Weekly Dish: Food Fest Frenzy

Get your food on at events all over the East Bay; changes planned for Duck Club in Lafayette; Zagat hits shelves; Raviolis taking over Toscana in Concord; Forge Pizza headed for Danville; and more in this week's Dish!



You've heard of the Carpocalypse in LA, right? Well sounds like this weekend is going to be a people-acolypse in San Francisco with estimates of more than 1 million extra folks jamming into the city for an incredible confluence of major events that includes two Giants playoff games, the America's Cup world series races, Fleet Week, the North Beach Italian Heritage Parade, and (my favorite) the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park. Whew! The City by the Bay is going to be tight as a tick, so for you foodies who aren't also hardcore sailors, bluegrass enthusiasts, Navy buffs, Italians, or baseball fans, I've got a little suggestion: stick to the East Bay this weekend, there are plenty of fun foodie fests to keep you busy and sated (and hey, looks like the A's might just have a few playoff games of their own...). Here's what's happening.

Thursday
Moderno Italiano Festival: Hosted by Emeryville's new Hot Italian thin-crust pizza joint, this festival kicks off on Thursday in the Public Market at 6 p.m. with a “Mangia Bevi Mercato” featuring Italian food, wine, and beer tastings including Galbani cheeses, Baci chocolates, Peroni beer and various Italian wines, as well as locally-made products in the Italian-style, such as Fra’ Mani salumi and Corto Olive Oil. There will also be Fiat test drives and a free screening of Italian film Gianni e le Donne (The Salt of Life) at 9 p.m. at a bike-in outdoor movie theater set up outside of the restaurant. 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville, (510) 922-1369, click here for more info.

Friday
First Friday Oakland Art Murmur: It's not just about the art, it's also a major venue for street food carts along 23rd Street and a chance to check out Oakland's burgeoning restaurant scene from Pizzaiolo at the east end to Haven on the west. Go to oaklandartmurmur.org for all the details.

Saturday
LoCA Uncorked: The Best of Lodi California Wines Festival: Okay, so you only have to go halfway across the bridge at this wine festival held at Treasure Island which will feature 35 Lodi wineries pouring over 200 award-winning wines, as well as artisan cheeses, olive oil, and food provided by Pasta Pomodoro. Bonus: you'll get a great view of the America's Cup races and Blue Angels flyovers. 1-5 p.m., Treasure Island Great Lawn, go to locauncorked.com for details.
Bon Appetit – Toasts & Tastes of Fall: Benefiting the Pleasanton Partnership in Education Foundation, this cocktail party will feature live music, a martini bar, and an auction, not to mention a sampling of 15 food and wine pairings prepared by local chefs and school principals. 6:30pm -10pm, CarrAmerica Conference Center, Pleasanton, click here for more info.

Sunday
Picnic in the Street:
Rockridge's peerless Market Hall will celebrate 25 years in business this Sunday as its merchants take to the streets offering food tastings, demos, wine tastings, and a cookbook exchange (pumpkin painting and a goat petting zoo for the kid-os as well). Up for grabs will be sausages from Oliveto, taquitos from Cactus taqueria, pulled pork sandwiches from The Pasta Shop, chocolate covered strawberries from Market Hall Bakery, rosé from Paul Marcus Wines... you get the idea. Noon-6 p.m., click here for details.

Okay, so it's maybe not on quite the same scale as SF, but there's plenty to keep you busy... enjoy!


Breakfast buffet at the Duck ClubI reported last week that the Lafayette Park Hotel has a new executive chef. Turns out that's just the half of it, as I've found out that new chef Adam Carpenter is planning a menu overhaul that will be part of pretty major dining revamp at the hotel. Turns out that the Duck Club will be closing for a month or two at the start of the year for a light remodel, and will reopen with Carpenter's brand new menu. The Duck Club will also take over the space currently occupied by Bistro at the Park. What's the new decór, you ask? And what's the new menu going to be like? Well, I don't know. The hotel and Carpenter are still in the planning stages, so I'll get you more details when they tell me... Update: I've just been informed that the Bistro at the Park will remain open and separate from the Duck Club after the refresh, should be good news to Dish readers who expressed some dismay about Bistro closing...


The new Zagat Guide is out. Sort of... Inside Scoop broke the news about the curiously un-promoted Zagat Guide hitting shelves yesterday, and it turns out there was a reason it was so under-promoted: it wasn't supposed to be released yet. Apparently there was a significant typo on the book's spine that the guide is working to fix, and the first batch of Guides were released accidentally (with said typo). Zagat is currently working to recall all those guides and will release its official copy this Thursday to, presumably, greater fan fare. I wasn't able to get my hands on a copy but the Chron was, so click here if you want a preview on the results (spoiler: Gary Danko was rated tops for food, again...). I should be able to dig down and get an East bay perspective some time in the next couple days so check back if you're interested...


