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Diablo Dish—August 2010

Some restaurants are opening, some are closing, but Diablo has the hottest Dish to keep you current!


Plenty of San Francisco restaurateurs have dipped their toes into East Bay waters, but this time, the Croc is on the other foot. À Côté owner Jack Knowles is not only opening up two new Oakland eateries but has major plans in San Francisco’s mission district. The owner of the überpopular Rockridge restaurant announced his intention to take over the next-door space vacated by Citron earlier this year. It will likely offer a more casual, bar-centric concept. He has also received planning approval on À Côté’s long-delayed sister restaurant in the Glenview neighborhood, set to open by the end of the year.

Across the Bay, Knowles purchased the now-defunct New College campus on Valencia Street, where he’s planning as many as five restaurant/nightlife projects.The centerpiece will be a new restaurant and music hall devoted to New Orleans–style cuisine and jazz. The restaurant, set in the campus’ old chapel, will be called Chapel. And for the music half of the project, Knowles has partnered with the owner of The Big Easy’s famed Preservation Hall jazz club to create Preservation Hall West, set to open in late 2011.

Elsewhere in the 510, two big-time chefs have signed on to promising foodie projects: Jeremy Fox, formerly of Napa’s critically acclaimed Ubuntu restaurant, has come in as executive chef at Daniel Patterson’s Plum, set for a late-summer opening in Oakland’s Uptown; and former food writer Robert Lauriston’s new fresh pasta and wood-fired pizza place, Locanda da Eva in Berkeley, has brought in Huw Thornton, former chef at San Francisco favorites A16 and SPQR.

Also in Oakland, Hi-Suk Dong closed Soizic Bistro after 15 years in Jack London Square but opened Nex, serving French comfort food, next door to his Uptown eatery, Mua. Dong hopes to reopen Soizic with a new name and concept by Christmas.

On Livermore’s First Street, Laura Miller will serve up daily specials such as meatball sandwiches, lasagna, and house-made ravioli, along with fresh-baked Italian pastries, at her Maggio’s Italian Deli & Bakery (scheduled to open in mid-July). Miller should know what she’s doing: She comes from a long line of Sicilian chefs and started working at an Italian bakery in her native Chicago when she was just eight years old.

Set to open around the same time on Contra Costa Boulevard in Concord is Bravo Bistro, a restaurant/lounge offering fine California-Italian cuisine from Fiore owner Habib el Jacifi (his younger brother Youssef is the chef).

Old Town Pittsburg’s mini resurgence continues with the opening of European-style bakery/deli, Old Town Pastry and Deli, from Nicolas Maamari. The La Veranda owner also added The Pirate’s Cove, a frozen yogurt store, next door. This on the heels of Restaurant 615’s debut last year and the recent opening of E. J. Phair Brewing Company’s second restaurant in the supposedly haunted Liberty Hotel building on E. Third Street (plus a new brewery across the street this fall).

Beauty Lounge, where you can get a glass of beer or wine along with your haircut or mani-pedi, held its grand opening last month in Palos Verdes Mall in Walnut Creek. Owners Mark and Noemi Woods hope to offer appetizers by the end of the year. And Redux Lounge, which replaced the shuttered Spin Ultra Lounge on Locust Street last month, serves thin-crust pizzas, fresh oysters, and charcuterie along with its menu of handcrafted gourmet cocktails (fresh-squeezed juices, of course).

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


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