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Diablo Dish — March '08


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The Rose Garden, Danville’s new shopping center, is shaping up to be a food lover’s destination.

Bittersweet, the gourmet chocolate café with locations in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood and on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street, Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, which serves pizza at nine Bay Area parlors, and Amaranta Cocina Mexicana, a traditional Mexican restaurant whose original location is in Los Angeles, are all opening at the center. And Café Esin’s move to The Rose Garden, which we dished on a year ago, is slated to take place this May. Amaranta is planning its grand opening for the Cinco de Mayo holiday. All the other eateries aim to open by early June.

Spring is bringing some fresh dining room decor, updated menus, and new restaurants to Diabloland, starting with the Walnut Creek Yacht Club. The Yacht Club expanded and renovated in January and made some changes to the menu to accompany the new look, adding a daily fish crudo plate. The Duck Club Restaurant at the Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa also underwent renovations early this year. Look for new everything, including Pullman booths, plaid carpet, a walk-in wine cellar, a private dining room, and additions to the dinner menu, such as crispy duck confit with potato ravioli.

Several new restaurants are hitting the Tri-Valley. Danville’s family-owned Ascona Pizza was scheduled to open a second location in San Ramon’s Gale Ranch shopping center in February. Brother-and-sister team Nic and Kim Ferreira will oversee the new spot while their parents keep watch over the original. The sibling duo is also working toward opening another restaurant at Gale Ranch, the Fat Cactus Grill and Bar, a California-Mexican restaurant. And Zao Noodle Bar, which recently moved its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Pleasanton, is looking to open a new location—its sixth—close to its new home.

A couple of food businesses are bouncing back from difficulties. After electrical problems forced Sunrise Cafe and Bakery’s Cindy Gershen to shut down her catering kitchen, she revived the space on California Boulevard in Walnut Creek with a barbecue joint. Her son, Joe Stein, and his cousin, Tanya Pearce, have opened Cuz’nz BBQ, which features smoked meat and side dishes that adhere to Gershen’s healthy-eating guidelines. Also, Pleasant Hill’s Left Bank is back in business, with an expanded bar area, after a flood caused a closure in early January.

After less than a year as executive chef of Mudd’s Restaurant in San Ramon, Darren Robey was poached in December to lead the kitchen at the Lodge at Tiburon. Robert Eustaquio, former sous chef at Sausalito’s Fish, replaces him and has changed the menu. Also look for live music Tuesday to Friday evenings.

Joining the collection of wine-tasting boutiques in Livermore, Battaion Cellars has opened a tasting room for its sparkling wines downtown at Blacksmith Square. Champagne fans can now taste Battaion’s cuveés on Friday evenings and weekend afternoons. When the weather warms up, live bands will perform.

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

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