Weekly Dish: Pie and Mexican Together in Oakland
Nido Mexican and PieTisserie join forces in Jack London Square; the best martini in the East Bay; Walnut Creek Wine Walk tonight; Josh Thomsen leaves Claremont; more on B Restaurant's replacement; CPK trouble in Walnut Creek; and more in this week's Dish!
I guess when the weather heats up, things slow down: not a ton of dining news out there right now, but we've got a few tasty morsels for you...
Those living in Jack London Square may already be familiar with Nido community foods, which has been delivering made-from-scratch Mexican meals to local JLS residents since March. Well, the delivery service was always meant to be a trial run until chef/owner Silvia McCollow and her husband Cory could find a place to open a permanent restaurant and it looks like that has happened. McCollow has secured a location on the southern end of Jack London Square at Oak and Fourth streets where she hopes to start dishing out her local, sustainable, organic, fresh Mexican fare as soon as September. Not only that, but McCollow says that Jaynelle St. Jean, owner of the popular, heretofore nomadic PieTisserie, will have a permanent space in the new project where she can bake and sell her unique homemade pies, including flavors such as Okinawan sweet potato, kumquat custard, and banana chai cream (nice!). pietisserie.com
McCollow is actually a high school art teacher by trade, but was steeped in Mexican food and culture by her family growing up in downtown Los Angeles—not to mention frequent trips to Mexico, where her father owned farm land. "Those trips were always so memorable," she recalls. "I saw how there was this connection with food and family and my parents. And Nido, it means "nest" in Spanish, is my idea for a place that honors those memories—the farmers, the workers, my family—while becoming a part of the Jack London Square community." And it was on those South of the border trips that McCollow was exposed to authentic, healthy Mexican food made with fresh ingredients. "I remember going fishing with my dad and he caught a shrimp, ripped the head off, peeled it, and ate it on the spot," she laughs. "You didn't do that in L.A."
So McCollow decided to open her own restaurant, while first educating herself at kitchens using the fresh, local, sustainable model she wants to highlight in her own Mexican cooking. She picked some good spots—she's been interning at Chez Panisse, has caught on as sous chef at Dominica Rice's (herself a Chez Panisse-alum) popular new Cosecha Cafe in Old Oakland, as well as the now-shuttered B Restaurant nearby. Nido will have an emphasis on the Pacific coast region of Mexico so expect a lot of fresh seafood dishes such as whole wood-grilled fish and ceviche crudo, in addition to her popular tamales de pavo, made with slow braised Mary's Organic turkey. Follow Nido's progress at facebook.com/Nido510.
Speaking of B Restaurant, I still haven't been able to get the full scoop on what's replacing the Old Oakland eatery, but some details have begun trickling in. I swung by the other day and there's already construction happening and a sign on the window advertising a bar/caffe called "Borgo Italia Cucina Casalinga." Considering one of the partners in the project is A.G. Ferrari-owner Paul Ferrari, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's going to be an Italian joint. Rumor is, the other owners hail directly from the old country itself, including possibly a master baker, so the new place could be an open-all-day thing, not just a dinner spot. And according to Old Oakland's official website, Borgo is shooting for a late-summer opening.
Also according to that website, Umamimart will be opening a location in mid-summer, selling "high-quality kitchen and barware from Japan." A lot going on in Old Oakland these days...
Out and about in Walnut Creek tonight? Check out the city's Downtown Wine Walk happening this Wednesday, June 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. A mere $40 gets you a wine glass and pours at dozens of participating businesses, ranging from the obvious (Residual Sugar, where the event kicks off, and Prima), to the not so obvious (Harps Etc. and Clip Joynte Barber Shop). Live music too! CLICK HERE for all the details.
Some more Walnut Creek news...
Opa!, the Greek restaurant replacing Caffe delle Stelle on N. Main Street has flyers up on the windows promising a mid-June debut and looks like it should be opening any day now.
Cypress will be showing off its new "Le Parc" back patio by hosting a movie night every Friday. Check the restaurant for details. 1388 Locust Street Walnut Creek, (925) 891-4197, cypresswc.com.
And finally: OMG, CPK! The popular California Pizza Kitchen location in Walnut Creek was shut down last week after an outbreak of the norovirus sickened workers and nearly 20 customers. After reports of illness were traced back to the Broadway Plaza CPK, county health officials closed the restaurant on Thursday, June 14. It reopened two days later after a thorough cleaning, inspection, and re-training of employees on safe food handling techniques. Think I'll be making my own barbecue chicken pies for the foreseeable future...
For all you fans of Peasant & the Pear-owner Rodney Worth, you'll have to wait just a little bit longer to sample his first foray into Italian fare. Worth's Ferrari's, which will dish out antipasti, panini, salads, fresh pastas, and flatbreads as well as Californian and Italian wines, is slightly delayed and is now on pace to open by early July. Ferrari's is replacing Stomp Wine bar in Blackhawk Plaza.
The Claremont Hotel & Spa's executive chef Josh Thomsen is leaving the famed Berkeley resort and heading back to his roots in New Jersey, where he's accepted a gig as part-owner and chef at a new restaurant in Princeton. Thomsen will be missed: he brought in a lot of energy and enthusiasm since coming on board three years ago, leading the charge to open the Claremont's upscale, seasonal restaurant, Meritage, revamping and updating the menu at the more casual Paragon, as well as helping turn the Berkeley Wine Festival, hosted at the hotel, into a popular annual event.
"I'll miss the Claremont a lot, it's a special place filled with great people," Thomsen said. "But in the end, my girlfriend and I are from the East Coast, and this is an opportunity for us to be closer to family, and a chance to be a part owner in an exciting new restaurant."
No word yet on Thomsen's replacement. But if you're looking for one last hurrah, Thomsen is hosting a Whole Hog Dinner at Paragon on his second to last day on July 12, which he's pairing with beers from Napa Smith Brewery. Check out Paragon's Facebook page for details.
Some exciting news for the Diablo family as owner Steve Rivera's sons, Jared and Steve, have sold off their SF-based restaurant pr firm Rivera Public Relations to national firm Wagstaffe Worldwide. The brothers made the move in order to focus on their Chefs Feed smart phone application, which they're about to launch in seven more cities, including London, after debuting in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York last year. Chef's Feed offers personal dining tips from A-List chefs such Michael Mina, Mario Batali, and David Chang. CLICK HERE to read last year's story. chefsfeed.com.
Sake pairing dinner at Ozumo Thursday night. The Uptown restaurant's Sake & Soul event lets you sample a total of 40 junmai, ginjo and daiginjo sakes, followed by a selection of Japanese-style soul food for just $40. Thursday, June 21, 6-8 p.m, 2251 Broadway, Oakland, ozumooakland.com. Ozumo’s "SakeMama," Jessica Furui, is also hosting another sake pairing event next Tuesday, June 26, at the San Francisco location featuring unpasteurized summer sakes. 6-8 p.m.
Finally, a big congratulations to the winners in Monday's annual Best Martini in the East Bay contest at Lafayette Park Hotel. All proceeds go to benefit the Contra Costa County Library's Project Second Chance adult literacy program.
1st: American Oak’s “Sunburned Russian”
2nd: Salvatore Ristorante’s “Sal’s Lemonade”
3rd: Bistro at the Park’s “I Am Legend”
People’s Choice: Moresi's Chophouse's Cello Meringue