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Diablo Dish: August

Catch up on the latest East Bay food news!


Bittersweet / Photo by Jerre F. Yelp.com

There are big changes in dining at the Lafayette Park Hotel. The 27-year-old Duck Club Restaurant and Bistro at the Park bar are morphing into The Park Bistro and Bar. The old-school Duck Club will sport a new look—a contemporary twist on a European country farmhouse theme—designed to make it more casual and approachable. Several favorite dishes remain, but new executive chef Adam Carpenter is putting an emphasis on steaks, shared plates, and seasonal specials. The bar, meanwhile, will still retain a separate, bar-centric menu to go with a revamped interior and an outdoor patio with more seating, and two new fire pits. The transition is scheduled to be done by late July.

In Walnut Creek ... Taking over kitchen duties at Havana is Mark Mayo, lauded for the Sacramento farm-to-table eatery Mulvaney’s B&L. Down the street, Rick Delamain stepped down as executive chef and partner at Cypress to spend more time with his family. Vanessa’s Bistro 2 completed its relocation and is open for business at 1512 Locust Street, where it replaced Bosphorus. Finally, Corner Bakery Café, the fast, casual concept with new locations in Pleasanton and Pleasant Hill, is eyeing the long-vacant Marie Callender’s space.  

Several sweets-focused shops are looking to expand in the East Bay. Smitten, the popular S.F. spot that freezes fresh ice cream in 60 seconds using liquid nitrogen, is considering a location in Rockridge. Oakland’s Bittersweet opened a third café in downtown Berkeley, replacing New Amsterdam Coffeeshop. Barlovento Chocolates and Sketch ice cream are both mulling expansion plans: Barlovento in Walnut Creek, and Sketch in Oakland. And in Pleasanton, Tara’s Organic Ice Cream debuted at 349 Main Street, while French native Claude Denys is planning The Corner Creperie next door. In addition to traditional crepes, Denys will offer waffle pops: mini waffles on a stick that can be dipped in chocolate. Yum!

In Old Oakland, Borgo Italia is changing hands after less than a year in business. Replacing the regional Italian restaurant is another Italian concept, this one from Donato Scotti, chef-owner of Donato Enoteca in Redwood City. At his upcoming Desco, the Italy native plans a menu of seasonally fresh, ingredient-driven cuisine, including fresh pasta and pizza from the existing wood-fired oven. Look for an opening in early August. Also in Oakland, Chow restaurants, with locations in San Francisco, Danville, and Lafayette, is eyeing Piedmont Avenue. Details are thin, but the plan would be to debut a space similar to Lafayette’s (with a restaurant and market) by next summer. And finally, the owners behind downtown Berkeley’s popular Mexican eatery Comal are looking to open a Northern California–style restaurant in the Elmwood district. They’d still need to obtain an exemption from the city to the neighborhood’s strict restaurant quota system, so any opening is likely a year away.

Also next year, Michelin-starred San Francisco chef Carlos Altamirano is bringing his brand of modern Peruvian fare to Avalon Walnut Creek. Altamirano runs three Bay Area restaurants, but achieved his highest critical acclaim since opening La Costanera, his more formal restaurant just north of Half Moon Bay. His Walnut Creek restaurant, however, will be a more casual affair, closer in spirit to Altamirano’s Mochica, which specializes in elevated-but-affordable Peruvian specialties for dine-in and takeout. The new restaurant, yet to be named, gives cred to Avalon, the mixed-use retail and housing development adjacent to the Pleasant Hill BART station.

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