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Diablo Dish: The Highly Anticipated Salt Craft Opens March

The Original Mels sets up shop in Livermore; Shabuya serving up Japanese hot pots in The Veranda later this year; Garré Winery adds some serious steak to its menu; Lucia’s celebrates gluten-free Neapolitan pizza this week; and more Dish.


Eli Pitta

Salt Craft Set to Open Next Month

The long-awaited Salt Craft—a labor of love for chef-owner Matt Greco—will open in a few weeks on St. Mary Street in Pleasanton, assuming all goes well with inspections and the many other variables involved in restaurant openings.

Salt Craft will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the patio next to a renovated house-turned-kitchen. Greco will bake the bread and keep as much as he can in-house, while highlighting local ingredients, beer, and wine.

Greco is best known locally for his time at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, but he also made a name for himself in New York with Char No. 4. Now he’s putting all that experience to work at a much more family-friendly, neighborhood spot that has local foodies ready to line up for his first meals.


Mels Opening in Livermore March 5

David and Jack Nguyen will open their third The Original Mels franchise in the East Bay (the other two are in Concord and Antioch) on March 5 in Livermore. It’s taken a little longer than they had hoped, but that’s often the norm when getting a new place up and running.

Though nothing special is planned for the opening, fans of Mels’ ambiance will enjoy the usual American Graffiti atmosphere.


Shabuya Is Bringing Shabu-Shabu to The Veranda

Of course you already knew that shabu-shabu is a Japanese hot pot dish—named for the sound made when ingredients are dropped into the pot.

Shabuya—which has three locations in Southern California—has an all-you-can-eat concept, so you can keep dropping beef, pork, scallops, or shrimp (among other offerings) into the pot as long as your stomach stays relatively empty. There will also be a salad bar, but the only missing detail is exactly when Shabuya will open. Given the unexpected delays that often come with opening a new restaurant, the time frame right now is late summer to early fall, but we’ll keep you posted as the time draws nearer.


Livermore’s Garré Winery Expands Its Dinner Menu

A wine-tasting trip to Livermore should be on everyone’s spring agenda, but now there’s another dinner option, as Garré Winery introduced a steakhouse menu to their cafe. Pork chops, lamb chops, and steak (along with a variety of sauce options) are available, plus favorites such as Nonna’s gravy over pasta.

The lunch menu and extensive wine selection remain the same.


Mitchell Katz Winery

Livermore’s Barrel Tasting Weekend Is Just Around the Corner

There’s nothing like Barrel Tasting Weekend, when visitors to Livermore’s vineyards get to sample wines straight from the barrel—but it’s even more fun when you can go for free. To do that, however, you have to enter the Diablo Dish drawing or post five pictures of the hand-painted barrels on the Painted Barrel Trail on social media with the hashtag #LVPaintedBarrels. Get the trail map and details here, but don’t wait too long—Dish’s drawing will be March 5.

Normally tickets cost $45 ($55 the day of the event), but you get plenty of bang for those bucks. More than 30 wineries are participating, and brunch is an option this year as well. On Saturday, March 10, choose between brunch with Las Positas Vineyards and Zephyr Grill and Bar ($85), or Garré Winery and Garré Café ($70). On Sunday, March 11, the triple threat of Ehrenberg Cellars and The Singing Winemaker with Liberation Foods will deliver an $85 meal.


Gather Shakes Up Cocktails for Change

Where else but Berkeley would social issues combine with craft cocktails in the name of a good cause? Gather—on Oxford Street—is introducing four special libations that will benefit nonprofits and small, family-run farms in Northern California.

The $13 paid for The Resistance! (mezcal-based), The Lorax (cachaça), Camino Real (tequila), and Fault and Fractured (sherry) cocktails will all be donated, with the first round going to nonprofits that help with everything from immigration protection to workplace harassment prevention.

So be the change you want to see—while sipping a quality cocktail just a block from the Downtown Berkeley BART station.


George Maracineanu

Gluten-Free Pizza? Lucia’s Celebrates Its Success

Lucia’s in Berkeley will welcome world-champion pizzaiolo (that’s an elite pizza chef, if you couldn’t guess) Sara Palmieri to its Shattuck Avenue digs on Thursday, March 1, from 5 to 9:15 p.m. for the pizza joint’s first-annual Gluten-Free Neapolitan Pizza Day. Palmieri has celiac disease herself, so she was highly motivated to develop gluten-free recipes, and she and brother Ernesto—Lucia’s pizzaiolo—also offer vegan pizzas alongside the usual carnivore options.

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