Diablo Dish: July
The latest scoop from the East Bay’s dining scene.
Pieology Pizzeria/Photo by Kevin N. Yelp.com
Central Contra Costa is getting a double helping of DIY pizza joints. The first is Project Pie in Walnut Creek. Founded by serial pizza entrepreneur James Markham, this franchise chain (with 10 other locations) follows the increasingly popular do-it-yourself model, in which customers craft their own thin-crust pies, then watch them get fired up in ovens in a matter of minutes. The new location is headed for Plaza Escuela, at the corner of South California Boulevard and Botelho Drive, and is expected to be open mid-July.
Next up: Pieology. Another chain cofounded by Markham (he’s since left the company), Pieology has a nearly identical create-your-own pizza model. The latest location is headed for Pleasant Hill. The opening is slated for late June.
Sunol Ridge, the much-anticipated upscale gastropub taking over the former Vesu and Cypress space in downtown Walnut Creek, was set to debut in mid-June. From friends and avid home brewers Christopher George and Mark Flaherty, Sunol Ridge should be serious beer geek heaven: It’ll offer 30 American craft and eight Belgian beers on tap, plus several wines (also on tap). Expect modern American cuisine and a completely redone design that includes a wraparound outdoor patio.
Down the way, Veggie Grill, the Southern California–based vegetarian restaurant chain, is under construction on its new Walnut Creek location, at 1320 Locust Street. It’s currently targeting a late September opening.
Not to be outdone, Walnut Creek’s Havana is planning a floor-to-ceiling remodel for later this summer. The Cuban hot spot also has a new executive chef. Philip DuBose was previously executive chef at Asia de Cuba in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and will be introducing new specials, including crab and jalapeño–crusted grouper with lobster chorizo broth and congri.
The Lafayette dining scene remains hot. San Francisco–based Smitten, of the made-to-order, liquid nitrogen–fueled ice cream, debuted in La Fiesta Square. American Kitchen, the souped-up comfort food eatery replacing French Bakery, is slated to launch in mid-July. Berkeley’s Amphora Nueva signed up to open its second boutique olive oil and balsamic vinegar retail shop and tasting room next to The Cooperage in La Fiesta Square, likely by late summer. And, finally, the California-Mexican restaurant long planned for 3616 Mt. Diablo Boulevard is under construction. Rancho Cantina will be a sit-down affair, and includes a 40-seat front patio. It’s also on pace for a late summer opening.
Livermore’s Bankhead Theater square should be getting even livelier. Cocktail bar and eatery The Last Word debuted its outdoor patio area, and the latest location of CREAM, the DIY ice-cream sandwich place, will open around late June.
Finally, Michelin-starred chef Daniel Patterson’s Oakland restaurants have undergone some serious changes. Fresh from winning his first James Beard Award, Patterson installed the original opening chef at Plum, Charlie Parker, as the new executive chef at Haven in Jack London Square. Plum, meanwhile, is no more: Patterson completely changed tack at his Uptown restaurant, morphing it into a more casual, affordable, Japanese-influenced concept called Ume.