business to fellow queer females and people of color. 5179 Telegraph Ave. at 51st Ave., Oakland.
There’s an important fundraiser coming up on Friday March 9th: Stand with Refugees: A Benefit for 1951 Coffee Company. 1951 COFFEE COMPANY is known for their barista training program for refugees from a variety of nations, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Syria, and Uganda. Since opening one year ago (January 2017), they have trained more than 100 graduates, who have gone on to work for companies such as Blue Bottle, Starbucks, Dropbox, Mazarine, and 1951 Coffee’s café in Berkeley.
At the benefit, guests will welcome newly arrived refugees to the community with a night of food and drinks from Fieldwork Brewing and Russian River Valley vintners, food from Old Damascus Fare—a catering company founded by a Syrian refugee family—and a dessert bar by Third Culture and Firebrand Bakery. Tickets, ranging in price from $50-$100, are available here. 6:30pm. David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley.
Attention cheese lovers! Here’s your chance to enter to win tickets to the 12th annual Artisan Cheese Festival (March 23-25th) in Santa Rosa, and you have two chances to win! One winner will get a pair of tickets to The Best Bite Competition on Friday March 23rd (6pm to 9pm), featuring 20 cheesemakers, 20 chefs, and 20 mongers, plus regional wine, cider, and beer.
The second winner gets one pair of tickets to Cheese & Cocktails on Saturday March 24th (5pm to 7pm), pairing artisan cheese with cocktails created by local craft distilleries, and indulge in the Fantasy Cheese Table!
Two winners will be randomly chosen on Monday March 5th (at 10am, Cali time). Good luck! Events are selling out, so if you know you want to go, get your ticket now!
Is there a cooler and more hilarious sibling duo than Amy Sedaris and David Sedaris? No, there isn’t. They were spotted dining at KOKKARI, and I think my brain would have exploded seeing them. (I am already on the brink of giving myself a simultaneous hernia and brain aneurysm from laughing while watching At Home with Amy Sedaris.)