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Diablo Dish: April

An artisanal food market is coming to Oakland’s Jack London Square, and new vodkas and rums from local distillers.


Canasta Kitchen / Yelp.com

Oakland’s Jack London Square will soon have more food-loving company, with the addition of Water Street Market, a huge artisanal marketplace. Ellis Partners, DivcoWest, and Carlin Company’s Steve Carlin—who was involved with both Napa’s Oxbow Public Market and San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace—have announced they will build out the existing 32,000-square-foot space (about half the size of Ferry Building Marketplace) at 55 Harrison Street. No word yet on the participating food companies, but expect a fall 2016 opening date.  

In Pleasanton, another large food-focused project has been announced. Pacific Pearl, a shopping center with a Marina Food Grocery Store and a dozen Asian-style restaurants, will be built near the San Francisco Premium Outlets in Livermore. A partial opening is roughly scheduled for spring 2017, with the main shops and restaurants to come later that year.

Coming soon to Danville is Locanda Ravello, an Italian restaurant named for the charming hilltop town above Italy’s Amalfi Coast. It will move into the former Father Nature’s space on East Prospect Avenue. Chef/owner Enzo Rosano runs Locanda Positano in San Carlos with his brother and mother.

Last month saw two restaurants open their doors: Happy Valley Restaurant began serving Chinese food in Lafayette, and the former Methany’s reopened as Blackhawk Burgers in Danville’s Blackhawk Plaza.

Russell Moore of Camino restaurant was named a semifinalist in the James Beard Best Chef: West category for 2015. The awards ceremony is held in May.

In February, Livermore’s Sutherland Distilling Company released two new Diablo Shadow barrel-aged rums, and Alameda’s St. George Spirits put out three new aromatic vodkas. Both distilleries offer tastings by appointment. Berkeley welcomed Tupper and Reed, a swanky, old-timey cocktail bar complete with vintage gramophones, and Fieldwork Brewing Company, which focuses on “exceptional, honest beermaking.” Also, previously wine-centric Gianni’s Italian Bistro in San Ramon now serves cocktails, and A16 Rockridge announced new “aperitivo hours,” when cocktails and complimentary bar snacks are served.

Through May, downtown Walnut Creek is the place to be for the monthly Walnut Creek First Wednesdays, when live music, art exhibits, and a rotating lineup of food trucks take over Cypress Street, between North Main and Locust Street. Look for food truck offerings from the likes of Canasta Kitchen, Ceviche and Co., Yummi BBQ, and more.

And the fun continues: Look for new spring culinary classes from a number of East Bay companies, including Amphora Lafayette, Oliveto Commons at Oliveto Restaurant and Café, Epicurean Exchange in Orinda, Back to the Table Cooking School in Lafayette, and Farmcurious in Oakland. And Wente Vineyards has launched wine appreciation classes with sommelier Jorge Tinoco.

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