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Diablo Dish: February

Catch up on the latest food news!


From French food to food truck: Ed Marinelli, former co-owner and operator of Le Virage restaurant, is planning a gathering place for food trucks on the now-vacant Walnut Creek lot that once housed the popular French restaurant. Opening as early as March, The Bend (Le Virage means “the bend” in French) will host from six to eight mobile food vendors for lunch and dinner, six days a week, at North Main and California boulevards. It will be the city’s first regular food truck “pod,” which has become common around the Bay Area. Go to thebendwc.com for updates.

There’s plenty more Walnut Creek restaurant news to go around. The former Walnut Creek Baking Company space on Locust Street finally has a tenant, and it’s a familiar one. The owners of the popular Italian eatery 54 Mint in nearby Concord are opening an Italian-style bakery: 54 Mint Forno will focus on breads, pizza, and focaccia. But also look for Italian pastries, such as cornetto, an Italian version of a French croissant made plain, with cream, or with chocolate; and maritozzo con la panna, a soft glazed bun with raisins. The bakery will be open for breakfast and lunch, according to owner Claudio Ricciolini, who hopes to open before spring.

Opening around the same time (if all goes well) is Sunol Ridge, a new upscale gastropub in downtown Walnut Creek, taking over the former Cypress space. Tri-Valley residents and first-time restaurateurs Chris George and Mark Flaherty will offer 32 craft beers on tap and dozens of premier wines by the glass to pair with a menu of sophisticated pub fare.

Finally, the under-construction retail and housing development project set to come online at 1500 Newell Avenue in Walnut Creek in mid–2015 has signed its first major restaurant tenant. Taking over one of several ground-floor spaces is Paul Martin’s American Bistro, an upscale American-style bar and grill concept from the same operators behind Fleming’s steak house and P.F. Chang’s.

Over in downtown Danville, a few more details have come to light about the restaurant taking over the former China Paradise. According to owner-proprietor Evelyn Tang, Yo’s on Hartz will be a lounge-restaurant hybrid with a full bar and a menu focused on Asian fusion fare. Another Asian concept in Dublin is starting to take shape. The Dumpling Factory, from local developer Jim Tong, will serve high-end Chinese fare, with an emphasis on Shanghai-style steamed dumplings. The interior should be similarly upscale, with the centerpiece being an eight-foot-tall silver-and-gold mosaic replication Ming Dynasty horse. As of press time, the restaurant was set for a mid-January debut.

The fast-casual chain trend continues unabated in the Tri-Valley. Following the recent debuts of Black Bear Diner in Pleasanton, and Panera Bread and Buffalo Wild Wings in Livermore, comes news that Southern California–based Lazy Dog Café is opening a new restaurant in Dublin. Taking over the Macaroni Grill space on Hacienda Drive, this will be the ski chalet–themed eatery’s second East Bay location, after debuting in Concord’s Sun Valley shopping center late last year.

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