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First Bite: The Wolf Has New Clothes

Oakland’s historic Bay Wolf restaurant comes alive again.


Nicholas Boer

Good news, East Bay foodies: Bay Wolf is back—kind of.

In case you hadn’t heard, Oakland’s Bay Wolf restaurant, a California-cuisine pioneer on par with Chez Panisse, closed its doors in 2015 after an amazing 40-year run. But last month, after a much-needed top-to-bottom renovation, the historic craftsman home reopened as The Wolf.

New owners Rich and Rebekah Wood, the couple behind Oakland’s Wood Tavern and Southie, are running the eatery along with chef Yang Peng and general manager David Johnson, and their reimagined restaurant concept looks good-to-go for another decade—or four.

My first bite at The Wolf took me back. Bay Wolf was famous for its duck dishes, and Peng’s duck liver pâté—slathered on rustic toast and sprinkled with tongue-tingling pink peppercorns—put me in a receptive mood. It’s a dish that well embodies the brasserie-style menu. Split escargot, which looked and tasted like sautéed mushrooms, were topped with garlicky parsley butter and draped over tender braised osso buco. A vegetable risotto featured roasted heirloom carrots, and florets of cauliflower came bathed in fondue.

Located right next to Commis, the East Bay’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, The Wolf’s décor is classy and modern, yet warm and soulful. I’m already planning two more visits—I’ll be wolfing down duck banh mi for lunch and roasted duck breast for dinner.

3853 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, (510) 879-7953, thewolfoakland.com. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily.

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