Weekly Dish: Truffle Season!
Dig into truffles around the East Bay; Lazy Dog opens in Concord; Sierra Nevada in Berkeley; and more!
It’s just about truffle season, and for those so inclined, below is a little list of places around the East Bay where you can get a taste of these aromatic, tuber delicacies.
Oliveto’s annual truffle dinners have become an institution in Oakland, and this year is no different. How it works: Owner Bob Klein gets a shipment from a longtime source in Italy, and executive chef Jonah Rhodehamel creates a special menu with black truffle–packed dishes, as well as lighter pastas and appetizers on which you can shave white truffles. If you’ve never been, it's an experience worth splurging on. This year’s dinners will be held November 19-22. CLICK HERE for more information and a sample of last year’s menu. 5655 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 547-5356, oliveto.com.
In the same Market Hall building in Rockridge, The Pasta Shop sells both black and white truffles to ambitious home chefs. Also available at the Pasta Shop’s other location on Fourth Street in Berkeley, they’re selling black Italian "burgundy" truffles for less than $30 per ounce, and Italian white truffles at around $220 per ounce. Both will be available through the new year. And, while both are generally available to walk-ins, it's recommended that customers order ahead to guarantee they’ll get the quantity they want. Contact Juliana at (510) 250-6021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. rockridgemarkethall.com/pasta-shop.
Desco, the new Italian restaurant that replaced Borgo Italia in Old Oakland, has a special menu from chef-owner Donato Scotti featuring a la carte "tartufo bianco" white truffles. Dishes includes Uovo al Tartufo, sunny-side-up egg and tartufo bianco for $55; raviolo all’Uovo, large ravioli with egg yolk, ricotta and tartufo bianco for $60; tajerin, classic Piemontese shoestring pasta with butter and tartufo bianco for $60; and risotto e Tartufo risotto, risotto parmiggiana with tartufo bianco for $60. 499 9th St., Oakland, (510) 663-9000, descooakland.com.
BUILD Pizzeria Roma, the DIY wood-fired pizza spot in downtown Berkeley, is introducing a seasonal white-truffle pizza called the Quattro Formaggi. It’s made with fresh mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, burrata, Pecorino di Tartufo, crimini and portobello mushrooms, and wild arugula, and is finished with EVOO. Then, it’s topped with freshly shaved white truffles. The pizza comes in at $27.95, and diners also have the option to have truffles shaved onto any pizza for an additional $15. 2286 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 898-1839, buildpizzeria.com.
... So those are the definites as far as truffles. There are also a few other places in the East Bay that are in the probably-but-we’re-not-sure-we'll-have-truffles category. I’ll list ‘em below with the caveat that you please call to double check that they’re available.
Prima Ristorante: Chef-owner Peter Chastain has done an annual truffle dinner in the past. That doesn’t sound like it’ll be happening this year, but Chastain did say he may offer them on a more informal, a la carte basis. 1522 N Main St., Walnut Creek, (925) 935-7780, primawine.com.
Chez Panisse: In previous years, this Berkeley institution has done a full-fledged Truffle Week. They’re not sure yet if that’s happening this year ... but it might, so check the website. I was told all the info will be on there if it's a go. 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 548-5525, chezpanisse.com.
Draeger’s Blackhawk: This Danville market has carried truffles in the past when they’ve been available, so call to check. 4100 Blackhawk Plz Cir., Danville, (925) 648-5800, draegers.com.
Postino: Executive chef Stewart Beatty said he will be offering both black and white truffles on the menu, but that it would be on a somewhat sporadic basis--meaning when he has them, he'll offer them. Your best bet is on the weekends, Beatty says, likely starting in the next couple of weeks. 3565 Mt Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 299-8700, postinorestaurant.com.
