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Diablo Dish — February '09

Artisan Bistro to open up at former Gigi location in Lafayette; and more.


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After a short stint as executive chef at Fringale in San Francisco, John Marquez comes our way next month to open Artisan Bistro in Lafayette, which will replace the recently closed—and Diablo Food Award winning restaurant—Gigi. Marquez, who has worked at Coi and French Laundry, says his cozy eatery will feature “upscale bistro cuisine—comfort food, nothing too fancy.”

Another San Francisco chef heads to Oakland’s Jack London Square: Rick Hackett, executive chef at the popular Market Bar, will bring Bocanova to the waterfront location across from the new Jack London Market this summer. The 6,500-square-foot rustic-modern restaurant will focus on South and Central American cuisine, prepared in an exhibition kitchen equipped with an iron griddle, rotisserie, and grill for Argentine steak house meats.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: The new Mimosas Champagne Lounge was due to open in January near Ozumo and Picán in downtown Oakland, setting a romantic mood with glasses of bubbly, oysters, and artisan chocolates. ”We want to bring Champagne sampling to everyone, no matter their income level,” says co-owner James Pierce.

Left Bank is considering an opening in Jack London Square this year, but management has its hands full with its Pleasant Hill branch’s move to Walnut Creek set for late ‘09. The soon-to-move brasserie has brought in new executive chef Thomas Hurley, acclaimed in Portland/Seattle dining circles, while the new value-oriented bar menu offers great deals, all for under $10.

Downtown Orinda recently gained a new casual eatery, Turquoise Mediterranean Grill, whose specialty is house-made, made-to-order falafel. Downtown Danville also got a new Mediterranean place: Blackhawk’s Pride of the Mediterranean restaurant opened a market and deli in the Crossroads, next to Fringe Hair Salon.

The December opening of Pleasanton’s new Filipino eatery was good news for fans of the closed Pacific Gourmet and Market, located in the same spot. The Jeepney serves its kare-kare (oxtail, beef tripe, and vegetables in peanut sauce) and sisig (marinated grilled pork) in the Koll Center on Bernal.

If you’re driving up and down Pleasanton’s Main Street looking for Momiji, don’t despair. It just changed its name (and nothing else) to Main Sushi. Meanwhile, the former owner of Baci Cafe (also on Main) plans to open Lettuce this month, a salad and soup joint that will cater to the downtown Walnut Creek lunch crowd in the former Strings Pasta Cafe location.

Connoisseurs can get their cupcakes singly or by the dozen at Dolce’s new kitchen and bakery in Livermore, set to open in late January. You can also get delivery to your Tri-Valley abode—or wait for owner Gloria Bruner to open her retail spot in Danville or San Ramon later this year. Order your sweetie a Valentine’s Day box filled with four or six heart-topped cupcakes.

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.

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