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Weekly Dish: Dungeness Time

Get your crab on at East Bay restaurants; Gianni's Italian Bistro set to open in San Ramon; A90 pizzeria heads for Berkeley; Buffalo Wild Wings opens with swag bags; a meatball pop-up in Oakland; and more in this week's Dish!


All right, one of the wonderful times of Bay Area food calendar is upon us: the start of the Dungeness crab season (or as I called it when I first moved to the Bay Area, Dungeneese, always thought that had a nice ring to it...) The season just opened a couple weeks ago, and while a lot of restaurants have yet to incorporate it onto their menus, quite a few of them have. So if you're itching for a taste of local crab, here's a list of East Bay eateries with Dungeness on the menu, from Dungeness crab rolls at Yankee Pier to steamed, cracked crab at Walnut Creek Yacht Club to wood fire-grilled half-crab at Camino. CLICK HERE to check out the whole list. And enjoy! (**a small disclaimer: this is not a comprehensive list, but just the restaurants I could get a hold of, so please comment below if there are any I'm missing).

Speaking of crab, there's a sign on the door at the former La Rose Bistro (which recently moved to downtown Concord under the name of Le Sen Bistro) at 2037 Shattuck Ave stating that a restaurant called "Crab Yard" would be taking over that space. I'd imagine they'll serve Dungeness as well...

Per Berkeleyside, via the Chronicle, the concept replacing the Shattuck Down Low in downtown Berkeley has been revealed: it's going to be a Roman-style pizza place called A90 (motorway encircling Rome and also the time it'll take to cook one of the super thin-crust pizzas). Per the Chron, the chef will be Brian Langevin, a pizzaiolo trained by Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco's cult hit pizzeria in North Beach. Gemignani, by the way, just opened another restaurant, the Prohibition-era Chicago--themed Capo's, also in North Beach. I had a chance to attend a media dinner at Tony's a year or so ago and can't recommend it enough—really fun, creative (and tasty) pizzas with top-line, often local ingredients (plus, it's a good excuse to visit SF's ever-charming North Beach neighborhood.) Expect a spring opening for A90.

Just round the corner, meanwhile, the new ravioli-centric Belli Osteria is now open for lunch. I also checked in with East Bay-native Nicholas Eftimiou, who told me Pathos, his sit-down organic Greek restaurant planned for 2430 Shattuck Avenue is on track to open in February.

Good news for Italian food lovers. Gianni's Italian Bistro is holding its grand opening this Tuesday, December 4. I wrote about this before: Diablo favorite Gianni Bartoletti is returning to the San Ramon location where he first helped launch Incontro Ristorante (he split from that restaurant recently after it moved to downtown Danville). It'll be "seasonally changing menu of regional Italian dishes with a creative, contemporary twist." It's a bit of a funny location nestled amid fast food joints in San Ramon, but Bartoletti made it work last time and I wouldn't bet against him this time. To start, they'll be open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. 2065 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, (925) 820‐6969, GiannisSanRamon.com.

Also, set to open today (Wednesday) in San Ramon is Buffalo Wild Wings, the wing and sports-centric chain that's launching its newest East Bay location in the San Ramon Marketplace near Firehouse No. 37. In what is becoming a trend, the first 100 guests through the door will receive a Buffalo Wild Wings swag bag full of goodies and coupons—Chick fil-A recently offered a free lunch once per week for a year to the first 100 customers at its new Walnut Creek location, and Freebirds World Burritos will offer free burritos for a year to the first 25 customers at their upcoming Walnut Creek store set to open on December 17 at 1512 Geary Street. Builds buzz I guess...

Some 925 news...

Ex-Caffe delle Stelle owner Hugo Boye's Stelle Bistro is not open just yet. Boye told me he's still waiting for his liquor license, but is hoping to open his doors any day now in the former Chili's space in downtown Walnut Creek.

Per Patch, Alamo's Ace Hardware recently debuted The Kitchen a new 1,600 square-foot “store within a store," where you can find top-of-the-line cookware, table linens, kitchen gadgets, etc from suppliers like Bodum, USA Pans, Le Creuset, Lodge and Swiss Diamond. It's located in the south end of the store on Danville Boulevard.

Flame Broiler sounds a lot like something Burger King would cook up, but it's not. The growing chain, which just held the grand opening for its new location in Danville near the Town & Country shopping center, bills itself as a healthier fast food option. The menu consists primarily of Korean-style rice bowls with veggies and marinated meats—no dairy, trans-fat, frying and skin.

Milano Joe's Cucina Italiana closed in Livermore, no word yet on a replacement, and Cupid's Tooth candy store in Pleasanton shut down—but rumor is it could be opening again soon under new ownership.

