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Diablo Dish — April '09

Eddie Papa's expands to Livermore, The Cheesecake Factory finally opens in Walnut Creek, and more in Diablo Dish.


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Pleasanton’s Eddie Papa’s American Hangout celebrates its one-year anniversary with an expansion to Movida’s old space in Livermore. Owner Ed Westmoreland says the new Eddie Papa’s, to open this spring, will serve the wallet-friendly regional American cuisine and artisan cocktails that draw crowds to his Hopyard spot. Another Pleasanton eatery comes to Livermore this spring when Mike Gutierrez, owner of Emilio’s El Portal Mexican Restaurant, opens Emilio’s El Portal Mexican Restaurant II in the new Kitty Hawk Plaza, across from Las Positas College. The new café’s quick-order fare comes off Emilio’s menu but will cost about 20 percent less.

Walnut Creek finally got its long-awaited Cheesecake Factory. The popular chain, which moved into Andronico’s old space in Plaza Escuela, gave new meaning to “grand opening,” with plenty of media coverage, its own Facebook page, even a separate hiring center in the Broadway Plaza Promenade.

Take advantage of a few mood-lifting recession-era meal deals. Prix fixe menus are popping up everywhere, such as Danville’s Bridges and Amber Bistro, and Pleasanton’s Blue Agave Club offering three-course meals for $20–$30. Danville’s Basil Leaf Café has complimentary champagne and mimosas with Sunday brunch. Looking for something a little more jeans-and-T-shirty? Try Hopyard’s Beer Drinker Bailout Hour, when the San Ramon and Pleasanton brewpubs knock $1.50 off all beers.

A new small plates restaurant, Vinoteca, was due to open in Danville last month. Managing partner H. Gordon Clarke, who also owns Tower Grille, says Vinoteca’s Spanish- and Italian-themed dishes, such as shrimp fritters, fried brussels sprouts, and grilled quail, go down in price the more you buy.

San Ramon’s lunchtime café Thyme to Eat now serves dinner, offering nightly specials not found on the lunch menu, such as meatloaf and enchiladas.

The Hershey Company will close its Berkeley-based Scharffen Berger chocolate factory as well as the Joseph Schmidt factory in San Francisco this year. Meanwhile, family-owned Sconza Candy, which you’ve likely been munching on under other names, moved from Oakland into the enormous 500,000-square-foot Oakdale plant vacated by Hershey’s. San Ramon’s Ron Sconza, VP of operations and grandson of Sconza’s founder, says it will start factory tours next year. Sure, there’ll be free samples.

Booming Oakland adds more to its growing tally: Downtown got Café 15, where locals can get “real food served inexpensively and quickly” in bio-compostable to-go containers. Chef Arash Ghasemi, formerly sous chef at Eccolo, creates spicy pulled-pork sandwiches with salsa verde and organic apple, and Point Reyes blue cheese salads for a growing lunchtime crowd. Meanwhile, to increasingly vibrant Uptown comes Ave, a chic restaurant and bar with an eclectic New-American menu celebrating a mixture of cultures.

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.

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