Okay, on to non-truffle-related news, if I may …
Oyama Sushi is officially open in Walnut Creek next to 1515 on N. Main Street. These guys run a nice, popular sushi restaurant in Lafayette, so it should be a good addition to the downtown dining scene. I’d tell you more about the owners, but like I've said before, they never call me back …
Hey, new vegan restaurant coming to Pleasanton! Now that’s something you don’t hear every day … It’ll be called Blossom Vegan Restaurant, and comes from the same owners as Golden Lotus in Oakland. The menu, says owner and manager Van Dang, will be about 95 percent the same as well, which means an emphasis on Vietnamese with a few American dishes thrown in, and all vegan. (CLICK HERE to check out Golden Lotus’ menu). Blossom will be taking over Saigon Express at 4000 Pimlico Dr. near Santa Rita Road and I-580. Dang says she’s shooting for a grand opening December 8.
Ever heard of Noodles & Company? Me either, but apparently there are several coming to the Bay Area, including Cupertino, San Francisco’s Metreon, and San Ramon. According to the website, it’s a national chain devoted to all things noodles, “where a bowl of pesto cavatappi or Japanese pan noodles rests comfortably next to Wisconsin Mac & Cheese.” Hey, as an unrepentant carb lover, I’m fully down with this concept … Not sure when it'll be here, exactly, but the website says its going into the Crow Canyon Place shopping center, replacing, I believe, the 360 Burritos.
Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is having its grand opening Thursday at Concord’s Willows Shopping Center. It's the first Northern California outpost for this small, family-run, “upscale-casual” chain. It’s a big space—nearly 8,000 square feet—with a mountain lodge-y décor. There will also be a 1,322 square foot outdoor, dog-friendly patio with fire pits (there’s even a "Dog Menu" featuring brown rice and grilled chicken breast or hamburger. Nice touch …). Human food, according to the restaurant, “blends modern, globally-inspired flavors with comforting and familiar tastes,” and includes dishes such as spicy Moroccan chicken and cous cous, and handmade dim sum--plus more American comfort classics like a Baja California Burger, and black-and-bleu pizza. There are 30 craft beers on tap, including several local breweries, and 25 by the bottle. lazydogrestaurants.com.
Speaking of beer… Oakland’s latest beer garden concept, Lost & Found, is getting close to launching. Located in the Uptown district right behind the Paramount Theatre, Lost & Found is from the same folks that run the popular Layover bar not too far away, and should be open within the month, says executive chef Dennis Yadroff. Sounds like an interesting concept, too. Yadroff describes the menu as “gourmet fast food,” with the definition of fast food being anything that you can eat with your hands. And he’s serious about that: There will be no utensils available. The menu will include creative, shareable snacks such as crispy pork ears and homemade “Cheetoes” made from an instant ramen batter (sounds interesting). Salad will come on skewers (think beets and artichoke hearts and little gem lettuce), and there will be several sandwiches, including a Puerto Rican–style Jibarito steak sandwich sporting a fried plantain bun in place of bread. The beer menu offers mostly California crafts, but also some cheaper options like PBR. In general, Yadroff says he’s hoping to keep things things and affordable. “I want it to be inventive and interesting, but casual enough to be affordable without being on higher end of things.” Check the website for updates: lostandfound510.com.
And more beer… Sierra Nevada’s new tap room on Berkeley's Fourth Street, The Torpedo Room, is just about ready to open. They’ll have 16 Sierra Nevada brews on tap, including some rare, small-batch draught choices only available in Berkeley and Sierra’s taproom in Chico. To that end, they announced one of the Torpedo Room’s debut beers: a Torpedo Extra IPA aged in rye whiskey barrels with citra hops added. Sounds delish. Check their blog for opening updates.
And wine … Inside Scoop tips that the Barrel Room wine bar in Rockridge (as first reported here!), the sister location to the original located in San Francisco, should be opening by the end of the month. A few more details revealed: There will be 50 wines by the glass, with an emphasis on small-production wines, and there will be a full food menu headed by Sam Paulding, a former Oliveto chef. Click here for more on the food …
And in Alameda, Tablehopper notes that the anticipated everything-made-from-scratch Italian eatery Trabocco from husband and wife team Giuseppe Naccarelli and Christine Naish Naccarelli is slated to open Monday, November 18. Check Tablehopper’s story to check out the menu (it sounds, to use my wife’s preferred verbiage, yummy): trabocco.com.