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Weekly Dish: Le Truc Coming to Le Alameda

Popular food truck joins forces with Rock Wall Winery; pop-up shops coming to Walnut Creek; Fauna and Destino debut in Oakland; a first take on Borgo Italia; and more in this week's Dish!



OK, short and sweet this week, deadlines and whatnot...

The people behind the popular (and classily named) le Truc food truck are moving across the Bay to take over food operations at Rock Wall Winery. Seems like a good fit for Rock Wall—a hip, urban winery located in a 40,000-square-foot hangar in industrial Alameda with spectacular views overlooking the City—to partner with the established San Fran-based food truck operation. Starting next month, Le Truc will be taking over Rock Wall's on-site kitchen and will be offering a full menu in the winery's year-old tasting room, deck, and private event "dome" five days a week. Views of the city from Rock Wall's deckLook for the same contemporary American bistro fare available at Le Truc's "bustaurant," with items like the (pictured) turkey meatball sandwich with hand crafted turkey meatballs, provolone, cabernet marinara, parmesan, basil, and pepperoncini (suggested pairing: Rock Wall’s 2010 Monte Rosso Zinfandel) or the not quite as classily named Butt King Taco with Thai curry pulled pork, sweet bell pepper slaw, pepperoncini aioli, picked cilantro and lime (suggested pairing: Rock Wall’s 2011 Rock Hound White 2011). food will range from $4 to $15 and restaurant hours are 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., Wed.—Sun. Look for the Grand Opening on November 2. Rock Wall Winery, 2301 Monarch Street, Alameda, (510) 522-5700, rockwallwines.com.


Some more wine-related news... Steven Kent winery is hosting a barrel tasting for its 2009 Lineage and 2010 Barrel Sample this Friday from 7 to 8 p.m. You can learn a little more about Steven Kent (and a whole lot more) in our Livermore Wine Country guide in our October issue. Call (925) 243-6442 to reserve a spot at the tasting for $20. 5443 Tesla Road, Livermore, (925) 243-6440, stevenkent.com.

There's a new place called Canvas and Cabernet coming to downtown Walnut Creek on North Main Street. Haven't been able to get a hold of owner Julee Herrmann and will update with more details when I do, but judging by the name I'd say a combo of art and wine is a good bet...

Never too early to reserve your spot for Wine And Dine in San Ramon. Happening on Thursday, October 18, the 24th annual event brings together some of the area's best wineries, restaurants, and breweries for an all-you-can-eat-and-drink good time.Tix are $35 in advance, $45 at the door, CLICK HERE for all the details.


Good news to report for Bistro at the Park fans. The folks over at Lafayette Park Hotel have reconsidered their plan to incorporate the Bistro into the Duck Club (which is going to be closed for a few weeks at the beginning of the year for a light remodel and menu change from new chef Adam Carpenter). The hotel and spa now reports that Bistro at the Park will remain open, and separate, going forward. 


Some openings to report in Oakland...

Ex-Somerset owner Gary Rizzo quietly debuted his new Destino Bar & Restaurant this week on Grand Ave right next door to Camino. Rizzo described Destino's food as "genuine Mexican cuisine and California dishes of unusual composition." The menu (apparently a collaboration between chef Marisol Delrio and sous chefs Rogelio Mejia and Alex Aguilar) seems to feature Mexican-inspired dishes with some California flair like Empanadas with chimichurri sauce filled with sweet and creamy corn and manchego cheese and a chili relleno with Yukon potatoes, marinated steak and chorizo with a green mole sauce. Plus, there's a hamburger for good measure. 3909 Grand Ave., Oakland, (510) 788.4152, destinobarandrestaurant.com

And Flora's long-awaited side project has finally opened next door: the adorably-named Fauna is essentially a casual extension of Flora, a 22-seat adjacent bar built for folks to sit while waiting for a table at the restaurant. Or not: Fauna has the same great cocktails and art deco theme, plus a few more beers on tap, TVs to watch the big game (go A's!), and its own special menu of small plates.

Parklet alert! Common in San Francisco, Oakland debuted its first parklet (a small urban park created by replacing parking spaces) in front of Farley's East on Grand Ave in Uptown with the help of donations from the Lake Merritt/Uptown District Association, customers and neighboring businesses.

Next door, Jason McLean says he's hoping to open Loring Cafe, his "bohemian-luxe, fine dining" restaurant, by mid-November.


Pretty cool out-of-the-box project announced for Walnut Creek. In a partnership between the city of Walnut Creek and Lafayette's Main Street Property Services (they're the ones behind some cool East bay projects like Fiesta Lane in Lafayette and Pacheco Square in Concord), there is a retail pop-up plaza planned for Liberty Bell Plaza at the corner of Broadway and Mount Diablo Blvd. What is that? Well, the city hopes to fill the space with unique, boutique vendors, both food-related and retail, to occupy stalls in time for this year's holiday season. Could be a nice alternative to the plethora of chains over in Broadway Plaza. Call Main Street Properties at (925) 299-8170 for details or if you're interested in participating.

Also in Walnut Creek...

Hard to believe, but Cypress is celebrating its one-year anniversary next Wednesday (October 17) with a Casablanca-themed party. They'll also be rolling out the new Fall menu: CLICK HERE for deets...

