Weekly Dish: Rodney Worth Hits Primetime
Rod Worth on Food TV this Thursday; Blue Gingko/Sasa owner headed for Dublin; Taiwanese noodles in Uptown Oakland; and more!
Rodney Worth is ready for his primetime close-up. The successful local restaurateur—he owns several Tri-Valley dining spots, including Danville’s The Peasant & the Pear—will appear on the Food Network this Thursday evening with his wife, Natalie. Why? Well, Worth’s newest venture, the Pear Bistro in downtown Napa, is the featured restaurant on Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell. The popular Food TV show spotlights individual restaurants searching for an executive chef, importing prospective talent from around the country to show off their cooking skills, with the winner earning the head-chef gig. If you’ve never met him, Worth is a larger than life character who is about as engaging a food personality as there is in this neck of the woods, so I’m looking forward to seeing him on the small screen—and wouldn’t be surprised if this was the start of more television appearances. Anyway, the show airs at 7 p.m. this Thursday on the Food Network—should be fun viewing.
Philip Yang is taking his successful brand of Japanese cuisine to Dublin. The Blue Gingko and Sasa owner is opening up a restaurant at the Fallon Gateway Shopping Center next to BJ’s Brewhouse. Yang says the concept hasn’t quite been nailed down, but that it will be in the style of an Izakaya (Japanese pub food generally served in small plates), and that it will be different from both Blue Gingko and Sasa. This news came soon after Yang announced that he is pulling out as the operator of Momo’s in downtown Pittsburg, and shifting that manpower toward the new Dublin restaurant. Momo’s, which is owned by the City of Pittsburg, will remain open, just with a different operator. This is the third new restaurant to commit to Fallon Gateway—I reported last week that a Hawaiian grill and Chinese BBQ eatery will be opening there as well. Yang says he is shooting to open his new restaurant by spring of next year.
Authentic Taiwanese noodles are headed for Uptown. First-time restaurateur Allison Chen is opening Pi Dan Noodle House at Broadway and Grand Avenue in Oakland's hopping Franklin Square area near Plum Bar, Ike’s, and the recently launched Umami Burger. Her concept is an interesting one: serving authentic Taiwanese-style dishes in a modern space that’s accessible to those less familiar with the cuisine. Chen, who is of Taiwanese descent but was born and raised in Walnut Creek and Danville, says her restaurant will specialize in a couple of Taiwanese comfort food dishes: beef noodle soup--essentially the Taiwanese national dish--and zha jiang mian, a dry noodle dish topped with a soybean paste sauce, meat, and veggies that Chen describes as "the Chinese answer to spaghetti and meatballs."
While she labels Pi Dan as a fast-casual concept with dishes in the $7 to $10 range, she says the décor won’t reflect the affordable prices. “I don’t want it to look like a typical Chinese restaurant,” she says. “My idea is to elevate Chinese food—it doesn’t have to be greasy and corn starchy, with sticky floors and bad service.”
Along those lines, Chen will be doing a major renovation of the space, so she doesn’t expect to open until spring of next year.
Looks like Main Street Brewery is growing. The longtime downtown Pleasanton brewpub at 830 Main Street is expanding next door this fall, opening up 828 Bites and Brews, according to its website. No real details on if the concept is any different from the main brewery, but I’ll update when I find out.
A16 Rockridge has been getting all kinds of good buzz, including in the Big D, and now it's starting a Sunday brunch service. Inspired by his family roots in Italy’s Puglia region, executive chef Rocky Maselli will offer southern Italian specialties such as sfogliatelle, a thin, layered, shell-shaped pastry from Naples made in-house; zeppole, a fried, donut-like pastry served with strawberry jam and sweet zuppa inglese; and fried ceci and potatoes with senise pepper vinaigrette, fried senise peppers, and a slow-cooked egg. Not to worry: wood-fired pizza and pastas also made the brunch menu.
America’s Cup sailing? Well, apparently it’s still going on, and this Saturday marks the start of the final showdown between the American Oracle team and the challenging Kiwis. It should be quite a spectacle, and there is no better place to watch it than Walnut Creek Yacht Club, which will be showing the races live on an HD flat-screen on their “aft deck” back patio. The first race starts at 1:10 p.m., and the second at 2:15. Chef-owner Kevin Weinberg (yes, that’s him holding the actual America's Cup trophy) won’t be in attendance because he actually scored tickets to watch the event live. Lucky dog…
A little more information about the recently opened Bourbon & Beef on College Ave in Rockridge: The chef-owner is Munther Massarweh, an El Salvadorian of Jordanian descent who was raised in San Francisco (now that’s a background!). Massarweh’s previous professional experience includes running Tin Pan Asian Bistro in San Francisco, Wild Fox Mesquite Fired Kitchen in Novato, and Scrumptious Occasions Catering in Napa. B&B’s menu focuses on latin-inspired meat dishes including puerco con curtido--crispy Kobe pork belly with jicama slaw and housemade tortillas--and carne de res con papas, grilled rib eye steak with roasted shishito peppers, and mixed field potatoes topped with chimichurri sauce. There will be brunch as well, including huevos rancheros and pan dulce—stuffed French toast with a jalapeño sweet cream. 5634 College Ave., (510) 788-4821, bourbonandbeef.com.
Berkeleyside Nosh has a couple interesting tid bits this week:
► Steve Thorlton, sous chef at the critically acclaimed State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, is co-launching Canoe Club, a roving pop-up supperclub in Oakland. First dinner over the weekend was sold out, but those curious should check out the website for upcoming dinners (generally five courses with beer and wine for $125). canoecluboakland.com.
► Also, Ici ice cream owner Mary Canales is doing her husband Paul a solid, providing frozen treats including ice cream sandwiches for his Restaurant Duende & Bodega in Uptown Oakland. duendeoakland.com.
Cool event happening at Rakestraw Books this Friday: The Danville bookstore is hosting Allison Aravelo and Erin Wade from Oakland’s celebrated mac-and-cheese restaurant, Homeroom, for dinner to celebrate their new cookbook, Mac + Cheese. Tix are $30/single or $45/couple, and include dinner and a signed copy of the book. Reservations required. (925) 837-7337, rakestrabooks.com.
Looking to dig into the Jewish High Holy Days this year? The Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkeley has you covered: They’ll be serving Jewish specialty dishes geared around Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Highlights include traditional favorites such as housemade round challah, matzo ball soup, Scott’s famous chopped liver, and Meema's noodle kugel, while new items this year are braised chicken with pomegranate and tamarind, and apple strudel with golden raisins and chestnut honey. Orders can be placed online at rockridgemarkethall.com, at the stores, or by phone. 5655 Market St., Oakland, (510) 250-6001; 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley, (510) 250-6004.
Berkeley’s Pyramid Alehouse is hosting a charity street fair and brewfest this Saturday, featuring live music, local breweries, food trucks, a vintage fire engine, and prizes and raffles. CLICK HERE for tickets; proceeds benefit Alisa Ann Rush Burn Foundation and the CDF Firefighters' Charities.
Finally, a quick congrats to Tiffane’s, which is celebrating its fifth year anniversary this Friday with a newly remodeled shop at 184 South K Street in Livermore. Ample new, sweet menu items are being promised via Facebook …