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Diablo Dish — January '09


Restaurateur Daniel Patterson, who once accused Alice Waters and her entourage of straightjacketing the food scene with culinary monoculture, comes to  Waters’ territory to open Bracina at the new Jack London Market. The owner of San Francisco’s two-Michelin-star Coi is collaborating with the former chef of Delfina, Lauren Kiino, to create seasonal “rustic-refined” Northern California cuisine, featuring vegetables, handmade pastas, and wood-oven-cooked fish. “The kitchen will definitely be the center of the restaurant in terms of aesthetics as well as the food itself,” says Patterson, who is shooting for a late spring opening.

Oakland gets more attention from that city across the Bay with the opening of Ozumo in the new Broadway Grand condos. The original is in San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The new restaurant’s Izakaya slant, which means “sake house with small plates,” should be great for after-hours Japanese nosh and cocktails.

The dessert bar trend hits Berkeley with Cioccolata Di Vino, a dessert and wine café, opening in December in north Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood. Tagging onto another trend, the “gastropub” Meridian opened in November near downtown Berkeley’s other new gourmet pub, Henry’s, in the Hotel Durant. Meridian’s Steven Musolf, former chef of Los Gatos’ award-winning Trevese, will serve up small plates such as seared tuna tataki, alongside classic pub fare, to diners fixated on eight high-def TVs.

The San Francisco–based Soup Freaks recently opened a spot in Emeryville. Enjoy bowls of organic favorites such as freakin’ chili (with a dash of Scharffen Berger chocolate) and beluga lentil (with organic Diestel turkey Italian sausage). Soup Freaks also delivers its freshly made soups to 228 ZIP codes, yours included.

Plenty going on east of the Caldecott, too, with Bella Ristorante opening in the recently renovated Clayton Valley Shopping Center. Owner and chef Abdel Redouane, who also owns Concord’s Luna, says his new Italian eatery will be a bit more casual for family-friendly dining. While neighboring Walnut Creek patrons await the Pizza Place and Planet Raw, after delayed openings, they can check out Lark Creek’s new look, which includes fire pits, large banquettes, and a shelter overhang that creates a modern lounge feel on its popular front patio. Nearby Havana also got something new with an updated seasonal menu prepared by new chef Cyrus Irudistan, who set sail from the Yacht Club after five years as head chef.Il Fornaio, meanwhile, is serving weekend brunch.

Not all food news is good news. Donations to Open Heart Kitchen, the only hot-meal program in the Tri-Valley, have dried up in the economic downturn, forcing the organization to buy food with its dwindling cash reserves. Forgo that latte, and send help to: Open Heart Kitchen, 1141 Catalina Dr., Ste. 137, Livermore, CA 94550.

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

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