Speaking of closings, Zatis, a Mediterranean restaurant on Oakland's Piedmont Avenue will be closing its doors after 22 years in business. Owner Zati Uysal said he has sold the business and the restaurant's last day would be December 31. "Twenty-two years is enough for any business," he said. "I enjoyed it, but its time for us to move on to another area. We've had our share of it—let the young folks take over." Replacing Zatis on Piedmont, according to ABC liquor license records, is Homestead, a restaurant from ex Waterfront and Farallon chef Fred Sassen and his wife Elizabeth. Haven't been able to get in touch with those two yet, but will keep you posted when I do.

OK, food happenings this week...

Very cool event at 2012 Diablo Best New Restaurant-winner Hopscotch this coming Monday. Chef-owner Kyle Itani is joining his former bosses Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, owners of New York City's popular Meatball Shop, in hosting a one-night-only Meatball Shop Pop-Up. Holzman (also the former chef at renowned SF Italian eatery SPQR) will be bringing the same menu of meatballs, heroes, sides, and cookies starting at 5 p.m. and lasting until midnight (or until the last meatball is eaten). First come, first serve. Should be fun... 1915 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, (510) 788-6217, hopscotchoakland.com.

Celebrate peerless local artisan distiller St. George's Spirits' 30-year-anniversary (had no idea they were that old!) with a Commonwealth Club event held at their Alameda headquarters overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Per the Commonwealth Club: "Three revolutionary generations of St. George Master Distillers (including founder, Jorg Rupf and master distiller, Lance Winters) are coming together for an in-depth discussion on the distilling industry and the craft spirits renaissance that they originated." Guests will also get an exclusive grand tour of the distillery, three unique "decade-inspired" cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and access to the after party. Sounds pretty rad... Go to stgeorge30th.eventbrite.com/ for event details and to buy tickets ($60 for members, $75 for non-members). Starts at 7.

Danville's Rakestraw Books is hosting some great food-related book events coming up, starting this Saturday when they'll be organizing a dinner with Chef Hubert Keller. To celebrate the famed SF chef's new book, Souvenirs: Stories and Recipes from My Life, Rakestraw is holding a grand gala that will include dinner with Keller and a signed copy of the new book. It's $120 for dinner for two and one signed book and you have to buy tickets at the store. The event starts at 5 p.m., location to be announced.

Couple of other cool food-related Rakestraw events coming up: Chef Tyler Florence will discus and sign copies of his latest cookbook, Tyler Florence Fresh, on Thursday, December 13  at 7 p.m. and Bay Area chef and cooking teacher Joanne Weir celebrates her new Cooking Confidence: Dinner Made Simple, with lunch on Friday, December 14. Very cool, call the store for more details. 522 Hartz Avenue, Danville, (925) 837-7337, rakestrawbooks.com

Picán is celebrating Reveillon (a traditional New Orleans Creole Christmas celebration), with a set four-course menu through the month of December. $58 lets you fill up with Braised Beef Brisket Daube Glace, Absinthe Parsnip Veloute, Smoked & Molasses Glazed Lamb Shoulder or  "Grits & Grillades" Smother Pork Tenderloin, and Whiskey & Orange Pain Perdu for dessert. $75 gets you wine pairings. CLICK HERE for the menu and call (510) 834-1000 to reserve a table. 2295 Broadway, Oakland, (510) 834-1000, picanrestaurant.com.

All through December, the Hotel Shattuck Plaza will donate $1 of every room rate to the American Red Cross and $10 per holiday package— the "Stay Here, Shop There" package gets you late checkout, overnight parking, 2 BART passes to and from San Francisco, a choice of one "12 Cocktails of Christmas" drinks. Call or go to the website for more info. 2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, (510) 845-7300, hotelshattuckplaza.com.

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Dungeness Crab in East Bay restaurants

Artisan Bistro, Lafayette
Crab appetizer tossed with diced fennel, celery olive oil, and salt, placed in ring with granny smith apple vinaigrette and served with a frisée, pepper cress, radish, and celery salad. $19

Amber Bistro, Danville
Dungeness crab cakes: $15

Bocanova, Oakland
Deviled egg with chipotle aioli topped with fresh Dungeness crab: $9 (also look for Dungeness specials available through the month of December)

Boot & Shoe Service, Oakland
Dungeness crab and avocado toast with watercress and marsh pepper: $12

Camino, Oakland
Camino is incorporating wood-grilled Dungeness (half) with grilled cauliflower, beets and farroonto onto its Monday three-course prix fixe menu for $34.

