Weekly Dish: Danville Hotel Restaurants Announced!
Delicious new eateries in Danville; tasty new menus; and openings galore.
Big news this week: The historic Danville Hotel project, a $25 million, 35,000-square-foot development of new construction and historic restoration, has just announced the three restaurants that will make Danville a more delicious town than ever when they open their doors in early 2016.
The story sounds a bit like the old nursery rhyme about the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker—but in this case, we’re talking about the brewer, the baker, and the pizza maker.
The brewer: Top billing goes to Danville Brewing Co. (DBC), a company so new it is still under warranty, as they say (the name was just chosen a few days ago!). DBC will occupy a 3,800-square-foot space of new construction across the street from Danville’s Museum of the San Ramon Valley on Railroad Avenue.
Bridges Restaurant managing general partner, Randy Negi, is teaming up with Alamo-resident Marcus Maita and his wife, Sara, to open a brewery restaurant that, if you ask me, has the words “great gathering place” written all over it.
With years of experience running Bridges—and Onomaze restaurant in Walnut Creek before that—Negi will ably handle the food: He plans to focus on gourmet burgers made with house-ground meat, crispy hand-cut fries, and an extensive salad menu tapping ingredients from local farms. Negi also plans to churn out piping hot, house-baked breads and rolls, including some drool-worthy pretzel buns, a brioche bun, and several gluten-free offerings.
Negi’s just a bit busy, right? That’s not the half of it: Negi will continue his successful partnership with the team that owns The Vine wine shop on Hartz Avenue, Bridges—one of Danville’s premier restaurants—and four breakfast and lunch cafés in San Francisco’s Fi-Di called Café Venue.
As for the beer piece at DBC, Maita and Negi have brought on brewmaster Craig Cauwels, who has brewed at E.J. Phair, Black Diamond, and Schooners breweries, as well as Shawn Burns, a graduate of the esteemed UC Davis Master Brewers program. Maita also hails from a suds-worthy family that ran a beer distribution company for generations.
Beer will be fermented on site in a shiny new ten-barrel brewing system that will be easily viewed behind a glass wall in the brewery restaurant. Six-to-eight house beers will be made on site including a coffee stout, an IPA, a lager, a porter, a wheat beer and possibly barrel-aged sours. Danville Brewing Co. will also feature a handful of guest beers to round out their 20-tap bar. Growler fills will be available and a full liquor license is planned. No website yet. Stay tuned to Dish for more details.
The baker: For delectable morsels of baked goods, pastries, elegant cakes, and hearty breads, Danville residents will soon be clambering over to Basque Boulangerie Café, a 1,600-square-foot bakery that will be in the historic Danville Hotel location. (Yes, the red building where Sideboard first opened on Hartz.)
Danville will be the second location of this business that began 20 years ago and is now a much-loved bakery café on the plaza in Sonoma. San Ramon resident and owner Harleen Bajwa is thrilled to open a location closer to home.
“We love Sonoma, but it has been my dream to open something in Danville. I think people there will really appreciate what we have to offer,” Bajwa says. In addition to its solid line-up of baked goods, breads and cakes, the café will also serve sandwiches, soups, and salads. Basque Boulangerie sells to Whole Foods in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, San Ramon, and the new Dublin location.
While their French-style breads are the, uh, bread and butter of the company, Basque Boulangerie is perhaps best known for its beehive cake filled with custard that was made famous on the Rachael Ray Show.
The pizza maker: The third restaurant announced for the historic Danville Hotel is none other than (drumroll, please) a new Pizza Antica that will go into the corner space at Railroad and Prospect Avenues.
If you’re a fan of Pizza Antica (locations in Lafayette, Mill Valley, San Jose, and Santa Monica) you already know this is seriously delicious food, friends. We’re talking blistered crust pizzas and fresh, inspired takes on family-friendly new Italian food. I credit the restaurant and executive chef Mark Sullivan as nothing less than trendsetters.
Several years ago, having lunch at Pizza Antica Lafayette with founding partner Tim Stannard of Bacchus Management Group, I tasted the first of many, many Brussels sprouts salads that I have seen pop up on menus across the Bay Area and beyond. In the Danville location, Pizza Antica will feature a larger bar (they certainly know their clientele!), among other changes. More details forthcoming.
More Late-Breaking News
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards has just announced its new chef: Mike Ward, who was the executive chef at Tyler Florence’s El Paseo in Mill Valley. Ward has worked with a slew of top chefs across the country, including Tony Maws at Craigie Street Bistro in Boston and Frank McClelland of the New France Corporation. He's also worked at a number of the top restaurants in New York City, including the Michelin-starred restaurant, Picholine.
In Walnut Creek: Finalmente! Walnut Creek has long awaited the opening of Parada Kitchen , a Peruvian restaurant by acclaimed, Michelin-star-winning chef Carlos Altamirano. Looks like Parada is slated to open on June 25. That’s next Thursday!
