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Diablo Dish: May

The dining scene is on fire, with Rancho Cantina opening in Lafayette, four new pizza places, Millennium coming to Oakland, and more.


Rancho Cantina / yelp.com

Restaurants with wood-fired ovens and grills continue to be scorchin’ hot. Lafayette’s Rancho Cantina recently opened on Mt. Diablo Boulevard, with chef Jorge Hernandez manning the flames and specializing in early California rancho cuisine.

In the pizza pie department, Parlour, a new venture from the owners of Oakland’s Bar 355, opened in Uptown Oakland to rave reviews. Chef Jason Tuley, previously of Gitane in San Francisco, serves blistered-crust pizzas and other wood-fired delights. In Concord, Mi Pi Pizza was slated to open in early April, offering Chicago-style deep-dish and thin-crust pizzas crisped in 450- to 650-degree ovens, along with nightly sing-alongs. In Walnut Creek, long-awaited DIY pizza place Project Pie planned to open its doors by late April. And Cravings Stone Fired Pizza and Pasta opened on First Street in Livermore in late March.

Other hot openings include a second location of Yalla Mediterranean in Walnut Creek’s Ygnacio Plaza, where you can find fire-grilled, made-to-order skewers, fresh salads, and Greek yogurt soft serve. Also in the Mediterranean category, a second Casbah Mediterranean opened in Pleasanton, not far from the original in Livermore. And the Nuevo Latino Fuego Tequila Grill, owned by Walnut Creek resident Eddy Schmitt Jr., was slated to open by late April.

Also new on the scene is La PanotiQ, a fast-growing local chain of Parisian-style bakeries with an impressive selection of elegant pastries, now open in downtown Livermore. Vitality Bowls, another local chain, just opened a Pleasant Hill location, and a Lafayette location at Merrill Gardens is expected to open this summer. In Concord, the Cajun-inspired Rockin’ Crawfish opened on Willow Pass Road, with a new location announced for San Pablo.

In Alamo, fusion eatery RJ’s Asian Fusion opened in March in Alamo Plaza. Owner-chef Ricky Jiang serves generous sushi and sashimi platters, as well as small plates such as the Japanese hot rock (Kobe beef with a creamy sesame sauce served on a Himalayan salt rock).  

Another new Asian eatery: In Walnut Creek, Izakaya Jun was slated to open in April in the former Locust Street Deli space next to Massimo Ristorante. Owner Kiyoshi Hayasaka will offer authentic Japanese small plates.

Looking ahead, a reggae-inspired café called Steel Rail was announced for Jack London Square, an American comfort food restaurant named Dana’s will take over the former Martini Sky space in the Danville Livery, and a restaurant named Graze will take over the former Shish Kabob Show space in Moraga.

After more than doubling its Kickstarter request of $50,000, the veteran vegan Millennium restaurant will close its San Francisco doors on May 1 and begin the move into the former Box and Bells space on College Avenue in Oakland.

But it can’t all be openings: The Bend, the food truck court on North Main Street in Walnut Creek, is no longer operating.

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