Toscana Ristorante, the popular Italian restaurant in Concord has closed, but the space won't remain vacant for long. Taking its place will be Ravioli's Italian Market Place, which will move from its current under-the-radar location on Clayton Road to the prime new digs on Todos Santos Plaza. The family-owned Raviolis has been running their business as sort of a trial run on Clayton Road for hte last two years and plans to bring a similar Italian menu to the new location (click here to check out their current menu), along with plans for an Italian deli where you can pick up fresh pasta, bread, wine, etc. Owners are hoping to open Ravioli's by the end of the year.


I wrote about the new Forge Pizza planned for Jack London Square this winter from Table- 24 and Barbacoa-owner Michael Karp's new restaurant group. Karp told me he had plans to expand the concept to other location in the East Bay and it appears there is one headed for downtown Danville. According to Danville officials, Lunardi's is currently in negotiations to sublet a part of its space on Railroad Ave to Forge, which would offer wood-fired pizza by the slice as well as beer and wine. The proposed new Forge is a smaller version of what is being planned for Oakland and would take over the space formerly occupied by Gelato Classico (which has some nice outdoor seating).


Another new bakery coming to the East Bay. Well this is more of a bakery in the La Boulange sense, as Chicago-founded chain Corner Bakery is opening a new location in a prime corner spot at the Pleasanton Gateway on Bernal Ave. Corner offers a mix of fresh-baked breads and pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads, plus a few breakfast offerings. Expect a December opening. cornerbakerycafe.com


Also, some cool news courtesy of Patch. Looks like Father Natures and Wild Vine Hideaway have merged to form, sensibly, Father Nature's Hideaway. According to Patch, the new restaurant is co-owned by Father Nature’s owner Tae Pak and Wild Vine owner Tami Bean, who are working together to create a new menu and business model. Sounds like Bean's Wild Vine Hideaway will remain open in its current location in downtown Danville.


Mixed Grain opened in place of Koreana Kitchen in downtown Walnut Creek and the concept is not as health-oriented as I was fearing. It's actually another Korean place with a nice menu filled with staples like kimchi, dumplings, tofu stew, and most prominently, rice bowls. The centerpiece of the menu is the bibimbop, a hearty rice bowl topped with spinach, mushrooms, carrots, bean sprouts, and your choice of meat and white or mixed grains rice, with the whole thing topped with an over-easy fried egg. That's what I got (pictured) and it was a great, very satisfying, comforting dish. Perfect hangover fare, actually (not that I'd know anything about that...). I'd recommend getting it in the sizzling stone bowl, which crisps up the rice at the bottom for a nice crunchy texture. ]

Anyone who follows this blog, knows I loved Koreana Kitchen, but there's no denying that it had been getting a little long in the tooth, and the new owners (who, the waiter told me, run several other Korean restaurants in the Bay Area) definitely spruced the place up with nice results. 1546 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 938-5959, mixedgrain.com.


Couple of Walnut Creek rumors courtesy of man-about-town Beyond the Creek that I checked into: 1) Sunrise Bistro is expanding into the now shuttered next door space, formerly Art Form. I spoke with owner Cindy Gersham, who told me pretty convincingly that she has no plans to expand next door at this time. She did say, however, that Sunrise Bistro started live music on Saturday nights from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. 2) That Oi-C Bowl might be closing on North Main Street: spoke to the owner, Linda, who assured me that she has no plans to close down any time soon. We shall see...


Tanya Holland's B-Side BBQ is debuting its new cocktail program along with new late hours this Friday. The upscale barbecue joint on Oakland's San Pablo Ave is now open until 10 p.m. and has a suped-up new cocktail list that includes such concoctions as the South of the Border Lemonade (basil vodka, mezcal, cilantro, agave, lemon) in a mason jar, and The Best Weather (Mandarin blossom vodka, blood orange liqueur, aperol, lime). 3303 San Pablo Avenue  Oakland, (510) 595-0227, bsidebbq.com.


Couple o' tid bit and morsels...

Hsiang's in Lafayette has closed and will soon become a new Chinese restaurant called Yan's, expected to open back up sometime this month according to a phone message recording from the new owner.

There's a new brewery opening in Oakland called Ghost Town Brewery, which is inhabiting a former former car repair shop at 2640 Union Street in Oakland according to SF Eater.

A new bar called Caps and Taps appears headed for the Tralee Village shopping center in Dublin near the Nothing Bundt Cakes, according to ABC license reports.

Camino in Oakland kicks off Octoberfest this Monday with a three-course, German-themed menu ($28-$35) every Monday night all this month. Dish items will include such foods as owner Russ Moore's housemade boudin blanc sausages, and each meal will come with a fresh-baked pretzel.


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