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Diablo Dish: December

Gianni’s Italian Bistro will hopefully be opening in late November, there is a new chef at the Duck Club restaurant, more pizza joints are rumored to be opening up, and more!


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Blue Gingko

Photo by S G. // Yelp.com

Sometimes, there’s just no place like home. A year after helping move his popular Italian restaurant to Danville, Gianni Bartoletti parted ways with Incontro Ristorante to run his own place—in the same San Ramon location where Incontro used to be. The authentic, regional Italian concept will be similar—he retained the original Incontro chef, who had left the Danville spot early on—but with some modern touches and more affordable prices. “I wanted to go back to something smaller, more intimate; that’s what I enjoy.” As for the name? Gianni’s Italian Bistro, of course. He’s aiming to open by late November.


Rockridge has its groove back. After years of other Oakland ’hoods stealing foodie headlines, the upscale but old-school district has been on a serious roll. First came word that Michelin-starred Commis chef James Syhabout is taking over the former Somerset restaurant. Few details, except it will be a more casual concept, and the executive chef is Commis chef de partie Benjamin Coe. Expect a spring 2013 debut. A second bombshell landed when A16 announced it was taking over Hudson. The lauded San Francisco eatery built up a devoted following with a combo of authentic southern Italian fare and a one-of-a-kind Italian wine list. Look for A16 Rockridge to open in early 2013. A couple other cool projects coming up: the Ramen Shop from three Chez Panisse alums; a bottle shop/beer bar from the Trappist folks; and a new French bistro concept in the ex–Water Lounge space.


Sasa and Blue Gingko owner Philip Yang pulled a shocker when he closed his Roti8 less than a year after opening in Blackhawk Plaza, saying he couldn’t compete with extended happy hour of neighboring restaurants. Good news is that Yang’s Blue Gingko has been a hit since it debuted in August in the same shopping center.


The Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa has a new executive chef, Adam Carpenter, who is planning a complete menu overhaul at the hotel’s Duck Club restaurant that will roll out over the next couple months. A DVC grad, Carpenter brings a packed culinary résumé, including executive chef stints at Blackhawk Grille, as well as Ponzu and Jasper’s in San Francisco.


In Danville, Tami Bean closed her Wild Vine Hideaway, took over Father Nature’s, and renamed it, naturally, Father Nature’s Hideaway. Bean brings the same wine bar and New American cuisine concept (plus live music and comedy) to the new spot for dinner, while preserving Father Nature’s breakfast and lunch menu. Also in Danville, the newest Ike’s Lair debuted in the Trader Joe’s shopping center.


Pizza, pizza. Rumor is Jules Thin Crust, the gluten free–friendly pizza joint, is headed for Rockridge, while Patxi’s is looking to open another Contra Costa location.


The folks behind the popular Le Truc food trucks are taking over kitchen operations at Alameda’s Rock Wall Winery. Rubs BBQ Bistro is headed for the San Ramon Marketplace early next year. Livermore’s popular Lanna Thai Restaurant opened Baan Lanna Thai next door. It offers a Thai street food menu.


Finally, sleepy Port Costa’s Bull Valley Restaurant got a gourmet makeover. Bull Valley Roadhouse offers elevated roadhouse fare such as a wedge salad with dry-farmed lettuce, bacon lardons, and house-made buttermilk dressing.  


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