Chez Panisse Cafe, Berkeley **Note, the menu changes daily: this dish was available on Monday and may not be served now
Dungeness crab and celery salad with anise hyssop: $13

Chevalier, Lafayette
Dungeness crab salad with avocado and mango-ginger dressing: $18

Comal, Berkeley
Fresh picked Dungeness crab with avocado, endive, and mandarins: $16

Cypress, Walnut Creek
Crab Duncan: Dungeness crab sautéed in garlic chili white wine sauce and served atop garlic lemon noodles: $25

Dead Fish, Crockett
Dungeness crab cakes with aioli & Japanese cucumber: $13.95
Whole Dungeness crab roasted in "secret garlic sauce": $35.95

Hopscotch, Oakland
Smoked soba noodles with Dungeness crab, garlic, and chives with hot crab dashi poured over it: $12.

Marica, Oakland
Dungeness Crab cake with honey mustard aioli and mixed greens: $12

Metro Lafayette
Dungeness crab cakes with celery root remoulade and piquillo pepper aioli: $14.50.
Dungeness crab salad sandwich (lunch only): $14.25.

NM Café, Walnut Creek
Seafood Louie salad with Dungeness crab, shrimp, little gem lettuce, egg, avocado, tomato, cucumber, and louie dressing: $26

Scott's Seafood, Oakland and Walnut Creek
Steamed and chilled half or whole crab with drawn butter: $14, $26
Dungeness crab sandwich with avocado, shiitake mushrooms, shallots, and jack cheese on grilled sourdough
Dungeness crab and seafood cioppino
Dungeness crab-encrusted swordfish with lemon butter sauce and garlic mashed potatoes

Skates on the Bay, Berkeley
Whole steamed Dungeness crab with parmesan risotto, drawn butter, and arugula salad: $49.95.
Baked lobster and Dungeness crab gnocchi, with wild mushrooms, tarragon, sherry cream sauce and a parmesan crust: $31.95.
Steamed Dungeness legs with claws with draw butter: $19.95
Dungeness crab cocktail legs and claw with cocktail sauce: $17.95

Spenger's, Berkeley
Whole Dungeness crab with garlic-lemon aioli: $38.95
half Dungeness crab with drawn butter: $14.95
Dungeness crab Louie salad: $24.95

Trattoria La Siciliana, Berkeley
Fresh arugula with cherry tomatoes, lemon-vinaigrette, ricotta salata and fresh Dungeness crab: $12
Whole cracked crab with wine, butter, and Sicilian sea salt: $29
Seafood stew with Dungeness crab, mussels, shrimp, and calamari: $32

Uncle Yu's, Lafayette, Livermore, and San Ramon
Dungeness crab cakes: $10
Dungeness crab salad: $10

Walnut Creek Yacht Club, Walnut Creek
Dungeness Crab Cakes with pan fried, cauliflower purée, cherry tomato & parsley salad, green peppercorn mustard. $14
WCYC crab Louie Salad with Dungeness crab: $26
Cioppino with Dungeness
Whole cooked, cracked, and chilled Dungeness crab: Market price. (chef Kevin Weinberg will also prepare it roasted, cooked in garlic, herbs, mustard and butter, and served with cheese toast and joe's salad, or Singapore style: spicy red chile crab, served over jasmine rice)

Wente Restaurant, Livermore:
Dungeness crab with garden squash aioli, baby greens, crispy avocado, cilantro and pickled peppers. Appetizer. $14.

Vanessas Bistro, Walnut Creek
Crab sandwich with Dungeness, avocado, tomatoes, mozzarella, cilantro and a lemon-ginger vinaigrette: $14

Yankee Pier, Lafayette
Half or whole steamed Dungeness crab with two sides: $19.50, $37
Dungeness crab Cake apple fennel slaw, lemon aioli: $13
Dungeness crab roll with griddled bun & kettle chips: $22
Dungeness crab Louie Salad with butter lettuce, avocado, sieved egg: $22
Dungeness crab Cioppino with mussels, clams, shrimp & rockfish: $25.50


Happy Hour Bar & Bites at
The Cooperage

Monday through Friday
3pm – 5:30pm


This isn’t your typical happy hour. This quintessential neighborhood spot offers high-quality craft cocktails on tap and tasty bites. Menu features: $10 cocktails on tap, $5 select beer & wine, $1 oysters, $7 bacon cheeseburger sliders, $7 crispy beer battered shrimp sliders, $9 sashimi-grade ahi tuna tartare. 

32 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
​Reservations: www.thecooperagelafayette.com or 925.298.5915

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