In Moraga: After dropping my daughter at Campo (that’s Campolindo High School) the other evening, I stopped by Graze, the restaurant taking over the former Shish Kebob Show location in the Rheem Valley shopping center in Moraga. Holy quinoa salad! Graze is open!
For now, the small eatery is just serving lunch from Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the menu looks superb: a superfood salad with quinoa, edamame, spiced pecans, and a champagne vinaigrette; and the Aloha noodle salad, with chopped veggie slaw and soba noodles, to name a couple items. More traditional items include a chicken club, a fish sandwich, and Zinfandel-braised a beef shortribs served with rigatoni.
According to a sign in the window, dinner and expanded hours are coming in July. This looks like good eating. I can’t wait to ask my daughter when she needs a ride to Campo again!
In Oakland: The last few weeks have seen a long list of news-worthy openings in Oaktown, including the vegetarian fave Millennium in Rockridge (in the former Box and Bells space); Chowhaus on Medau Place in Montclair; and Duvin, a bar/restaurant that opened a couple of weeks ago on Thornhill in Montclair. Thanks for the tips, Berkeleyside.
Coming Soon to Berkeley
The hits keep coming. The Advocate, a new restaurant from John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman, owners of Berkeley’s Comal restaurant, is slated to open on Ashby Avenue in Elmwood as soon as July.
The Advocate will feature Mediterranean cuisine, including dishes from Morocco and North Africa. Executive chef John Griffiths will preside. When I spoke to Paluska recently, after many delays, he wasn’t venturing an opening date, but we have a report that The Advocate will open in about a month. Read more about it on Berkeleyside here.
New and Noteworthy
In Oakland: For fans of Italian food, the restaurant Dopo (which means “after” in Italian) has long been a mainstay of fresh pasta and pizza on Piedmont Avenue. Recently, the restaurant rebranded as Palmento a Dopo (a palmento is a place in Italy where grapes are pressed or wheat is milled), and transformed the menu into a strictly Sicilian affair.
What does authentic Sicilian cuisine look like? Dishes such as ricotta salata (firm, dried ricotta), arancini (risotto balls), fresh pasta with pork ragú, polpette (meatballs), and spicy braised meats with raisins are just a few of the items on the menu. Most interesting are the hot and cold antipasti dishes that offer a dizzying selection of small bites of grilled fish, stuffed figs, and other deliciousness.
Palmento a Dopo is one of the restaurants that recently changed its service policy, so you don’t even need to figure the tip at the end of a meal. All prices are inclusive. And the food is so authentic you can skip the plane fare, too.
June 17: Tonight, don’t miss the annual Walnut Creek Wine Walk from 6 to 9 p.m.! This self-paced event always brings out the crowds for tastes of some of the best-fermented grape juice around. Prizes, drawings, and fun conversation guaranteed.
June 30: Postino Restaurant in Lafayette invites you for a winemaker dinner featuring Pine Ridge Vineyard wines, one of Napa’s premium producers of handcrafter Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Bordeaux blend wines. I’ve loved this Stag’s Leap District winery since I wrote scripts and produced a video series for them years ago.
Family Night at The Cooperage
Wednesdays will no longer be called “hump day” in Lafayette. At least, not if chef Erik Hopfinger at The Cooperage has anything to do with it. Since he launched Wednesday Family Style Night, the dining crowds have been as thick as the crunchy, crispy breading on Hopfinger’s delicious fried chicken. And this dinner, folks, just might be the deal of the century: Dinner for two-to-four people includes eight pieces of southern-style fried chicken, heaping bowls of cole slaw and fluffy mashed potatoes, and four house-made chive-and-bacon mini biscuits. The price tag? Only $25 for the entire gang.
I was over at The Cooperage recently to check it out when I recognized owner Andrew McCormick having dinner with his dad, Bill McCormick, the man who opened no less than 96 restaurants for the McCormick and Schmick brand, among others. A true family affair in Lafayette. Reservations are a must.
Salmon Season is Here
From Point Arena in Mendocino to Pigeon Point south of San Francisco, the commercial salmon fishing season has started, and will run intermittently until the middle of October. For the best of the catch, June is the heart of the season: Now is a perfect time to track down fresh, local, wild salmon. One of my favorite places to go is Yankee Pier in Lafayette. Chef Michael Dunn has put together a succulent menu that celebrates the season with offerings such as a griddled salmon cake with roasted corn relish, and grilled king salmon filet with corn pudding and cherry tomato salsa. Check it out!
Finally, I’d like to make a little announcement about a closing of my own. After almost a year of writing Dish, I’m filing my final news report today. I’d like to have more time to write articles for Diablo's print magazine and with other work commitments (a book underway and more) I’m sad to say that Dish just, uh, eats up too much of my time.
It’s a bittersweet decision, as I’ve loved bringing you news every week about our truly transformative East Bay dining scene. We are becoming a dining destination to rival any. My creamy, crunchy thanks go out to all you Dish readers, especially those who have provided tips and comments while encouraging me to make my deadline each week. Thank you. See you on the flip side.