Redux Lounge is rebooting its food service and will be debuting a new restaurant concept next week. It'll be pizza by day (plus a few other standard American dishes) and then morph into a Japanese-Italian-French fusion bistro by night (plates include Smokin Crawfish, Main lobster tail, Angus beef skewers, shrimp tempura... 1411 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 934-9490, reduxlounge.com.


All kinds of Tri-Valley news...

Thanks to Diablo's managing editor LeeAnne Jones and her eagle-eyed clan for these couple of tidbits:

Asconsa pizza is coming to Pleasanton⇒  There's a new Dickie's BBQ coming to San Ramon on Crow Canyon Road near the Panera and Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop.
⇒  Local pizza chain Ascona is opening up a third location in Pleasanton near the Safeway at the new Pleasanton Gateway shopping center at Bernal and Valley avenues.
⇒  The popular Lanna Thai Bistro in Livermore expanded next door to open a sister restaurant, Baan Lanna Thai, which is focusing on a more Thai street food menu. They're officially open. 2270 and 2262 Las Positas Rd., Livermore, lannathailivermore.com.
⇒  Sad to report that Cellar 9, the American comfort food/steak house at Grafton Station next to Buffalo Wild Wings shut down. Too bad, it was a cool, ambitious restaurant that was stuck in a tough location...
⇒  Also, Amelia's Deli closed in downtown Pleasanton. Read more in the Pleasanton Weekly.

El Sacromonte, they of the authentic regional Mexican fare on Livermore's First Street, has started to kick it late-night on weekends. You can now enjoy a DJ, appetizers menu, and one of the restaurant's 23 different kinds of margaritas until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. 2062 First St., Livermore, (925) 371-1173, elsacromonte-usa.com

Guys, come eat like a man at Zephyr Restaurant's Cigar Dinner on the Patio this Monday (October 15). The four-course meal (including crab-stuffed prawns and herb/dijon-crusted lamb chop) comes with drink pairings and two premium cigars to enjoy on the Livermore restaurant's outdoor patio. That's what I'm talking about... Call (925) 961-1000 or email Lynn at ltei@zephyrgrill.com to make your reservation. 1736 1st St., Livermore,
(925) 961-1000, zephyrgrill.com.

Check out Rakestraw Books this Saturday for lunch to hear Kathleen Finn discus her new book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, her story of helping nine others find their inner cook. Just $10, lunch-included. CLICK HERE for the details and to reserve.

Blackhawk Grille has a new chef to go along with their new remodel. Taking over for Jason Buckley is Jason Bergeron, who brings executive chef experience from similarly-themed Joe’s American Bar & Grill in Peabody, Massachusetts.


Back to Oakland. Ozumo is hosting a 7-course food and sake pairing dinner this Thursday, October 11. Tix are $99, check it out here if you're interested...

Chef Donna Collins is hosting a pop-up dinner at Dopo this Sunday for her Southern-inspired Kin Soul Food. CLICK HERE for more info and email kinsoulfood@gmail.com for reservations.


SHOUT-OUT OF THE WEEK: BORGO ITALIA

So, I've been very intrigued by Borgo Italia—mostly by the angle that this would be Paul Ferrari's first restaurant project after a lifetime of traveling around Italy to source specialty foods for his family's A.G. Ferrari stores. If anyone would know how to execute an authentic, kick-ass Italian restaurant, it would have to be him, right?

Well, at lease on my first visit I wasn't disappointed. When I spoke to Ferrari in the months leading up to the opening, he described his desire to create a casual, comfortable, country-style spot where folks could eat multiple times per week—not a fancy, rarified, expensive restaurant as it seems so many of the new Bay Area Italian eateries have morphed into in recent years. For that reason, Borgo is open all day, with Italian pastries and espresso in the morning, and a compact affordable menu for lunch and dinner. The vibe is elegant but casual, and the space—in the former B Restaurant on a prime corner location in Old Oakland—is a real stunner with huge windows, a beautiful bar, and a rustic decor, much of which was transplanted from one of Ferrari's favorite restaurants in Italy. (he also imported two chefs from Italy, co-owners Fabio Dalle Vacche and Franco Camboli, who are running the show there—Ferrari isn't running things day-to-day).

torta fritta emilianaThen there's the food. The menu (which apparently changes daily) was blessedly small on my visit with only two antipastis, two pizzas, two pastas, and two mains to choose from, the most expensive of which was just $18. To start we got torta fritta emiliana, an absolutely wonderful little treat of a starter. We had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be light, airy fried dough squares puffed out to resemble tiny, delicious little pillows (of fried goodness). They were served with three different types of salumi, all unique and delicious and great paired with the dough squares. Get it if it's on the menu—really fun and tasty. My charming dining companion got the tagliatelle ragu, which was a perfectly executed, simple meat sauce (with sweet little flecks of diced carrot) over fresh tagliatelle raguegg pasta. I chose the salsiccia, an Italian sausage braised with red wine so it was an almost disturbingly dark hue and served with red onion stew. This was the dish that I think maybe best exemplifies Ferrrari's desire for a casual, country-style Italian restaurant: it's a dense, rustic, hearty dish that's packed with flavor, fills you up, and isn't meant to be too cute—I liked it a lot.

As always, if you're in the neighborhood... check 'em out!

Borgo Italia, 499 9th St., (510) 251-1008, borgoitaliaoakland.com.


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