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Diablo Dish -- January 2011

The empire of The Peasant and the Pear continues to grow and major BBQ is slathering the Tri-Valley, plus new expansions everywhere, all in the Dish!


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The Rodney Worth empire continues to grow. The owner of the Peasant and the Pear in Danville, the Peasant’s Courtyard in Alamo, and the Little Pear in Blackhawk Plaza has taken over Coa. Worth plans to bring the Blackhawk Plaza restaurant’s somewhat elevated interpretation of Mexican cuisine down to earth. At the Prickly Pear Cantina, he’ll offer basics like chimichangas, enchiladas, and tamales—all with the freshest ingredients, of course. No other major changes are in store for Laurus and Stomp, which were sister restaurants to Coa. Worth, however, may not be done: He’s hoping to open a contemporary chop house sometime next year and is eyeing locations in downtown Walnut Creek.

Oliveto and Paul Canales have parted ways. The longtime executive chef (who is planning his own Oakland project) was replaced by Jonah Rhodehamel, previously a sous chef at San Francisco’s La Folie and Americano restaurants. Oakland’s Marc 49 wine bar expanded to Berkeley’s hopping Elmwood neighborhood, replacing Flame Gourmet Burgers on College Avenue. Daniel Patterson plans an upscale bar adjacent to his Plum restaurant in Uptown, while The Punchdown wine bar opened in December right next door. And Mitama opened a new izakaya-style annex to its sit-down Japanese eatery just over the Berkeley border in Rockridge.

Le Cheval lives! Just days after getting kicked out of its popular flagship location in Old Oakland, owners opened up LCX, a smaller spot with the same menu, a few doors down. Another Vietnamese destination wasn’t so lucky, as Kim Huynh and Hung Tran, owners of Huynh, shut down their Walnut Creek spot. The family also sold the Oakland location. And next door to LCX, Herman Chin is hoping the third time’s the charm, with his newest venture, Farmers Market Bistro. The eatery is his third concept in less than three years at that location, following Umi Tochi (Japanese) and Kuwa (Caribbean). “I just keep trying until it works,” says the never-say-die Chin.

Soon, Danville will have another place to sample wine, thanks to Matthew Ospeck, a former Motor City car designer, who’s aiming to open a tasting room/art gallery on Hartz Avenue by February. AuburnJames will debut wine from Ospeck’s boutique winery of the same name in Livermore. The gallery will feature local and nationally known artists, while the shop will offer a light menu to complement the small-batch wine (100–300 cases per vintage) from Napa Valley grapes. A familiar name will run the show: Stacey Belkin, who used to co-own Stacey’s in Pleasanton (which was sold over the summer), will be manager.

Plenty of new comfort food options in the Tri-Valley: Two Dickie’s Barbecue Pits, in Livermore and Pleasanton; Roy’s Backyard BBQ opened a restaurant on First Street in Livermore; and Fat Maddie’s Grille, specializing in burgers and sandwiches plus entrées like fried chicken and bacon-wrapped smoked pork chops, debuted in San Ramon. Good thing there’s a new 24 Hour Fitness coming to Pleasanton. Favorite Indian Restaurant also slid into the old Back 40 Texas BBQ spot in San Ramon.

In Pleasant Hill, Mazza Grill, a new quick-serve Mediterranean spot, is set to open this month, and Yan Can, the order-at-the-counter outpost of TV chef Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook), changed hands. New owner-chef Cory Chin plans to upgrade the quality of ingredients while phasing in sit-down service for dinner.

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

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